Today on Glimpse.org, we are going to take a glimpse into the life of Alexis Maas, an American socialite, mostly famous for having married TV anchor Johnny Carson, former host of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Alexis Maas – Who is she?
Alexis Maas was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 15th, 1952. She is an American socialite, and the fourth and last wife of the former television star, Johnny Carson, to whom she was married for eighteen years prior to his death in 2005. Unfortunately, not a lot of information is available about her life before she married Carson.
To date, Maas has not remarried and is not known to have had any other public long-term relationships.
Alexis Maas – Education
Details regarding Alexis Maas’ degrees or level of education remain unknown.
Alexis Maas – Career
Early in her career, Alexis Maas was reportedly employed in a stock brokerage company started by Jordan Belfort, the man who inspired the 2014 movie The Wolf of Wall Street. It is believed that this was her main occupation and source of income before she married Johnny Carson in 1987.
Alexis Maas – Net Worth
Most of Alexis Maas’ reported fortune was made as a result of her marriage to Carson in the late 1980s. She is said to have accumulated a net worth of $300 million, in part thanks to the fact that she sold most of her husband’s properties (including cars and real estate) upon his death. The two main properties that were in her possession at the time were a fourteen-thousand square feet mansion in Beverly Hills and a sixteen-bedroom oceanfront house in Malibu.
It seems that following her husband’s death, a sum of around $156 million was given to his charity, the Johnny Carson Foundation, responsible for awarding charitable grants in support of people in need. It is unclear whether this sum was given to the charity by Carson himself through a trust established in his will or, as some sources report, if Alexis Maas made the donation herself after she received her inheritance.
Alexis Maas – Her relationship with Johnny Carson
Alexis Maas’ late husband, John William Carson was born on October 23rd, 1925 in Corning, Iowa. His upbringing was, reportedly, not a happy one. According to an article written by Meagan Nantwich, “he hated his mother so much” that he even went as far as to routinely calling her “Lady Macbeth”. When she passed, “he refused to even attend her funeral, simply stating after her death: ‘the wicked witch is dead.’ It seemed she was constantly critical of the late-night host, who once said, “there’s no g-d–n way to please that woman!”
As a young adult, Carson served in the US military during World War II before beginning his career as a radio show host upon his return. Today, he’s mostly known for his later television work on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson which ran for an impressive thirty years on American TV. Overtime, Carson and his team won 6 Emmy Awards, the Governor’s Award of the Television Academy in 1980, the Peabody Award in 1985 and in 1987, and even made it to the Television Hall of Fame. To date, it is known as one of the most famous talk shows in American history and, thankfully, did not end with Carson’s retirement in 1992. The Tonight Show is now famously hosted by Jimmy Fallon.
Before meeting Alexis Maas, Johnny Carson was married three times. First, in 1948 to Jody Wolcott. The couple had three children: Richard, Christopher and Cory before they got divorced in 1963. Tragically, Carson’s son, Richard, died in a car accident in 1991. Up to that point, their relationship was said to have been quite tense. Carson allegedly refused to visit his son while he was hospitalized as a result of a long-standing struggle with mental illness, and also almost got into a physical fight with him on the 25th anniversary of The Tonight Show. Upon his death however, Carson seemed remorseful and paid him an important public tribute, showing a number of his photographs on the show.
From 1963 to 1972 Johnny Carson was then married to Joanne Copeland. Through stories released by Henry Bushkin, his former attorney, after Carson’s death, it seems that their relationship was also quite tumultuous. Bushkin claims that prior to their divorce, Carson believed that Copeland had been cheating on him. As a result, the famous TV host, alongside a number of his acquaintances, aimed to break into an apartment to gather “proof” of the adultery. This bizarre series of events somehow ended up with Carson getting drunk in a bar, telling his lawyer: “I’m not surprised that Joanne did this to me […] Maybe I drove her to it, I wasn’t the best husband in the world […] I should have been more home. […] I’m a s-, I have three kids with my first wife and I don’t see any of them.”
Later on, Carson added: “I can’t quit smoking and I get drunk every night […] I’m sh—y in the marriage department. Make sure you understand this.”
While Bushkin’s decision to reveal a friend (and client)’s drunken ramblings may not have been the most elegant thing to do, especially after Carson’s death when the man could not defend himself, if the allegations are true, they do raise questions about the TV star’s behavior in his relationships. Following a clearly inevitable divorce with Copeland, Johnny Carson however quickly tied the knot again, this time with a former model named Joanna Holland in 1972. Holland later filed for divorce in 1983, which was then finalized in 1985 after two years of a tough legal battle.
On his successive marriages, Carson once declared: “My giving advice on marriage is like the captain of the Titanic giving lessons on navigation.”
Alexis Maas and Johnny Carson later met some time in the mid-1980s and dated for two years prior to getting married. They tied the knot in a private ceremony in Malibu on June 20th, 1987, surrounded by their close friends and family. The legend reads that the couple met as Alexis walked across Johnny’s home on Malibu Beach in a bikini and with an empty glass of wine in her hand. Carson allegedly offered her wine as she passed by his window.
Generally, the couple was known to enjoy a lifestyle that matched the extent of Carson’s fortune. After the both of them got married, they chose to honeymoon on the Mediterranean coast and were said to have spent over $6.5 million on entertainment alone. Whether this rumor was true or false, it did attract a number of negative press articles at the time, especially considering the twenty-six-year age difference between Johnny and Alexis. In 1992, Carson chose to retire from The Tonight Show and it seems that he and his wife then went on to spend most of their time travelling the world and enjoying moments together.
As a public personality, Carson was known to be quite shy off-camera. A close friend, Dick Cavett, once recalled: “I felt sorry for Johnny in that he was so socially uncomfortable. I’ve hardly met anybody who had as hard a time as he did.” Subsequently, a number of revelations made after Carson’s death seem to have shed some light on a particularly complex personality. He was said to be somewhat demanding and sometimes unforgiving, as well as knowingly having long-standing issues with alcohol. In 1982, Carson was arrested and for drunk driving and pleaded no contest to the charges. He was sentenced to three years of probation and made to participate in a mandatory alcohol program to address his issues. A few years prior to this incident, in 1977, Carson had already admitted in an interview he gave to 60 minutes that: “I don’t handle alcohol well, at all. No. I really don’t.”
In the 2013 book by Henry Bushkin, Carson’s former attorney also tells the story of how Carson, while on honeymoon with Maas, threw a fit in anger due to the captain of their boat being six minutes late to pick them up. Instead of writing the incident off and continuing on with their original trip, Carson held the group back, complaining for three hours, stating: “I didn’t pay $150,000 to have you late in picking us up.” Additionally, Bushkin also claims that Carson once told Alexis Maas, after she’d made a comment which he didn’t like: “We’ve been married for three weeks. If you say something like that again, this marriage won’t last another three weeks.”
The couple never had any children. A heavy smoker for most of his life, Carson sadly passed away from a respiratory failure in 2005.
Alexis Maas – What is she doing now?
Since Johnny Carson’s death, Alexis Maas has maintained a reserved and quiet life. She has made very few public appearances and has given only a couple of interviews, one of which was for the documentary film Johnny Carson: King of Late Night in 2012.