More of the Most Iconic & Cringe-Worthy Moments in Late-Night Talk Shows’ History

If you’re still reading this, then you’re addicted to cringe-worthy TV. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There’s nothing more exhilarating than viewing an awkward exchange between an over-eager talk-show host and an unprepared guest.
Getty Images Photo by Alan Singer
Getty Images Photo by Alan Singer
It’s hard to watch, but even harder to look away. Whether it’s witnessing Conan O’Brien maniacally laugh at Jennifer Garner’s bad vocabulary or David Letterman unwittingly create his future rival Jay Leno, these moments are certainly iconic. Check out more of these cringe-worthy moments in late-night talk shows’ history

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Bill Clinton surprised everyone as the first sitting president to make a late show appearance. By 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger would take politics and celebrity to a new level when he went on ” The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno to announce his run for governor of California.

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He told Leno that he supports the recall of the current governor, and then he announced his plan to unseat him. As would be expected, yet shocking at the time, Schwarzenegger went full Terminator on the California governor, “Gray Davis. Hasta la vista, baby!”

Norman Mailer & Gore Vidal

Dick Cavett couldn’t help noticing Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal were engaged in a tit-for-tat feud played out in print media. So, he invited two towering intellectuals to face each other on his show in 1971.

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It was vicious. At one point, Mailer accused Vidal and the rest of the panel of being intellectually inferior to himself. It was then when Cavett suggested, “Perhaps you’d like two other chairs to contain your giant intellect.” By the end, the entire audience vociferously turned against Mailer.

Bill Maher

Stephen Colbert welcomed late-night host Bill Maher to the show during the 2016 presidential elections. It started out okay, but Colbert asked Maher a specific question one too many times. “Stop saying that!” Maher screamed, totally creeped out. Colbert wouldn’t stop. At one point, the “Real-Time” host threatened to abandon his seat after the break.

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Later, sarcastic sweet nothings like “baby doll” by Maher and “sweetheart” by Colbert dot the conversation as they try to get along for the rest of the segment. It ends with Colbert demanding a better guest.

Jennifer Garner

This happened a while ago. In 2003, Jennifer Garner came on ” Late Night” with Conan to talk about “Daredevil .” The host, clearly impressed with the actress’s work in the film and the martial arts techniques she uses, is sidelined when Garner tells him he misused a word. “Snuck isn’t a word, Conan, and you went to Harvard, and you should know that.”

 

Conan, dejected, facetiously admits he went to Harvard driving school. He didn’t let it go. Later in the interview, Conan pulls out a dictionary and points to the word “snuck,” laughing maniacally like an evil supervillain.

Tom Hanks

This late show gag proves Tom Hanks is really as much of a good sport as we think he is. Hank appeared on Conan O’Brien’s new TBS show in 2010.

 

One of Hanks’s most memorable films is “Splash” this segment included a big splash. From Conan’s desk, the two were observing a pod of humpbacks. Gazing at the Jumbotron, Hanks clearly adores whale life. He proves his whale knowledge by explaining that a breach requires 40 percent of the creature to break the surface. Just then, splash! Conan, however, remains dry.

Will Ferrell

Not to be outdone, Will Ferrell advances Letterman’s creep factor one-up on Conan. Dressed in full Ron Burgundy costume, Ferrell arrives on stage playing the flute. He says he is there to make a big announcement. His big news is that there will be a sequel to “Anchorman.” The audience was thrilled.

 

However, even Conan was grossed out by Farrell’s own clarification on what he meant by a crude innuendo. It can’t be printed here, but if you want to witness the cringeworthy moment, watch the segment!

Jennifer Aniston

Reader alert: Extra cringe factor in this interview. When Jennifer Aniston visited David Letterman in 1998, she had come to talk about her new movie, “The Object of My Affection,” but instead, she became the object of some very unwanted affection.

 

Jennifer, as pretty as she’s ever been on “Friends,” tolerates Letterman’s increasingly cringe-worthy interview. He asks intimate questions about her sauna experience. When he starts to bite one of her braids, she screams. He doesn’t stop and proceeds to suck on her hair.

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt received an unexpected gift when he visited Conan O’Brien to promote ” Troy” (2004). O’Brien gave the A-lister his emerald-green 1992 Ford Taurus SHO. The manual transmission sedan had made many appearances on the late-night talk show as Conan’s first car from college.

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In this interview, we got to see Pitt rev and rip out of a parking spot with a quick slip of the clutch. O’Brien warned him not to go over 35 mph because he said the bottom might drop out. He comments that Brad and Jennifer are going to be very happy in that car.

Benedict Cumberbatch

This really happened. Jimmy Fallon had Benedict Cumberbatch on the show for a Mad Libs game. Cumberbatch chose various nouns, verbs, and adjectives to fill in the blanks as Fallon writes them down. Then, like a kid sleepover game, they act out the scene.

