Obituary by Richard Carson (1929 – 2021) – Studio City, California
June 4, 1929 – December 19, 2021
Dick Carson, 92, passed away peacefully at his home in Studio City, Calif. On December 19, 2021, in the loving embrace of his family, after a brief illness. Richard Charles Carson, was born in Clarinda, IA the youngest of three children to Homer Lloyd “Kit” and Ruth Hook Carson. Most knew him as Dick, and later in life his beloved granddaughters knew him as Poppy. The Carson family lived in several small towns in Iowa before settling in Norfolk, NE, as the father’s work in the utility industry increased job responsibilities and advancement to a managerial level. statewide.
It was in Norfolk that Dick attended school until he graduated in 1947. He was a popular youngster who enjoyed playing sports, especially basketball. But he also played the trumpet and appeared in high school drama productions. Later, while a student at the University of Nebraska, he performed in productions on campus and in the Lincoln Community Theater. He graduated from college in 1952, majoring in speech and radio and being named “Best Announcer” by his honorary national radio fraternity. He was also a member of the Phi Gamma Delta Brotherhood. He did a summer internship at KGOR Radio in Lincoln and was program director for the University of Nebraska radio station.
In July 1952, Dick married his high school girlfriend Patricia Ann Gundy, and they were married for 34 years, until her death in 1986. They started their family while Dick served in the United States Navy, being stationed in California and ultimately raising three children.
A few months after his marriage he attended the Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI and was sworn in as ensign, USNR in March 1953, later attaining the rank of lieutenant, JG. He was assigned to the USS Romulus as an Operations and Communications Officer until his separation from the Navy in 1956. He then served in the Naval Reserve on inactive service as a full lieutenant for 11 years. additional, before being transferred to the Reserve at retirement. His naval service was a source of pride for Dick.
After his naval service ended, Dick and Pat decided to stay in California, and he began to work, not in radio, but in a new medium: television. At San Diego TV station KOGO TV, NBC’s local affiliate, he first worked as a âfront manâ for local programming, then began directing commercials, news and sports. local. When a summer job opportunity as a stage manager and associate director for ABC in Los Angeles became available in 1960, he commuted to fill it, and within months that led his family to move to city ââto take a permanent position of director of children’s programs. including “Chucko the Birthday Clown.” He then moved on to directing “The Soupy Sales Show”.
When he got a call in 1962 regarding a possible job on the New York-based “Tonight Show”, he went for an interview knowing that he had been suggested by the young man who would soon star in the show. show — Johnny Carson. His credits were largely unknown to the interviewer, who, out of courtesy to Johnny, had agreed to chat with the interpreter’s younger brother, Dick. He discovered that the young man had a good background as a director and that he was ready to move to New York and start his new job before Johnny himself began his long career on the series. Dick led many famous hosts in the weeks before Johnny was free to begin his tenure. He has proven himself to be creative and professional, and particularly good at leading musical talent and showing top performers. He’s directed guest writers, actors, politicians, comedians, animal acts, sports figures, and Johnny himself’s comedy skits. He loved being exposed to the exceptional talent of the musicians of “The Tonight Show”, for whom he had great respect and a great connection.
Directing “The Tonight Show”, then 1h30 of unedited live television every weekday evening, was both exhilarating and exhausting. The night trips between town and the family home in suburban Armonk, New York, were long, allowing him to spend less time with his family than he wanted. After almost seven years, Dick decided to return to California as the director of “The Don Rickles Variety Show”, which only had a short run. He worked as a freelance for a time, directing episodes of Arthur Godfrey’s “Your All-American College Show”, an award-winning episode of “Get Smart” and “The Sammy Davis Show”, as well as commercials and pilots. . His booming announcer voice earned him an audition as a quiz host, but he found he was more comfortable behind the camera than before.
Dick was hired as a director on “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1972, and continued in that role until Griffin retired in 1986, with the exception of a brief hiatus. This program, which was unionized, made frequent Las Vegas shows and traveled to Paris, Monaco, Venice and Israel, featuring a wide range of guests. Griffin’s love for tennis created trips to overseas matches with professional players and celebrities. Before the talk show ended, Dick also began directing Griffin’s popular “Wheel of Fortune” game show, which he continued to do for 22 years. until his own retirement. He also ran several years of live New Years Eve programming for Atlantic City’s Merv Griffin after the Griffin talk show ended. In total, Dick’s long 43-year career has included directing thousands of television shows. During this career he received five Emmy Awards
In 1987, Dick was invited by close childhood friends to return to Nebraska as a guest at a golf tournament in Omaha. They arranged for him, a widower, to have a dinner companion on the last night of the tournament. The dinner date proved to be long lasting: Dick’s companion for the evening was Karlyn Kuper, an interior designer in Omaha, whose parents, coincidentally, had been neighbors and friends of Dick’s late parents for many years. many years in Columbus, NE, where the elder Carsons had finally moved. There was a year-long courtship, in which the couple bonded, not only with each other, but also with each other’s families and circles of friends. They married and lived in California, but Dick enjoyed spending time “at home” in the Midwest, after an absence of several decades, and this will be his last home.
Dick’s survivors include his beloved 33-year-old wife, Karlyn; son, Douglas (Nola); son, Christopher (Deborah); daughter, Kathleen Ann Tucker (Kevin); granddaughter, Lindsey Ann Ritenour (Chase); granddaughter, Melissa Ann Pregler (Justin); granddaughter, Chase Alexandra Carson; great-granddaughter, Peyton Jane Ritenour; sister-in-law, Alexis Carson; and an extended family of nephews and nieces by marriage. Besides his first wife, he was predeceased by a young son; his parents; her sister and brother-in-law, Catharine and Ralph Sotzing; and his brother Jean.
The family would like to thank Teri David and Anna Santy, who over the past few months have provided music and laughter, as well as their good care, to Dick and his family. Memorials are suggested to the Providence St. Joseph Medical Center’s Minutes Matter Emergency Services Campaign c / o the Providence Saint Joseph Foundation at 501 S. Buena Vista St. Burbank, CA 91505 or a charity of choice of the donor.
Published by Omaha World-Herald on January 9, 2022.