Johnny Carson’s wife had an affair with Frank Gifford

Taylor Bigler Entertainment Editor
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Noted womanizer, alcoholic and late-night king Johnny Carson was The Man. But that didn’t stop him from being a man who was cuckolded by his second wife.

An excerpt from a new biography, “Johnny Carson” by Carson’s longtime friend and lawyer Henry Bushkin, details how the talk show host found out about his second wife’s (Joanne Copeland) affair with NFL player and sportscaster Frank Gifford (who is now married to Kathy Lee).

Deadspin pulled a tidbit from an excerpt that was published in Entertainment Weekly last week about how he and Carson broke into his wife’s secret apartment that Carson did not know she had.

“I have reason to believe my wife is cheating on me,” Carson told Bushkin. “I also have an idea who the son of a bitch is that she’s shacking up with.”

The two broke into Copeland’s apartment and Carson found several framed photos of her and Gifford together. Bushkin writes, via Deadspin:

Carson leaned against the living room wall and began to weep. […] I could see that Carson’s raincoat had fallen open. I was shocked to see that Johnny was carrying a .38 revolver in a holster on his hip.

Later the same night, a hammered Carson called Bushkin to come to a bar where he was drinking with Ed McMahon (natch). Once he saw Bushkin walk into the bar, he said to McMahon, “Ed? We’re done here, right?” And McMahon got up and left, because Johnny F**king Carson basically told him to.

A drunk and upset Carson was still lucid enough to make the quip to Bushkin, “Why Frank Gifford? What’s that asshole got that I don’t have? That guy plays three positions on the field. I could never get Joanne to go for more than two.”

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