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If you’re a big Cumberbatch fan, it might be difficult to sit through the act. The awkward skit drags on. At last, the iconic “Doctor Strange” actor breaks into a verse of “Baa Baa Black Sheep.” At this point, fortunately, it ends.

Kanye West

Anytime Kanye West makes an appearance; we buckle up. He never lets us down. Kanye joined Kimmel on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” following a heated Twitter fight between the two. Kimmel asked trigger-friendly questions leading Kanye to say he enjoys it when people are mad at him.

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Kimmel burst out laughing when the celeb asked if he could imagine him telling his publicist that he’s going on TV again. But then rapper-turned-entrepreneur dove deep, getting into why people are all actors on a stage called life and that the only way out is to “break the simulation.” Whoa, dude.

Shaquille O’Neal

Jimmy Fallon puts on Shaq’s suit coat in this interview. The host looks as if his head shrunk, swimming in the jacket that goes past his knees. Meanwhile, Shaq attempts to wear Fallon’s coat, and he can’t even get his arm into the sleeve.

 

It turns out the former Laker star is promoting a new suit line at Macy’s. When Fallon asks if he’s ever rejected a promotional gig, Shaq says he turned away a fragrance line called DNA cologne because they wanted samples of his bodily fluids to make it.

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey’s visit to “The Tonight Show” in 1994 was epic. At his ” Dumb and Dumber” best, Carrey sat down with Jay Leno and announced immediately that he had hypnotized the entire studio audience. He mind-controlled everyone to applaud wildly at his word. As proof, he says that is how he got three number one hit movies in a row.

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It gets a bit weird when he tells his alien abduction story and proves it by pulling up his shirt and drawing a sharpie line in a dot-to-dot map of his moles, but it’s Jim Carrey.

Tracy Morgan

When ” SNL” stand-up comedian Tracy Morgan sat down next to Conan, he was starring in “The Last OG .”

 

Five years earlier on the show, he was outrageous as usual.  Morgan called the president a gang banger and said he should get a teardrop tattoo.

Jay Leno & Jimmy Kimmel

Jay Leno didn’t start the long-lasting feud between the two late-night show hosts, but he shifted it into high gear when he declared that Jimmy Kimmel has a “mean streak” and “that’s the reason he’s in third place” (in the ratings). Ouch!

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The feud was lit with a Leno impression. Jimmy Kimmel mocked Leno relentlessly for an entire episode of ” The Jimmy Kimmel Show.” Leno told the “Today” show that he never had any problems with Kimmel. In 2017, the feud ended. Kimmel’s newborn needed open-heart surgery, and Leno called to wish him the best.

Shirley MacLaine

David Letterman did not enjoy a visit by Shirley MacLaine, and, by the end of the interview, neither did the Oscar-winning actress. She was there for a new movie called “Madame Sousatzka .”

 

At first, the host who was previously, in 1986, called the A-word by Cher, was hamming it up. He quizzed MacLaine relentlessly about her theories and beliefs in past lives. She didn’t want to talk about it. Finally, she blurted out that Cher was right to call him the A-word. It went downhill from there. He ended it with the standard, “Oh, darn, we’re out of time.”

Lady Gaga

No one knows what to expect when Gaga sits down for an interview. This time she was dressed in a batgirl getup. The costume included studded knee-high boots and a bat mask. A black leather jacket covered a leather bikini.

 

She was there to announce “Born this Way.” “Pick it up in stores,” the media-savvy diva said. Talking about the NYC underground music scene where she used to do a variety show in a bikini, she instructed, “If you take your clothes off, it’s amazing what will happen.” Letterman didn’t bat an eye. He was in his element, enjoying her performance.

Justin Timberlake

If you didn’t know Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon are in a BFF bromance, now you do. They have one of the most adorable friendships of all the celebrities. On “The Tonight Show,” Timberlake and Fallon do an SNL-like skit.

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Dressed up as 13-year-olds at summer camp, the buddies get in trouble with the camp leader for staying up all night chatting. It gets a bit out of hand when the two belt out a duet of Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic.” They go to bed, finally, but not before Timberlake says, “Best friends forever?” and Fallon answers, “Best friends forever.”

Jaime Fox

Jamie Foxx visited ” The Graham Norton Show” in 2017. He managed to give an epic stand-up routine while sitting on the red couch with Judi Dench, Steve Carrell, and Kristen Wiig. Talking about the travails of dating at 49, he describes standing outside a club in LA. A carload of starstruck young women scream, “OMG, it’s Jaime Foxx!” Foxx smiles, “What’s up?!” It turns out they go to school with his daughter.

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Another time when he was a DJ at a club, three twentysomething young ladies found out he’s 49. He said they acted like he told them he had a terminal disease!

