Johnny Carson's Buffalo Connections

Buffalo, NY – The late Johnny Carson had several links to Buffalo during his career as host of the Tonight Show. A local clothing manufacturer had the contract for the Johnny Carson line of clothing. And a prominent chamber orchestra from our area once performed on Carson's show.

Johnny Carson jokes about Buffalo's snowy winters are now legendary. But he once traveled here right in the heart of one of our winters for a sales meeting about his clothing line. For 15 years, starting in 1969, Buffalo's M. Wile Company made and marketed Johnny Carson suits and other apparel. Joseph Diskin, who is now semi-retired in Florida, worked with Carson on the account.

"From my perspective, he was very nice," Diskin said. "Even though he owned part of the Johnny Carson Apparel Company, he always listened to our advice and went along with what we needed from him.

"But he didn't like doing the photography. He'd always say, 'I'm not a model.'"

Diskin said he met with Carson about four or five times a year. Diskin said Carson came to Buffalo just once, on January 29, 1972 -- he has a picture of that meeting in his office.

Also reflecting on the Carson legacy was Steve Rosenthal of the Amherst Saxophone Quartet. The ASQ appeared on the Tonight Show in 1985. Rosenthal says he remembers Carson as a man who displayed much grace and kindness.

"He had this aura about him. He made you feel instantly comfortable," Rosenthal said. "Everything about the show was guaranteed to make you look and sound the best."

Rosenthal says Carson seemed to enjoy the quartet's performance. He said there will never be another entertainer in the Carson mold.