Dick Carson, TV Director and Johnny Carson’s Younger Brother, Dies at 92

The 12-time Daytime Emmy-nominee won five awards for directing “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Merv Griffin Show”

Johnny Carson Dick Carson
Johnny Carson (left) with his brother Dick Carson (photo by Getty Images)

Dick Carson, a television director best known for his work on “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Tonight Show,” has died. He was 92.

Carson’s family announced the news on Sunday, saying he died in his home after a brief illness.

Though Carson was best known for his television work, he originally started in radio, working in Nebraska in the early years of his career. He graduated college in 1952 with a degree in speech and radio and was named “Best Announcer” by his National Honorary Radio Fraternity.

It wasn’t until years later that Carson got his start in television, working as a “floor man” for local programming, then later directing commercials and local news and sports shows. Eventually, he got a summer job as a stage manager and associate director for ABC in Los Angeles, and went on to earn a permanent position directing children’s programs including “Chucko the Birthday Clown.” Carson later directed “The Soupy Sales Show.”

It was thanks to his older brother, Johnny Carson, that Dick Carson wound up in New York. Johnny got him an interview with “The Tonight Show” even though he wasn’t officially hosting the show at the time. When Dick Carson joined the show, he directed musical talent, guest appearances and sketches.

Dick Carson eventually left “The Tonight Show” to direct the short-lived “Don Rickles Variety Show.” Later, he went on to direct “The Merv Griffin Show” until Griffin’s retirement, and “Wheel of Fortune.” Carson stayed with the game show for more than two decades, until his own retirement.

Over the course of his career, Dick Carson earned himself 12 Daytime Emmy nominations and five awards.

Carson is survived by his wife, three children, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.