He was the King of the Night. Between 1962 and 1992, Johnny Carson ruled supreme as host of The Tonight Show. His humor and appeal cut across all boundaries of age, ethnicity and politics because Carson was an equal opportunity satirist. His comedy was gentle by today's standards, but always on the mark. His unique ability to turn even a bad joke into a big laugh was inimitable. The American Masters TV series recently aired the most in-depth portrait of this man ever undertaken. He was genial on TV, but standoffish behind the scenes. Few really got to know him, including his string of wives. He was opaque and hated to discuss himself. In a rare interview from the 1980s on 60 Minutes, Carson opened up a bit, admitting he could not handle alcohol and was a bad drunk. He was a distant father to his sons and had many friendly acquaintances but few close friends. Even his legendary sidekicks Ed McMahon and Doc Severinsen couldn't get beneath his surface. Yet, Carson endured and thrived, outlasting high profile talents who had planned to make him irrelevant. He negotiated from NBC the most lucrative contracts in the history of television. When he did leave the network, it was by his own choosing and at the top of his game. The messy race to replacement permanently ruined the friendships between Jay Leno and David Letterman, and still had its tentacles into the fate of Conan O'Brien in more recent years. This much is true: I still miss Carson. There was something soothing about knowing that, no matter had bad your day was, this man was going to make you laugh. He also thrived in a time of legends, so you tuned in to see drop bys from some unexpected guests as Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and John Wayne. In the early days of his reign on The Tonight Show, TV hadn't devolved into a cultural cesspool. Carson educated even as he entertained. One minute he would be matching insults with Don Rickles and the next he would be interviewing a scientist or professor. He elevated the medium at every opportunity. Click here for a tribute to the late TV icon on the 20th anniversary of his retirement, along with vintage highlights from his programs.