$156M Donation: Johnny Carson Generous, Even in Death


"Tonight Show" icon Johnny Carson has been dead for more than five years, but his generosity is still being felt. Carson's charitable foundation has reportedly received a stunning $156 million from a personal trust Carson had established before he died.

According to The Smoking Gun, the transfer from the late entertainer’s estate was disclosed in a tax return filed three months ago by the John W. Carson Foundation. To put all of this in perspective, the charity that David Geffen runs has listed assets of $80 million -- and that's considered one of the largest Hollywood charities.

Carson was notoriously private, and did very little to publicize his philanthropy. Even in death, there is a shroud of secrecy surrounding Carson -- there has never been a public accounting of Carson’s estate, so there is no way of knowing its total value.

His charity has made large donations to environmental groups, AIDS charities, schools, children’s aid organizations, and not-for-profits in Nebraska, where Carson grew up.

Carson died in January 2005 of emphysema at age 79. He was survived by his fourth wife, Alexis, and two sons from his first marriage.


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