Meet Late Host Johnny Carson’s Fourth Wife Alexis Maas

Johnny Carson, the renowned late TV host of "The Tonight Show," was married four times through his 79 years alive. His last wife, Alexis Maas, was twenty-six years his junior, but they were together until Carson's passing in 2005.

Fourteen years after Johnny Carson’s passing, the former TV host is still considered one of the most iconic figures in television history.

Publicity photo of Johnny Carson from the television program "The Tonight Show" | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images

Publicity photo of Johnny Carson from the television program "The Tonight Show" | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images

His hosting style on “The Tonight Show” set the tone for many other late-night show hosts, and he’s often remembered as a warm and funny man that seemed to share a lot on TV, but that, in reality, was a very private person.

Johnny’s turbulent love life

Carson made sure to keep most of his personal life away from the media and fans, sharing only what he deemed necessary and when it was required.

However, his love life became the object of headlines on many occasions, mainly because he had three failed marriages and an alleged string of love affairs.

Johnny Carson in 1957 | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images

Johnny Carson in 1957 | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images

Carson married his first wife, Jody Wolcott, in 1948. They had three kids: Christopher, Cory, and Richard, who died on June 21, 1991, after being involved in a car accident.

Carson remained single, at least in the eyes of the media, for the following four years. However, he had been secretly dating Alexis Maas.

Although Wolcott was Carson’s first love, their relationship was filled with abuse and infidelity. She asked for a divorce in 1959, and although Carson didn’t take it well, he moved out and put his lawyers to work.

Photo of Johnny Carson reading a story with his three sons in 1955 | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images

Photo of Johnny Carson reading a story with his three sons in 1955 | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images

The divorce proceedings were finished in 1963, and that same year, Carson married his second wife: Joanne Copeland.

They were an exemplary couple to outsiders, but friends knew there were many arguments in the marriage, as both Carson and Copeland were stubborn and had strong characters.

After a few years, Copeland grew tired of the celebrity wife lifestyle, and they divorced in 1972.

 Johnny Carson (1925 - 2005) and his second wife Joanne Copeland, mid 1960s | Photo: GettyImages

Johnny Carson (1925 - 2005) and his second wife Joanne Copeland, mid 1960s | Photo: GettyImages

“I was living this ivory tower lifestyle that’s not really me,” Copeland told Larry King on a 2007 interview.

“I loved Johnny,” she added. “But I really needed to go home. I needed to come back to California.”

Two surprise weddings

In September 1972, Carson announced at the Tonight Show's 10th-anniversary party that he had secretly married model Joanna Holland that same afternoon.

They were together for 11 years before Holland filed for divorce in 1983. Holland received a settlement of $20 million in cash and property.

Johnny Carson, star of NBC's 'Tonight' show, December 1964 | Photo: GettyImages

Johnny Carson, star of NBC's 'Tonight' show, December 1964 | Photo: GettyImages

Years after Carson’s death, his former lawyer and confidant, Henry Bushkin, published a book with stories from Carson’s dark side, which painted the picture of a stubborn, selfish, and cruel man.

Carson remained single, at least in the eyes of the media, for the following four years. However, he had been dating Alexis Maas, whom he met on the beach near his Malibu home.

The couple tied the knot in 1987 at Carson's home, in a ceremony officiated by Judge William Hogaboom, and with Carson’s brother Dick as the only witness.

Johnny Carson And Wife Alexis Maas, 1990 | Photo: GettyImages

Johnny Carson And Wife Alexis Maas, 1990 | Photo: GettyImages

Carson’s spokesman at the time, Jim Mahoney, confirmed the news and revealed that Carson and Maas were honeymooning in Europe while attending the Wimbledon tennis championship.

More about Maas and Carson’s marriage

According to reports, Alexis Maas was a native from Pittsburgh and former stock brokerage employee. Her marriage to Carson was her first, and at the time of their union, she was 35, and he was 61.

Despite the age difference, the couple was together for 18 years until Carson’s passing in 2005. But their journey was not a smooth one.

Johnny Carson and Alex Maas attending the American Film Institute Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, California, March 6th 1986 | Photo: GettyImages

Johnny Carson and Alex Maas attending the American Film Institute Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, California, March 6th 1986 | Photo: GettyImages

Years after Carson’s death, his former lawyer and confidant, Henry Bushkin, published a book with stories from Carson’s dark side, which painted the picture of a stubborn, selfish, and cruel man.

Nothing like the Johnny Carson the audience loved.

Among those stories, Bushkin recalled one from Carson and Maas’ honeymoon in Italy, where he met the couple with his then-girlfriend Mary Hart for a yacht trip.

Johnny Carson and wife Alexis Leave Spago Restaurant After Dinner, August 11 1994 | Photo: GettyImages

Johnny Carson and wife Alexis Leave Spago Restaurant After Dinner, August 11 1994 | Photo: GettyImages

Carson apparently found irritating a comment that his new bride made on the trip, and he reprimanded her in front of their friends saying:

“We’ve been married for three weeks. If you say something like that again, this marriage won’t last another three weeks.”

Carson also made the trip difficult when he got mad because their yacht captain was 6 minutes late to pick them up at the dock. And although the man profusely apologized, Carson kept fuming for three more hours.

“I didn’t pay $150,000 to have you late in picking me up. We will be leaving the boat tomorrow,” he reportedly said.

Johnny Carson at the American Teacher Awards December 6, 1992 | Photo: GettyImages

Johnny Carson at the American Teacher Awards December 6, 1992 | Photo: GettyImages

Carson, who had been a heavy smoker for decades, died of respiratory failure on January 23, 2005.

His ashes were given to Maas, now his widow, who also received half of Carson’s fortune. The other half was donated to The Johnny Carson Foundation.

These days, Alexis Maas keeps herself out of the spotlight, and there’s no information on her whereabouts.

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