1. Johnny Carson
If David Letterman had voted in this poll, he would have opted for Johnny Carson. The comedian took over The Tonight Show for Jack Paar in 1962 and stuck around for three decades. During the first 18 years, the show ran for 90 minutes. That's an absurd amount of television to churn out every single week, but somehow Johnny made it work. Unlike previous Tonight Show hosts, Carson didn't see the role as a stepping stone to something higher. He realized the show itself was the ultimate prize for any TV personality, and he used the platform to give everyone from Roseanne Barr to Garry Shandling to Joan Rivers a national audience. Carson has been off the air for 23 years, but The Tonight Show remains the most valuable real estate in late night television due to his legacy.