He was born in Corning, Iowa and served in the U.S. Navy, from 1943 to 1946, and worked as a magician in the 1950s. Carson eventually took a job in radio, and later moved on to game shows. Sometime after that, Carson became a writer for comedian Red Skelton.
Carson was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1987.
Carson's trademark is the Golf swing at the end of his Tonight Show monologues.
Carson retired from show business on May 22, 1992 when he stepped down as host of The Tonight Show. NBC gave the show to occasional guest host, Jay Leno, in spite of promising the job to David Letterman in the 1980s. Letterman, who had been a longtime friend of Carson's, called him to ask him what to do about losing the show. Carson told him to walk. Leno and Letterman were soon competing on different networks.