Dick Carson, Johnny Carson’s Brother & ‘Tonight Show’ Director, Dies at 92

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/WireImage)

Dick Carson, The Tonight Show director and younger brother of TV host Johnny Carson, has reportedly passed away at the age of 92.

According to Fox News, Dick Carson passed away on December 19th after battling a brief illness. The TV director’s death was notably announced by his family through publicist Charlie Barrett. 

Born as Richard Charles Carson, he was the youngest child of Homer Lloyd and Ruth Hook Carson. After beginning his career in Nebraska radio, Carson relocated to San Diego, California to work for NBC affiliate KOGO TV. He eventually worked up to directing commercials for various local news and sports shows.

Dick Carson eventually moved to Los Angeles in 1960. He took on a directing position for children’s TV shows Chucko the Birthday Clown and The Soupy Sales Show. His brother, Johnny, eventually recommended him to join the New York crew of The Tonight Show. Johnny recommended his brother just a couple of months after he took over hosting duties for the talk show. Dick was responsible for directing musical talent, guest appearances, and sketches that featured his brother. 

After seven years on The Tonight Show, Dick Carson returned to California and became director of The Don Rickles Variety Show. He directed some episodes for TV shows such as Get Smart. Carson also served as director for the 1986 TV movie Cocoanut Ballroom. 

Dick Carson also served as director for The Merv Griffin Show and Merv Griffin and the Christmas Kids. He directed the series from 1972 through 1986. Carson went on to direct Wheel of Fortune for 22 years. He stayed on the hit game show until his retirement in 1999. According to his IMDb, the younger Carson notably directed more than 3,100 episodes of Wheel of Fortune. He had more than 40 years of experience in television. 

Dick Carson Spoke Called Johnny His “Hero” 10 Years After His Brother’s Passing

According to the DailyMail, Dick Carson recalled how his late brother, Johnny, was his hero. While speaking about his brother’s magic career, Dick stated, “He got into magic very, very early. And got into it and started doing magic shows for different places. I would go along and carry the luggage or bring in the props. Things like that.”

Dick Carson also said Johnny was super supportive of him when he decided to start directing The Merv Griffin Show. “I think Merv loved to have Johnny Carson’s brother there. But first I called Johnny and I said, ‘John, you won’t believe [this]. I just got a call from the Griffin people to direct his show. Opposite you. And how does that affect you or how, what do you think?’ He said, ‘Hey, it’s work,’ because he had been out of work many times in the early days. ‘It’s work.’”

Johnny Carson passed away in 2005.