Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

More than Military

Television Personality

For Johnny Carson, what ultimately became TV history started with the GI Bill.

Before he made history John William Carson went into the Navy, right out of high school. After his service in World War II, Carson enrolled at the University of Nebraska with support from the GI Bill.

Johnny Carson began hosting "Tonight," on Oct. 1, 1962, a show which was to become an American cultural institution. By 1978, "Tonight" reportedly accounted for 17% of NBC's profits earning $30 million a year through the mid-'80s. By 1980, Carson's production company, Carson Productions, became sole owner of "Tonight."

Johnny Carson won six Emmys and hosted the Academy Awards ceremony five times. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1987 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Johnny Carson Show launched many careers, including David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr and David Brenner.

During his 30-year reign as host of NBC's "The Tonight Show," Johnny Carson literally raised the standard of excellence for TV talk show hosts.

You could say that many careers received their boost to fame thanks to the talent and foresight of one man, Johnny Carson, and his unique vision for a TV program called, "The Tonight Show."

Going back even further, the truly innovative program that made all of this possible was the GI Bill.

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