When Johnny Carson became the presenter of The Tonight Show back in 1969, it was the start of something legendary.

While late night talk shows are now a staple on our TV screens, Carson’s show was the first of its kind and has led the way in entertainment ever since.

From controversial jokes told on the show to his outrageous personal life, his name was on everyone’s lips in the ’60s and ’70s. But it turns out there is more to the late Johnny Carson than first meets the eye.

Here are some surprising facts on stories from behind-the-scenes of both Johnny Carson’s life and his much-loved show.

A Mother Of A Problem

PBS

Johnny Carson had many personal issues with friends, family and relationships, but he blamed this all on one person – his mother Ruth, who he often described as heartless.

“She’s the toughest son of a b**ch of them all,” Carson said. “There is no goddamn way to please that woman. She’s Lady Macbeth! My marriages failed because she [expletive] me up!” When she died, he did not go to her funeral. He said, “The wicked witch is dead.”

Unhappily Married

It’s a well reported fact that while Johnny Carson was a national treasure on TV, he was a cruel man behind the scenes. After his marriage to his fourth wife, Alexis Maas, the couple went on a honeymoon on a yacht in Italy. Carson fell into a cold mood, and in front of others he said:  “We’ve been married for three weeks. If you say something like that again, this marriage won’t last another three weeks.”