Aziz Ansari

“Parks and Recreation” star Aziz Ansari visited ” The Late Show” and dug right in by calling CBS, in so many words, racist. He also pointed out that Stephen Colbert is the “bagillionth” white guy on TV.

 

Colbert, dumbfounded, sat shifting in his chair, fretting, it would seem, CBS knocking on his door. Still tense, Aziz quipped that someone is going to get fired for misquoting the title of his book. But Colbert broke the tension with a joke. Laughing, he said that he hopes it’s a white guy.

Mark Ruffalo

They were discussing fears on BBC One’s “The Graham Norton Show” one evening in 2015. Comedian Josh Widdicombe, having just divulged that he used to write for “Dora the Explorer” magazine, was not ready for the insult that would be slung at him. It was Widdicombe’s turn to share a personal fear.

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He started to say he was going to go with flying. But then Mark Ruffalo rudely suggested Widdicombe might fear girls under the age of 12. The actor clearly regretted it and walked off the stage in shame after trying to apologize to Widdicombe with a chivalrous handshake.

Sofia Vergara

Sofia Vergara gets totally creeped out in the hot seat next to Conan. She visited the Conan O’Brien show in 2014. The talk show host made her uncomfortable as soon as she sat down. In the creepiest voice he could conjure, Conan says, “I love you.” Sofia casually tries to brush it off, “Don’t be creepy,” yet she’s clearly disturbed.

 

As the interview goes on, it only gets creepier. Conan tells her he enjoys dancing with her boyfriend. “Now it’s really getting creepy,” she says. Next, Conan begs her to laugh at his joke. All she can say is, “Creeeepy.”

Russell Brand

Russell Brand, obnoxious, always on brand, gnawed into Emily Blunt’s story about swimming with dolphins on ” The Graham Norton Show” and wouldn’t let go. She was describing a close encounter she had with a 6-foot-long shark. Brand breaks in dismissively. “It’s just a type of fish.”

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Blunt, frustrated, tells him to stop diminishing her story. “I went near a fish,” he doesn’t stop. Interrupting her again, laughing, he continues mocking her, “I was near a fish once.” Fair is fair once we find out that she embarrassed Brand backstage by ridiculing his Velcro belt.

Billie Eilish

Right off the bat, Billie Eilish calls Jimmy Fallon out. She remembers seeing him on TV when she was a kid. He was singing songs and dancing on “The Electric Company.” Fallon is mortified. But then they get into a story from her childhood.

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Comedian Colin Quinn joins them for “The Tonight Show”  “True Confessions” game. She grosses them both out. Eilish talked about her Where Do We Go world tour. The astounding 17-year-old also revealed which songs she would sing on SNL.

Justin Bieber

This was a long time ago, Bieber time. Justin sported only two tattoos. The second one was still healing. This became clear when Bieber screamed as David Letterman grabbed the young artist’s arm to admonish him about getting any more tattoos. “Believe,” the name of his new album was printed across his forearm.

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Meanwhile, David Letterman, interviewing the 18-year-old in 2012, gave fatherly advice like go to college, don’t get any more tattoos, and vote in US elections (even though he’s Canadian).

Chris Pratt

When Chris Pratt appeared on “The Graham Norton Show,” the host could not help but ask Pratt about one thing in particular: getting naked. Immediately, the actor, there to promote “Guardians of the Galaxy,” jumped into his naked stories.

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Apparently, Pratt has always enjoyed shocking people by undressing, especially as a kid when he got in trouble for it often. When he pulled the prank to get a good shot of a scene at “Parks and Recreation,” his flashing days came to an abrupt end. According to NBC, he must never do that again. He framed the letter.

Will Smith

Graham Norton gives Will Smith and son Jaden Smith mics, and they bust into some rhymes. Lighting up “The Graham Norton Show,” Smith doesn’t stop there. Oh no. It turns out the “Men in Black” actor also brought his personal DJ, Jazzy Jeff, to the program.

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Next, he and Jaden perform ” The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” rap. Meanwhile, guest Heather Graham is dancing and swaying along. Will Smith’s biggest surprise happens when Alfonso Ribeiro jumps on stage to do his trademark Carlton Dance. Even Norton hops on stage to get into the dancing fun. A great time had by all.

Drew Barrymore

Recently, Drew Barrymore admitted that her performance on David Letterman’s show in 1995 was a TMI moment that she had learned from. She was 20. She said she didn’t regret it because it was fun, but here’s what happened.

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Barrymore asks Letterman if he’d like her to table dance for him. Paul Shaffer provided some bluesy music. Just before her dance on his desk ends, she flashes him really quickly and returns to her seat. Letterman meant it when he said, “I can’t thank you enough for that.”

