Johnny Carson left The Tonight Show in 1992 as the undisputed King of Late Night. As TIME’s Richard Stengel wrote back then: “On Monday, May 25, the occupant of that chair will change from Johnny Carson to James Douglas Muir Leno, the man whose jutting jaw has launched a thousand bad metaphors. Leno will become the fourth person to sit in that spot since 1954, marking the end of the 30-year Carson era…” While arguably not as beloved as Carson (see: the debacle over handing the show over to Conan O’Brien), Leno has hosted almost as many shows and kept The Tonight Show at the top of the late-night ratings for almost his entire tenure. Leno is set to retire in 2014.
- How Do You Take Over for a Legend?
- Tim Cook / Steve Jobs
- Joe Girardi / Joe Torre
- Coco Chanel / Karl Lagerfeld
- Bob Paisley / Bill Shankly
- Sammy Hagar / David Lee Roth
- Gene Bartow / John Wooden
- Jay Leno / Johnny Carson
- Tim Floyd / Phil Jackson
- Lyndon B. Johnson / John F. Kennedy, Jr.
- Drew Carey / Bob Barker
- Ben Bernanke / Alan Greenspan
- George Seifert / Bill Walsh
- Jennifer Lopez / Simon Cowell
- Pope Benedict XVI / Pope John Paul II