One in this series of late-night talk/variety programs hosted by Johnny Carson. Carson's guests for this program are actor/comedian Orson Bean, musician Roy Clark, comedian Gabriel Kaplan, and actress Madlyn Rhue.

In this New Year's Eve episode, Carson eschews his usual opening monologue and instead delivers a heartfelt tribute to his close friend and mentor, comedy legend Jack Benny, who passed away on December 26th at the age of 80. Carson describes Benny as a kindly "booster" of other up-and-coming comedians, and he then introduces a clip of Benny's final appearance on "The Tonight Show" on June 24th, in which Benny discusses his "paid" appearance on Carson's show; why he has "no idea" of the true age of his wife of 47 years, Mary Livingstone (who had recently turned 66); their "pathetic" 1927 wedding night; his close friendship with fellow comedian George Burns; and upcoming highlights from his career.

Carson and announcer Ed McMahon briefly discuss celebrating their 17th New Year's as a comedy team. The first guest, Bean, takes the stage and chats about his recent family Christmas celebration; his fond memories of Benny; why he intends to "hang loose" in 1975; why he does not make New Year's resolutions; and a long story involving his desert sojourn after the breakdown of his VW van, the repair of which led to a "gypsy curse."

Next, Clark takes the stage and plays a song, after which he talks with Carson about traveling to Bimini on a "broke boat"; and the perils of performing at nightclubs on rowdy New Year's Eve. Clark then plays "Sally Was a Good Old Girl."

Kaplan performs a stand-up routine, touching upon such topics as: the dangers of driving on New Year's Eve; his discovery of a new interfaith holiday figure, "Hanu-Claus"; Howard Cosell and Alex Karras' idiosyncratic reporting on "Monday Night Football"; and stories of a funny high school coach. He then briefly chats with Carson about his childhood in Brooklyn, New York and his time on a local basketball team; and his current efforts on the Comedy Store's wisecracking softball team.

The final guest, Rhue takes the stage with a rum-and-blackeyed-peas dish that she describes as a good-luck charm for the new year, commenting on why she generally does not drink, despite playing an alcoholic on "Bracken's World"; a funny story about a date gone disastrously wrong; and a surprise gift from actor Robert Blake, her co-star on an episode of "Slattery's People" and an upcoming episode of "Baretta." Lastly, bandleader Doc Severinsen and the NBC Orchestra play an up-tempo version of Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe." Includes commercials and promos.


  • DATE: December 31, 1974 11:30 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:15:51
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: B:78631
  • GENRE: Talk/Interview
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Comedy/Variety
  • SERIES RUN: NBC - TV series, 1962-1992
  • COMMERCIALS: TV - Commercials - Celeste frozen pizzas^TV - Commercials - Alpo dog food^TV - Commercials - Liver Snaps dog treats^TV - Commercials - Beauty Mist panty hose^TV - Commercials - Vicks Formula 44 cough medicine^TV - Commercials - Delta Airlines^TV - Commercials - Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes^TV - Commercials - Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants^TV - Commercials - "Freebie and the Bean" motion picture^TV - Commercials - Skippy dog food^TV - Commercials - Florida orange juice^TV - Commercials - Vaseline petroleum jelly^TV - Commercials - Tegrin dandruff shampoo^TV - Commercials - McDonald's restaurants^TV - Commercials - Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal^TV - Promos - "The Mac Davis Show"^TV - Promos - NBC coverage of "Rose Bowl" and "Orange Bowl"^TV - Promos - "Tomorrow"


    • Johnny Carson … Host
    • Ed McMahon … Announcer
    • Orson Bean … Guest
    • Roy Clark … Guest
    • Gabriel Kaplan (see also: Gabe Kaplan) … Guest
    • Madlyn Rhue … Guest
    • Jack Benny
    • George Burns
    • Howard Cosell
    • Bobbie Gentry
    • Alex Karras
    • Mary Livingstone