8 Infamous Recluses Who Vanished From The Spotlight

Published September 27, 2017
Updated September 30, 2020

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson

Wikimedia Commons

Heeeere’s Johnny! Or … not. The TV host with the golden comedic timing became notoriously private after his retirement in 1992. Even before he stepped down as the king of late-night, the seemingly gregarious star gave few interviews — and withdrew if they went too in-depth.

The one and only social function that Carson continued to participate in was monthly poker night at friend and producer Daniel Melnick’s house. It was mostly the same crew every time, including people like Steve Martin, Neil Simon, and Chevy Chase.

“John was not comfortable playing with someone he didn’t know,” Melnick says. “I’d have to brief him beforehand.” Other than the poker games, Carson spent a lot of time traveling with a very close-knit group, or alone on his yacht.

Such is the paradox of the ever-outgoing man on stage versus the very reserved and quiet man off of it. Perhaps the most relevant reason for Carson’s double persona was the lack of approval by his critical mother, Ruth. Is this why he strove so diligently for the approval of America? Here’s hoping he finally received it before his death in 2005.

Erin Kelly
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.