Aug 27, 2012

The Woman Behind the Man: TV Talk Show Host Spouses

A wide TV viewership knows the most popular TV talk show host better than they know some members of their own family. Many embrace a faithful relationship with these media stars who share their lives through their television shows. Over the years, they often mention their spouse and even include references to the children, but the details are sketchy. Have you ever wondered about "the significant other" in their lives? Let's peep through the window and learn a bit about the spouses of five famous Talk Show hosts.

The true king of late night television, former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, is well-known for joking about his many (count ‘em: four) marriages. Multiple marriages are far from unique in Hollywood, but what makes Carson’s couplings interesting is his first three spouses were similarly named.

Carson’s first wife was Joan Wolcott, who he met in college. The couple married in 1949 and split in 1963. They had three sons, Charles (Kit), Cory and Richard. Richard died in an auto accident in 1991.
Only months later, Carson married his second wife, Joanne Copeland. That marriage almost topped 10 years, but the two called in quits in 1972, following a grueling legal battle that ended with Copeland receiving a settlement of nearly $500,000 and annual alimony from Carson.
Johnny and Alexis Carson

That same year, Carson married third wife model Joanna Holland. This one lasted 11 years -until 1983. For the first time in 35 years, Carson lived life as an unmarried man from 1983 to 1987. He married for the final time in June of 1987; Carson and Alexis Maas remained together until Carson's death, nearly eighteen years later.


At age 74, in 1999, Carson suffered a severe heart attack while he was sleeping at his Malibu, California home. Soon after, he underwent quadruple-bypass surgery. In January of 2005, at age 79, Carson died of respiratory failure caused by emphysema.
Johnny Carson as Carnac
In preparation for a PBS documentary on Johnny Carson, three of his former wives were interviewed. They spoke of Johnny's alleged addition to alcohol and sex and their experiences with his drinking and philandering. Filmmaker Jones also says Johnny would have multiple sexual relationships on the side throughout his marriages: “Johnny had a lot of sex, and he enjoyed sex. There were multiple relationships that Johnny Carson had while he was married.” Jones also claims that Johnny drank abusively until he died in 2005.

 Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi

One of the cutest couples in Hollywood, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and actress Portia de Rossi met in 2000, but didn’t start dating until 2004. It was love at first sight, according to de Rossi, though the couple took it slow and tried their best to keep things private.
DeGeneres and de Rossi married in August 2008, while same-sex marriage was still legal in California.
In October 2008, DeGeneres went on The Tonight Show to talk about her marriage. "I think it feels different,” she said. “I didn't think it would, but I'm very happy. My mother got to be a part of something that she didn't think she ever would."

David Letterman
It came as a bit of surprise Late Show announced in March 2009 that he’d married his girlfriend of 23 years, Regina Lasko.
Lasko and Letterman were married in a quiet civil service in Choteau, Montana. Getting to the courthouse proved a bit of a challenge. While en route, their truck became stuck in the mud. Letterman walked two miles back to their home to get a second vehicle.


Some might see that as an omen. Only seven months later, Letterman would come clean to his audience that he had had affairs with a certain number of Late Show employees. The revelation came after a former television producer allegedly tried to extort money from him by threatening to expose the affairs.

Jay Leno

Often talked about but rarely seen, Mavis Leno is the wife of talk show host Jay Leno. Casual fans of Leno will recognize the name and, traditionally, picture a down-to-earth Midwest gal who stays home and lets Leno play with his cars.

But the real Mavis Leno is a well-known feminist, philanthropist and chair of the FeministMajority Foundation’s Campaign for Women and Girls in Afghanistan.

Leno met Mavis at one of his comedy club appearances in 1976. She was in the audience. Leno told Larry King that he stood by the women’s restroom until she came by so that he could meet her. They were married four years later at a friend’s home.




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