Film reel from the 1960s of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” believed to have been destroyed turned up in a military archive, the Defense Department announced.
“Everything from the 1960s is considered lost,” Pedro Loureiro an archivist at the Defense Imagery Management Operations Center, told the Armed Forces Press Service, explaining that studios would reuse film reel and record over old episodes.
But not all the film reel was recycled. “Somebody had the brains or historical foresight to save this reel,” Loureiro said. The military had the film because “In the 1960s, the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service received film reels from the production studios and distributed the programming to its stations for service members around the world,” according to AFPS.
The newly-discovered film reel contains episodes dating back to 1963. DOD gave it to Jeff Sotzing, Johnny Carson’s nephew.
“I’m really looking forward to adding this film to the collection,” Sotzing said. “Almost everything from 1962 to 1973 is gone.”