1939 Car Courtesy Of Leno Shows At Newly Refurbished Carson Gallery | news

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Johnny Carson’s 1939 Chrysler Royal is home again – at least temporarily.

The dark green six-cylinder cars that Carson drove to his high school graduation in 1943, the car he drove through the hilly Nebraska countryside and city in his 1982 TV special Johnny Goes Home, is on display at the Elkhorn Museum. Valley to Norfolk.

The car was provided by Jay Leno – another former Tonight Show host who followed Carson – to whom Carson “donated” the car, said Ashley Brown, director of the museum.

But wait. There’s more.

The car is just one feature of the newly refurbished Johnny Carson Gallery, which will open to the public on Friday.

Many of the exhibits at the 19-year-old exhibition are included in the renovated space. But new elements have been added, including photographs, some of which are courtesy of Life Magazine; his Rolodex, which includes Betty White’s phone number; and the costume he wore when he portrayed Aunt Bubby in Tonight Show, and more.

His Emmy awards are still in effect, and guests can still watch portions of Today’s Show while sitting in a 1960s living room with a TV that was being worked on by Flint Hills Design in North Newton, Kansas. the project is several years old.

Work to revamp the Carson show began in 2018 with a fundraising campaign and hiring a design team, Brown said. When COVID appeared, progress slowed, but did not stop. Now, three years later, the space is ready for guests who, if they take the time to read the dashboards, will learn about the person behind the witticisms.

“We’ve included more information about his career and personal life,” Brown said. “It humanizes Johnny. We often idolize people and put them on a pedestal. (The exhibition) establishes a personal connection and focuses on who he was. “

That’s why all of Carson’s wives are on display, which also includes a copy of a scrapbook created by his mother, which includes newspaper clippings of stories about her son.

While reading the panels and viewing photographs is educational, the new exhibition includes several interactive zones. One allows visitors to sit on the guest chairs next to Carson’s desk and chat with a comedian figurine. Elsewhere, guests can practice their monologue skills on a replica of Carson’s stage, decorated with rainbow-colored curtains.

“People can stand on stage and pretend to be Johnny,” Brown said. “It’s an opportunity to take photos that people can share on social media.”

Many of the artifacts – old and new – are courtesy of Jeff Sotzing, Carson’s nephew, who has worked with Carson for many years and still helps manage his affairs. Sotzing also facilitated the loan of the car.

Brown said that she once spoke to Sotzing and mentioned that it “would be great” to leave the car at home.

“He said, ‘I’ll call Jay.’ “

Soon Sotzing called back and gave the phone number of one of Leno’s assistants, and the Chrysler wheels began to move. Osten Hagood, a member of the museum’s board, helped coordinate a rental car that arrived in Norfolk by truck in early June. He will be in the museum until September.

Carson’s original gallery opened in the fall of 2002, a year after Carson responded to a request for exhibit items about him by sending almost everything he exhibited at his office in Burbank, California, to the museum. He left the Tonight Show 10 years ago and was closing his office, he said at the time.

Although Carson died in 2005, museum officials and other Norfolk residents believe it is important to introduce the artist to a generation who do not know why his name is written in theaters, cancer centers and other institutions.

“Hopefully we’ll educate the youth about Johnny … and teach them why his name is everywhere,” Brown said. “And we will provide returning visitors with a new way to experience Johnny and his legacy.”

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