Rare 1971 Tonight Show Clip With Johnny Carson & The Hilarious Bob Uecker

Johnny Carson Looks At Press Photos With Bob Uecker, Going Over Bob’s Legendary Baseball Career

In the mid-90s actor Leslie Nielsen was doing publicity for a comedic book “Bad Golf My Way.”  The radio stations who set up interviews with Nielsen expected the star of “Airplane” and  “Police Squad / The Naked Gun” to be as witty as the man who was in those movies.

While Leslie Nielsen had a sense of humor he was not a funny man. The public seems to forget that writers write those funny lines for actors to say.

Nielsen did his best, doing four hours of back to back interviews with FM stations across the country. But the radio hosts mostly got a reality check. Just because you’re a comedic actor does not translate into being a funny guest.

On the other hand Bob Uecker was a professional baseball catcher for six seasons in the 1960s who had a career .200 batting average. While Uecker was by his own estimate not a particularly good ballplayer, he was very funny. Uecker parlayed his natural sense of humor into a fifty year career as a baseball announcer and talk show guest, and he is still going strong, The 87-year-old Uecker remains the radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Here is Uecker’s seventh appearance on The Tonight Show, September 23, 1971.

What makes this clip rare is that for the first 10 years that Carson hosted The Tonight Show from New York, almost every tape was subsequently erased. The amount of Tonight Show footage still in existence from 1962 -1972 before the show moved permanently to California is minuscule.

Uecker would make over 100 appearances on the Tonight Show. Uecker will kickoff his 51st season as the Brewers announcer on Thursday, April 1 on Milwaukee’s WTMJ-AM (620) as the Brewers open their season against the Minnesota Twins.

3 thoughts on “Rare 1971 Tonight Show Clip With Johnny Carson & The Hilarious Bob Uecker

  1. Diane

    This is funny as Ucker could be so funny while keeping a straight face. I miss the Carson days. Now I know why I can’t find many of the shows.
    Why would those early shows have been erased? Sounds like the NASA moon mission excuse! Something doesn’t add up there.

  2. Brian

    I like late-night talk shows, but I like the monologues and sketches. I usually tune out when the guests come on, as most are boring and just there to plug their latest project. This was true back in the Carson days, although he’d have genuinely interesting guests like Carl Sagan occasionally. He’d also have truly hilarious guests like Robin Williams, who would just go nuts the whole time he was on.


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