Robin Williams

Robin Williams is epic in every interview he ever gave. In 1998 he was on key with David Letterman. Letterman quizzed him about his friendship with sitting president Bill Clinton, and the exchange was hilarious.

 

When it got to the point of his visit to promote ” Goodwill Hunting,” Williams spoke of the film endearingly; he clearly loved the project. “I got this amazing script, I agreed to do it, and then, all the sudden, I meet [Ben Affleck and Matt Damon] on the set.” Then unknowns, Williams joked about asking to see their ID and if they had their father’s permission.

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman visited Jimmy Fallon on ” The Tonight Show” in 2015. The last time they met was on a 2002 date. Yes, you read that correctly; Fallon was set up a date with the A-lister bombshell. A mutual friend brought her over to Fallon’s place. Kidman and Tom Cruise were on the splits at the time. Fallon didn’t know that either.

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He never knew it was an actual date. She explained that she wasn’t interested because he ignored her and played video games. Then she speculated that Fallon didn’t like women. Fully mortified, Jimmy briefly walked off his own show.

Emma Watson

The most awkward moment on late-night television that Emma Watson ever experienced happened on Jimmy Fallon’s show in 2012. She joined him at the desk and broke in with a compliment on the ‘Halloween candy thing.’

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The Halloween candy thing is a skit performed by late show fans who taped their children’s reactions when it was explained to them their parents had eaten all their candy. It was brutal and funny; Leno dissed it for cruelty. But Watson apparently loved it. Unfortunately, Jimmy Kimmel’s show did that bit, and Watson was facing Jimmy Fallon, absolutely mortified.

Jay Leno

Before he has his own show, David Letterman would occasionally act as a guest host for “The Tonight Show,” between 1978-1980. In 1982, Letterman would spread his wings on his own show, “Late Night with David Letterman.” Ironically enough, Letterman welcomed future “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno as a guest.

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At the time, Leno was a regular on the stand-up comedy circuit, slowly transitioning to a number of minor roles in film and television. As Carson retired in 1992, fans were sure Letterman was next in line to take over “The Tonight Show,” yet lo and behold, the role when to Leno, who hosted until 2009!

Errol Flynn

As one of the biggest stars of the 1930s, Flynn was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. In the prime of his career, he was romantically linked with a number of female stars, including Carole Lombard, Lupe Valex, and Marlene Dietrich, to name a few.

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The “The Adventures of Robin Hood” actor was no stranger to making promotional appearances on many popular late-night talk shows.

Elvis Presley

The original host of “The Tonight Show,” Steve Allen, returned guest host the show in 1961. He welcomed “The King of Rock and Roll” to the segment. Recently released from his commitment to the military, Presley came on stage to perform his hit, “Hound Dog.”

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Elvis was excited to return to the stage and return to entertaining. Serving in the army forced Presley to take a break from the limelight, which ironically increased his popularity. His absence made fans excited when he returned.

Engelbert Humperdinck

It almost never happens that a singer has three chart-topping hits in a single year, but for Engelbert Humperdinck, 1976 was a year to remember. His three-hit songs took over both the United Kingdom and North America’s music charts.

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Humperdinck was nominated for a Grammy and was named the “most played juke-box record of the year.” Of course, with fame comes the promotion, and Humperdinck made the rounds on the talk shows, including “The Tonight Show” and “The Dean Martin Show.”

Joan Crawford Part 2

As the third host of “The Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson officially took over the interviewing desk on October 1st, 1962. For the next thirty years, Carson welcomed the biggest names in Hollywood. On his very first night, Joan Crawford was honored as his featured guest.

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Receiving awards for her role in the pshyco-thriller, “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” Joan would still be resentful towards her co-star, Bette Davis, who was nominated for several awards for her performance in the film, while Crawford was not.

Jill Corey

Jill Corey’s story isn’t your typical “rise to fame” story. She found success as a teenager singing on a live radio show in her hometown of Avonmore, Pennsylvania. She found a record deal with a recording company and created several hit singles and records in the early 1950s.

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In addition to her many stage performances, the young woman was also featured on a number of radio and television shows, including, you guessed it, “The Tonight Show,” with Johnny Carson. Corey had a creative style of singing, dancing, and a selection of outfits. Her unique taste and girl-next-door demeanor made her a fan favorite.

Elizabeth Taylor

The name and the legend, Elizabeth Taylor, was one of the most popular leading ladies in Hollywood, bringing in box office numbers. It may seem like it was always fame and fortune for Taylor, but for a period of time, Taylor considered walking away from it all.

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That was when she was offered a role in the star-studded cast of “Giant.” She played alongside James Dean, Dennis Hopper, and Rock Hudson. As an actress and philanthropist, Taylor would often appear on late-night talk shows, including many visits with Johnny Carson.

