A Hard Act to Follow
by Henry Bushkin
A Hard Act to Follow is a non-fiction literary account of Henry Bushkin's tenure as Johnny Carson's lawyer, business partner, and friend. The book gives genuine insight into the 'Carson behind Johnny' with candid personal vignettes about the two, during the rollicking years when Johnny was the undisputed king of television. This is an engaging, eye-opening, anecdote-packed story about a young lawyer and his client, one of the biggest celebrities in the country. This funny, unfiltered account gives readers a look at the Johnny Carson that none but a select few really knew.
A Hard Act to Follow by Henry Bushkin provides a stirring account into Johnny Carson’s world—as told by Carson’s closest confidant. A New Yorker article by Kenneth Tynan from 1978, included the following question and answer:
Tynan: When you’re at home, whom do you entertain?
Carson: My lawyer, Henry Bushkin, who’s probably my best friend.
I was now officially Johnny Carson’s lawyer, an amazing turn of events, as astonishing as if I had won a lottery. But I didn’t have much time to savor my good fortune.
People have often asked me how the hell a young, wet-behind- the-ears lawyer got himself hired to represent one of the biggest names in entertainment. Well, I’ve described the how, but I don’t know if anyone can fully explain the why. All I know is that one of Carson’s favorite sayings was “It’s all in the timing,” and timing had a lot to do with what happened. I met Johnny at just about the moment he had begun to suspect that the icons that had been representing him hadn’t really done a very good job protecting his welfare. After that, all I can say is that I was then able to offer the qualities needed at the moment— earnestness, interest, willingness, and sufficient intellect.
And a certain tenacity. My first employers and mentors, Jerry Kushnick and Howard Beldock, taught me to be alert and always on the lookout for new clients.
In those New York days of the early 1970s, lawyers tenaciously vied for clients, entertainment lawyers especially. From the moment I signed on as a young associate, they drilled me in the techniques of client protocols. Never decline a case until I had spoken to them, and never admit to a potential client a lack of expertise in any legal discipline. If Johnny Carson needed a divorce lawyer, my complete lack of expertise in matrimonial law was immaterial; I would just work like hell to turn myself into the best divorce lawyer in New York. My job was to go the extra mile to prepare myself and to rely on the senior partners if I found myself in over my head. But pass up a client? Never!
You won’t be surprised to learn that things grew complicated fast.
http://johnnycarsonbook.com | Amazon
About the Author
Henry Bushkin is an experienced lawyer who practices in both California and New York. He currently lives in Los Angeles where his children also reside.