Fowler remembers Johnny Carson - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fowler remembers Johnny Carson

January 23, 2005

Dougherty County- When people think of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson they almost always remember he animal segments with Jim Fowler.

Whether it was a two-toed sloth or a raging water buffalo, Fowler says Carson knew how to roll with the punches. He admits it's going to be hard to say goodbye to not only a friend, but a television icon.

"It's hit me pretty hard because he was kind of a mentor," Fowler says.

Jim Fowler will never forget when Johnny Carson left the Tonight Show.

"Ed McMahon came to me and he said people don't realize how much they're going to miss Johnny Carson, and I think that's really the case."

Fowler kept in contact with Carson over the years and says the comedian never lost his sense of humor, which Fowler says to this day remains unmatched.

"Johnny Carson was the only guy on television, that's talking today also, who never tried to make something happen. He never tried to be funny, and I think that's the real key to television," claims Fowler.

But Carson was funny, and he was able to teach Fowler how to see the humor in life, and in turn the wildlife expert was able to share his affinity with animals Carson.

Fowler says one of the most memorable moments was when Carson met a 2,000 pound water buffalo.

"Waldo was his name. I had a saddle on him and the first thing I knew Johnny was sitting on the saddle on top of this buffalo, with a cowboy hat on singing I'm a rhinestone cowboy," laughs Fowler.

In addition to his quick wit and spontaneity, Fowler came to know another side of Johnny, one that was both intellectual and intelligent. Fowler says it really showed during a trip to the two took Africa.

"Did you know that he learned Swahili in a matter of four months before the trip. He was speaking to the staff in Swahili when we got to Africa."

Even after all his accomplishments in the animal world Fowler says that trip with his friend was the highlight of his career.

"Everybody's going to miss Johnny Carson."

Fowler also says Carson was a true family man and spent much of his later years traveling with his family. He says Carson told him if he ever came back to television he wanted to do something with wildlife.

The wildlife expert appeared on the Tonight Show nearly one hundred times during Johnny Carson's thirty year career as the host of the late night show.

Posted at 6:40 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com

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