Above: Johnny Carson and his long-time producer of The Tonight Show, Fred De Cordova.
De Cordova spoke to Fresh Air’s Terry Gross in 1988 about his relationship to Carson and his attitude about producing their iconic program:
Our show is kind of like a baseball team in a baseball season. If you do one show a year or one show every three months or one show every four months you have an awful lot of time to realize what a failure you’ve been. But we do kind of a baseball season, we do a show one night and we hope it’s wonderful, and if not that we hope it’s good, and we hope it isn’t bad. But even if it’s a great show or even if it’s not such a good show, we do another show the next night and we have no time except in self-analysis to decide why it wasn’t good or even why it was very good. We just do the next show and hope that will be a good one.