Joan Rivers

Often, talk-show hosts and comedians say something so often; they become synonymous with it. For Joan Rivers, that was: “Can we talk?” The line originated from her time as a stand-up comedian; Rivers used it instead of saying, “let’s be honest.”

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She navigated her way to the comedic roots of topics that seemed hard to discuss. Truth be told, the late-night show host didn’t even realize she was saying it so much until her audiences started repeating it back to her!

Bette Midler

In his final show, Johnny Carson welcomed Robin Williams and Bette Midler as his featured guests on May 21st, 1992. A memorable night in which Carson had guests join in, Midler made it all the more memorable.

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It was an emotional night for all, and Midler serenaded the man of the hour with a number of songs. Carson’s final “The Tonight Show” segment was so captivating; it would go on to win an Emmy Award.

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford was undoubtedly one of the most popular actresses in the 60s. She appeared on”The Merv Griffin Show” after her performance in the psychological thriller, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” Crawford received a standing ovation from the fans in the audience.

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Interestingly enough, though the award-winning actress was a fan favorite, this was far from the truth when it came to her castmates. A truth that was revealed in the tell-all book, “Mommie Dearest.”

Zsa Zsa Gabor Part 2

Five years after Zsa Zsa Gabor was crowned Miss Hungary, she moved to the United States. Her European elegance and unique style would help ensure she became a sought-after actress. Naturally, she became heavily typecast and would find a variety of roles working on stage, television, and of course, the big screen.

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She soon became a frequent guest on late-night talk shows, and of course, found her way in the tabloid magazines. Gabor was known for her extravagant lifestyle and many relationships; she was married a total of nine times!

Dionne Warwick

This next statistic is outstanding. With 69 songs on the Billboard top 100 for over thirty years, Warwick is second to Aretha Franklin as the most charted female singer of all time. Along with her award-winning hits, Warwick had plenty of collaborations with big names.

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When she made her appearance on “The Dean Martin Show,” she decided against performing one of her songs. Instead, she showed her other talent, acting, as she performed a comedy skit alongside Dean Martin.

Suzanne Somers & Fred Astaire

When Suzanne Somers and Fred Astaire joined the stage together, no one could have imagined they had that much in common. The “Three’s Company star” and the most influential dancer in film shared a lot.  They were both multitalented, both having appeared on the small and big screen.

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They also shared a similar interest in fitness in order to maintain their appearance and athletic skills. When they appeared on “The Mike Douglas Show” in 1978, Somers and Astaire shared their fitness routines and advice with the show’s host.

Jack Douglas & Reiko

Best known as a writer for some of the biggest names in the business, he was the one and only Jack Douglas. Douglas’s third wife, Reiko, was a regular on the talk show circuit in the 60s and 70s. She capitalized on America’s attraction to anything and everything that was foreign and exotic.

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Though she spoke fluent English, the Japanese-born beauty pretended to know minimal English, wearing traditional Japanese clothing. It was an interesting sight to be seen.

Judy Garland

In 1962 Judy Garland joined Jack Parr on stage for an interview on “The Tonight Show.” The two had a very candid and humorous interview. Garland talked about her childhood and the early years of her career. The famed actress was born Frances Gumm and started off as a performer with her two sisters.

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Before her iconic performance in “The Wizard of Oz,” the young actress would spend time perfecting her talent alongside Mickey Rooney, Liz Taylor, and more. You have to work hard to make it Hollywood, and boy, did Garland work!

Jean Shrimpton

Becoming an “it girl” is no joke; it’s given for a good reason. Shrimpton was charming, engaging, and entertaining – the perfect it girl. She was one of the most famous females in the 1960s; the British model and actress was a sight to be seen.

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When she wasn’t on the runway, on-screen, or in advertisements, Shrimpton was a guest on many of the late-night talk shows.

Grace Slick

Who would have thought that the lead singer of Jefferson Airplane would be the first person to use the “F” word on television. When Slick and the band appeared on “The Dick Cavett Show” in 1969, it was the day that sent television censors into full panic.

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They performed their hit song “We Can Be Together,” which features the famous four-letter word. Slick’s vocals shocked Cavett, the live audience, and viewers around the globe. The incident led to increased censorship on television.

Elke Sommers

Not only did Elke Sommers make multiple appearances on various late-night shows, but she also co-hosted one as well! The beautiful German actress co-hosted “The Mike Douglas Show” during the week of February 7-11, 1972.

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Elke has 100 television and film roles under her belt and made a name for herself after fleeing Germany during World War II. She would move to Hollywood in the 1960s and started working on the big and small screen.

Dean Martin

Jerry Lewis was the king of comedy. Dean Martin, on the other hand, was “The King of Cool.” They complimented each other well, and the two legendary performers created one of the most memorable comedy duos of all time.

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A member of the “Rat Pack,” Martin was the host of “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast” and “The Dean Martin Show.” Highlighted by one of Martin’s biggest hits, “Everybody Love Somebody,” his show ran off 264 episodes over the course of nine years.

