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The AP is reporting that Johnny Carson, the gold standard for modern day talk show hosts, has died at 79. Many of us grew up watching Carson smoothly lob jokes at celebrities, dress up for skits, and give many rising stars a chance...or we'd pretend we understood why Charo was there. Again. But who couldn't love Carnac the Magnificient? He had kept a low profile after retiring his Tonight Show gig in 1992, but it was recently reported that Carson would contribute jokes to David Letterman's Late Show monologues. Oh, Johnny, we have to go and miss you again.

Updated: The NY Times has its obituary up; expect quotes and news of tribute shows tomorrow. Here's the The Official Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson site. And here's the Wikipedia entry on Carson. And did you know that he hosted the Tonight Show in NYC for 7 years, before the move to Burbank? [Related: Conan O'Brien will take over Tonight Show duties in 2009.]