(RNN) – Johnny Carson's last Tonight Show aired May 22, 1992.
Carson created many characters and skits, including Carnac the Magnificent, Art Fern, Aunt Blabby and impersonating Ronald Reagan, including one particularly hilarious Who's On First-style parody of the names of government officials.
Carson transformed the late night talk show genre and helped launch the careers of dozens of other performers, including Jay Leno, David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld and Roseanne Barr.
While his last show aired May 22, 1992, the final guests appeared the night before. The last show was a retrospective with pre-taped segments and included a look back at some of the show's more memorable moments. Robin Williams and Bette Midler were the final guests, culminating in an emotional sendoff by Midler, which caused Carson to tear up on air.
Here are some of the events of note that happened between May 20-26.
This is an easy week to work in a John Wayne reference, because he was born May 26, 1907. If you read this column on a regular basis, you've seen much discussion about Wayne - who was born Marion Morrison - sometimes when it isn't necessary.
Wayne starred multiple times with Jimmy Stewart, who was born May 20, 1908. The Duke's birthday is shared by James Arness (1923), who Wayne recommended for Gunsmoke, Miles Davis (1926), Stevie Nicks (1948) and Hank Williams Jr (1949). It was also the day a frequent co-star, Eddie Albert, died (2005) as well as the day Art Linkletter died in 2010.
There are many classic movie moments from John Wayne, and it's been stated here more than once that my favorite John Wayne movie is True Grit, so in honor of his birthday, here's the best scene of the Duke's best movie (mild profanity).
May 21 has several notable birthdays as well, including Ara Parseghian (1923), Mr. T (1952), Judge Reinhold (1957), Notorious B.I.G. (1972) and in an odd twist of fate, Chris Benoit (1967) and his wife, Nancy (1964).
Ken Jennings, who did the impossible by making Jeopardy! must-see TV, was born May 23, 1974. Laurence Olivier was born May 22, 1907, and Bob Dylan was born May 24, 1941.
Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed May 23, 1934, in northwest Louisiana. A large group of police hid along a desolate rural road until the pair drove by in a stolen car and opened fire, tearing into the vehicle and delivering multiple fatal shots to both of them. There were rumors the two were buried in the same grave, but in reality they aren't even in the same cemetery, though both were buried in Dallas, TX. The car they were in is on display at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, DC.
Howard Morris, who played Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show, died May 21, 2005.
John F. Kennedy vowed to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade May 25, 1961, in a speech to Congress. It wasn't the most famous speech he gave on the topic, which was given a little more than a year later, but it was a still a landmark moment in American history, and a rare example of a politician saying he wants something, having Congress agree to it and then it actually happening.
Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 21, 1927. Lindbergh took off from Long Island, NY, and landed in Paris 33 hours later. Exactly five years later, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to cross the Atlantic. She took off from Newfoundland and intended to fly to Paris as well, but was forced to land in Ireland due to bad weather.
The most powerful earthquake ever recorded - 9.5 - hit Chile on May 22, 1960, and the deadliest recorded tornado in the U.S. hit Joplin, MO, May 22, 2011. Both occurred the day after the anniversary of the creation of the Red Cross, which was founded May 21, 1881.
Pac-Man was released May 21, 1980, and the popular interactive Google doodle of Pac-Man is still playable.
The Brooklyn Bridge opened May 24, 1883. At the time it opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It took 14 years to build and several people died during construction, including the bridge's designer. Also, the Gateway Arch was dedicated May 25, 1968.
Levi Strauss received a patent to create blue jeans May 20, 1873. The forgotten man in the development of blue jeans is Jacob Davis, who also was granted the patent. Davis filed the patent, but partnered with Strauss, who owned the store where Davis bought his supplies. Davis was the tailor who manufactured the new product and it was sold in Strauss' store.
The first Preakness was run May 23, 1873, and was won by Survivor. Survivor held the record for margin of victory - 10 lengths - until 2004 when Smarty Jones won by 12 1/2. Seattle Slew won the Preakness May 21, 1977, on his way to being the only undefeated Triple Crown winner. The last Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, won the Preakness on May 20, 1978.
The Cincinnati Reds won the first major league night game 2-1 over the Philadelphia Phillies on May 24, 1935.
Annika Sorenstam became the first woman to play on the PGA Tour in 58 years when she entered the Colonial on May 22, 2003. Sorenstam shot 71 and 74 - 5-over par - in the first two rounds and missed the cut.
The Battle of Hamburger Hill ended May 20, 1969. The battle lasted more than a week and 72 U.S. soldiers were killed in the fight. The hill was of little value and was abandoned two weeks after it was captured. The battle was controversial and led to a change in the tactics used in the Vietnam War.
The USS Scorpion sank May 21, 1968 - a date determined only in retrospect as the ship wasn't identified as missing until May 26 and declared lost June 5. There were 99 people on board the submarine at the time, and all died.
Geek Pride Day is May 25 because that's when the original Star Wars movie was released in 1977. It's also the 1983 release date of Return of the Jedi.
Obviously, Geek Pride Day is a time to celebrate your love for everything fantasy, science fiction, comic book and video game. Start your day with the worst video on YouTube and, because it's a Saturday, end with a four-hour TBS marathon of The Big Bang Theory.
The most popular song ever.
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