Joey Heatherton

Joey Heatherton was everywhere in the 1960s and 70s. Whether she was on stage or on screen, many considered the talented starlet’s performances shocking. Of course, that wouldn’t scare Johnny Carson away, and he invited the star onto his show in 1963 to teach him how to dance.

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Response to the show was so positive that Heatherton was invited to the inaugural episode of “The Dean Martin Show” a year later.

Deana Martin & Tina Sinatra

“The Dean Martin Show” had many extraordinary guests, but nothing topped off the segment in which the nineteen-year-old daughters and their fathers appeared on the show.

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In 1967, Frank and Dean were joined by their daughter for a rendition of “Do-Re-Mi,” from “The Sound of Music.” As a late-night fan favorite, the variety show welcomed several performers and guests over a nine-year span.

Cher

Surprisingly enough, in 1979, Cher took over as the co-host of “The Mike Douglas Show” for a week-long gig. The diva was able to show off her novel fashion taste but also had an opportunity to perform several of her hit songs.

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She sang “My Song,” Take Me Home,” and “Happy Was The Day We Met,” to name a few. Cher had a goal in co-hosting the show; she wanted to prove to fans and the world that she was more than just a sidekick to Sonny, and she did!

The Time of Your Life

Long before “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother,” there was “The Time of Your Life.” With a regular cast of characters, the short-lived show had their characters meet up at their regular hangout spot each week, observing and interacting with others.

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Stars like Jackie Gleason and Betsy Palmer were the focal points of the show, as Gleason’s character, Joe, evaluated the true spirit of each newcomer to their spot.

Charo

She was born Maria del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza, but everyone knew her as Charo. She was a talk-show regular making multiple visits on “The Tonight Show,” “The Merv Griffin Show,” and “The Mike Douglas Show.” Charo was a talented actress, singer, and comedian.

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Though she struggled with fluent English, the Spanish superstar used her irresistible personality to appeal to English-speaking audiences and soon became a household name with her “cuchi, cuchi” catchphrase.

Sonny & Cher

As their hit single “I Got You, Babe” blew up, the husband and wife duo made their way through the television talk show circuit. One of those appearances was on “The Mike Douglas Show” in 1979.

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Though their music was a fan favorite, they also appealed to fans with their undeniable love for each other, their dance moves, and their choice of clothing. Sonny and Cher even had their own variety television show called Cher Comedy Hour”, which ran from 1971-1974.

Shari Belafonte

Although she stands in her own right as a model, singer, and actress, Shari Belafonte was still better known as the daughter of Harry Belafonte than she was for her own accomplishments.

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Before her role in the popular series, “Hotel,” Shari worked mostly behind the camera as a production assistant and publicist. After her popularity increase, she appeared on “The Merv Griffin Show.” Though she never outshined her father, she continues to act and has been in countless films and television shows.

Loni Anderson

Despite his controversial nature, Johnny Carson still managed to host the most beautiful women in Tinsel Town on his show. During the late 70s and 80s, Anderson fit the role of the stunning blonde to caught everyone’s eye.

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She was one of the most attractive actresses of her time, and when she was hired for “WKRP in Cincinnati,” producers admitted she was hired for her looks, not her talent. She reminded them of a mix between Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.

Dolly Parton Part 2

“The Joan Rivers Show” was short-lived, having lasted only four years, and yet, it managed to bring in some of the biggest names in the industry. When Dolly Parton was a guest on the show, all bets were off – the two women were complete opposites.

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The well-mannered Southern Belle put together with the straightforward New Yorker; the two were bound to make it work. In 1993, Parton appeared on the show, performing a number of songs from “Slow Dancing with the Moon.” The sharp banter between the two women was absolutely priceless.

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Johnny Carson was known for his no-filter approach, which often made many guests uncomfortable. “The Tonight Show” host often took things too far and acted inappropriately during many interviews he had with the wonderful Dolly Parton.

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Nevertheless, the award-winning country singer continued to make appearances on the show.  Carson would spend more time discussing her physical attributes than focusing on her true talents and abilities on stage and screen.

Goldie Hawn

Goldie Hawn captured everyone’s attention with her big blue eyes. She was a guest on the show soon after winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and she was on her way to becoming an international star.

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Her smile and laugh were both contagious; she was just at the start of her decades-long career. Hawn is now an award-winning actress and producer, proving the world wrong when they dubbed her the stereotypical dumb blonde.

Connie Stevens

Connie Stevens, best known as “Cricket,” in the detective series “Hawaiian Eye,” was also a singer. She recorded a number of singles and albums, including one of her most famous songs, “Sixteen Reasons.” Though she made a name for herself in the US, she was even more popular overseas.

