Strained Relationship With His Son
Johnny Carson had many personal relationships that were strained, including within his own family. Among his four wives, he only had children with his first. One of his sons from that marriage, Rick Carson, had suffered from mental illness, which back in those years was a subject that was kept quiet. Rick eventually ended up in a mental hospital, and Johnny, perhaps embarrassed by it, refused to see him.
The two had been estranged up until June of 1991, when Rick’s vehicle fell off of a cliff on the roads nearby the town of Morro Bay, California. He did not survive the 125-foot drop. Carson spoke about his son after the incident on his show.