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She knew that even know she didn’t have only one big thing going for her, she had created something people loved. In 1975, she got the chance to connect with the North American audience when she appeared on “The Tonight Show.”

Marlo Thomas

According to Marlo Thomas, it was “love at first sight” when she met daytime talk show host Phil Donahue. That being said, it took the couple three years before they got married. The actress and activist appeared on her future partner’s show in 1970, and the chemistry between the two was evident to all.

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Before the end of the segment, Donahue let his guest know how much he enjoyed her company. Thomas responded that whoever the woman in his life is is a lucky lady. Who would have that that Thomas would soon be that lucky lady!

Jayne Kennedy

Jayne Kennedy was one of the first of her kind. The multi-talented star broke gender barriers, but she broke racial barriers as well. She was an actress, dancer, pageant winner, model, sports broadcaster, and television personality and showed the world that women could be just as successful as men, if not more!

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Along with her three-year stint on “The Dean Martin Show,” Kennedy became one of the first female NFL announcers as the host of “Greatest Sports Legends.”

Robyn Hilton

Like many of the actresses before and after her, Robyn Hilton put Johnny Carson in his place. In her 1974 interview, one that was meant to focus on the upcoming release of the comedy classic “Blazing Saddles,” Hilton was subject to several offensive questions about her career.

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Carson believed that Hilton’s acting career was built from being a beauty pageant contestant. Her quick and cut-to-the-point response was that she “didn’t believe in beauty pageants.”

Farrah Fawcett

We will forever remember the long hours spent in the mirror, trying to perfect the Farrah Fawcett look. She had many roles in both television and film throughout the years but will forever be remembered as  Jill Munroe in “Charlie’s Angels.” It’s hard not to remember the poster of her in that red bathing suit.

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Shortly after her decision to leave her one-year stint as Munroe, Fawcett was a guest on “The Tonight Show.” During their conversation, talk of the show rating’s rapid increase became a hot subject. Fawcett linked the success to the lack of the cast wearing bras.

Diane Lane

When Diane Lane appeared on “The Tonight Show,” she had just turned 18. She was on the segment promoting the film adaptation of “Rumble Fish” and, after being introduced, would not kiss Carson on the check.

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Seeing as he was forty years older than her at the time, her decision seemed pretty justifiable. When Carson asked Lane what she had done to celebrate her 18th birthday, she noted that she had spent most of the day doing laundry. Knowing Carson’s long history of innuendoes, we’re guessing he was looking for something a little juicier.

Judy Landers

Celebrities meeting their celebrity crushes is pretty meta if you ask us. When Judy Landers made an appearance on “The Tonight Show” in 1979, she disclosed that meeting him was a dream come true. The reason? She had a crush on Carson.

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Landers was in the midst of her time as Stacks from “BJ and the Bear” when she sat down for an interview with the late-night host. When questioned about her ability to drive a semi-truck, Landers answered confidently, letting the host and audiences know she could drive a big rig.

Yvonne Craig

When we say Yvonne Craig, you probably hear “Batgirl,” don’t you? Synonymous with the superhero, Craig had no choice but to appear in full costume and character on “The Merv Griffin Show” on September 5th, 1967. Not breaking character, Craig used her interview to advocate for women’s rights, putting an emphasis on equal pay.

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In one commercial, Batman and Robin were in need of saving, but Batgirl refused to release them. This was an act of protest, seeing as Craig was paid less than Robin. Throughout her career, Yvonne Craig was a symbol of female empowerment and remained one to this day.

Whitney Houston

One of the most famous names and voices of our time, Whitney Houston, is one of the best-selling female artists of all time. She’s sold over 200 million albums worldwide and is the bestowed female singer to date.

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In 1990 Jay Leno had the pleasure of congratulating the singer on breaking the Beatles’ long-standing record of number one hits. During her memorable interview on “The Tonight Show,” she took both the live studio audiences and the audiences at home breathes away when she performed “I’m Your Baby Tonight.”

Carol Wayne

Wayne used her popularity to become one of the most adored talk show sidekicks in television history. Though she appeared in several television shows and movies, her best-known gig was that of the ditzy Matinee Lady on “The Tonight Show”‘s Art Fern Tea Time Movie sketches. Wayne appeared in over 100 shows during a thirteen-year run.

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Unfortunately, when the show was cut to an hour, Wayne’s role declined, sending her through a downward spiral. Wayne found herself making bad business choices, dealing with addiction, and got herself in a lot of financial troubles.

Susan Anton

There wasn’t a room Susan Anton couldn’t light up, “The Merv Griffin Show” was no different. When David Brenner welcomed the actress, she stole the show. Anton was known for her roles in several Muriel Cigar commercials.

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She was known for pushing products on television, radio, and print. She would go on to make many appearances on “The Merv Griffin Show,” and though she never had a big breakout role on-screen, she was a popular choice when it came to guest appearances. She made her way onto many successful shows, including “Baywatch” and “The Love Boat.”

Ann Margret

It comes as no surprise that often, actors and actresses get typecast into roles they may or may not genuinely enjoy. In the case of Ann Margret, to fans, she was labeled no more than a “B” movie actress, which was solely passed on her early movie roles. On February 29th, 1972, she was a guest on Johnny Carson’s couch.

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During their conversation, Margret talked about being taken seriously as an actress. She had five Golden Globe awards to her name, along with several Golden Globe, Academy Awards, and Emmy’s nominations! She got a chance to fix her reputation with her appearance in “Carnal Knowledge,” alongside Jack Nicholson, a role that would show audiences a more genuine side of her acting skills.

Cassandra Peterson

As one of the more prominent guest hosts of “The Tonight Show,” Joan Rivers welcomed many esteemed guests. During her stint on the Halloween night episode in 1985, Rivers welcomed the Mistress of the Dark, Elvira.

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She was known for her exposing attire, which made Peterson the envy of Rivers for most of the night’s episode. The original and perhaps the most famed goth girl, Elvira was Peterson’s sexy vampire alter ego. Elvira was featured in film, television, and comic books throughout the ’80s.

Doris Day

Doris Day, the multi-faceted singer and actress, made an appearance on “The Tonight Show” in 1974. Not only did Day use the show as a platform to show off the long list of men she starred alongside (James Garner and Clark Gable, to name a few), but she discussed her role as an animal welfare activist.

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In addition to her on-screen success, Day was also an accomplished singer. Her most memorable songs included “Sentimental Journey” and “My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time.”

Zsa Zsa Gabor

Thanks to Johnny Carson and Zsa Zsa Gabor, Twister became a household favorite. When the “Moulin Rouge” actress made an appearance in 1966, the two spent the entire episode playing the game. It was released earlier that year, and it was expected that the Milton Bradley game would blow up.

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Unfortunately, upon its release, it was not as popular as expected. Thanks in large part to seeing the two celebrities creatively play together, Twister sales skyrocketed with over 3 million in the following few months!

Donna Summer

When Donna summer appeared on “The Tonight Show” on November 28th, 1979, she came with a message. Anything men can do, women can do as well. She was a fan of Johnny Carson as a child, and the “Queen of Disco” made sure that not only was she musically and theatrically talented, but she also made sure that Carson and the fans at home knew of her other skills.

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Carson remarked that Summer was mechanically talented, with the ability to fix cars, and made a rather politically incorrect comment about girls not being mechanically inclined. That’s when Summer put Carson in his place, as she should!

Adrienne Barbeau

Two weeks before Christmas 1974, the beautiful 27-year-old actress Adrienne Barbeau appeared on “The Tonight Show.” Seeing as it was just a couple of weeks before Christmas, Carson and Barbeau naturally started talking about gifts. The young actress shocked the late-night host and audiences at home by revealing that she had received many interesting gifts from lovers over the years.

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These gifts included a set of encyclopedias, car repair items, and a fire extinguisher. Being the true talk-sh0w host, Carson pointed out the “multiple lovers” comment, but Barbeau refrained from disclosing any personal details.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin has become one of the most influential musicians of all time, and unfortunately, one of the earlier members of the 27 Club. A few months before her tragic passing, Joplin made one of her many appearances on “The Dick Cavett Show.”

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Sadly, on August 3rd, 1970, Joplin gave her final interview and televised appearance on the show, performing “Half Moon” and “My Baby.” Known for her powerful mezzo-soprano voice and electric stage presence, the talented musician, would tragically lose her life on October 4th.

Raquel Welch

Even if you’re the most professional, straight-to-the-point talk show host, you know you’re in for a good time when Raquel Welch is the interviewee. With her stunning outfits, Colgate smile, and beautiful tan, Welch managed to make the uptight Dick Cavett seem a little more easygoing.

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The actress has a long list of television and movie roles under her belt, but her big break happened when she appeared in “One Million Years B.C.” She wore nothing but a deerskin bikini, immediately becoming a worldwide sensation. She continued her career as an actress, singer, and model and is remembered as one of the most beautiful stars in film history.

Madonna

Madonna, dubbed the “Queen of Pop,” was the kind of celebrity who drew everyone’s attention, especially in the late ’80s. On June 9th, 1987, Madonna made her first appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. Though many thought the Material Girl’s debut would be like any other guest on his popular late-night show, they were wrong.

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Madonna had a plan in mind, something that soon became evident to the fans at home. Madonna had a mission; throughout the show, she flirted with Carson, flirting to the point that was hard to ignore. A few months after the interview aired, Madonna traveled the world to promote her “Who’s That Girl” album. Coincidence? We think not.