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Book: Carson's ex-wife, Frank Gifford had affair


Johnny Carson and his second wife, Joanne Copeland, who had a modest home here during his long run as headliner at the Sahara, are making headlines.

An upcoming tell-all book by Carson’s longtime attorney, Henry Bushkin, alleges “The Tonight Show” legend discovered that Copeland was having an affair with NFL legend Frank Gifford.

Bushkin claims Carson asked him to assist him in breaking into and entering Copeland’s secret New York City apartment. When Carson saw numerous framed photos of Gifford throughout the apartment, he wept, Bushkin wrote.

Carson was packing a .38 revolver in a holster on his hip, wrote Bushkin, who said they were with a private detective.

Carson’s Las Vegas home was located at 3333 Seminole Circle in the Paradise Palms neighborhood off East Desert Inn Road.

Both Joanne Copeland and Gifford’s wife, Kathie Lee, say the allegation is not true.

Copeland, 81, told The New York Post that she and Gifford never had an affair, saying they were just friends. She did acknowledge to the Post that Johnny was “jealous.”

Kathie Lee Gifford said Tuesday on a “Today” show segment, “No, it’s not true.”

Fred Glusman, owner of Piero’s Italian Cuisine, recalls a telephone conversation in the early 1960s with Copeland, who was married to Carson from 1963 to 1972.

“She called me from New York,” said Glusman, who owned a carpeting and drapery company at the time. “She wanted a piece of carpeting or draperies (for their Las Vegas residence). She talked to me for two hours on the phone to save maybe $40. The phone call cost more than that.”

After Carson moved out of the house, another icon moved in. Former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, his wife, Martha, and four of their children lived there for years.

In fact, Louis died there April 12, 1981.

“Keith Kleven, his physical therapist, was with him when he passed,” said Louis’ daughter, Candace.

A fire caused minor damage at the residence in June.

Bushkin’s book, titled “Johnny Carson,” comes out Oct. 15. Carson, host of “The Tonight Show” from 1962 to 1992, would have been 88 on Oct. 23. He died in 2005.

OCTOBER BIRTHDAYS

October birthdays of current and past Las Vegas celebrities and personalities:

Roy Horn, Oct. 3, 1944; Marie Osmond, Oct. 13, 1959; Ne-Yo, Oct. 18, 1979; N9ne steakhouse chef Barry Dakake, Oct. 20, 1970; Josh Strickland, Oct. 23, 1983, Jackie Gaughan, Oct. 24, 1920, and the late Danny Gans, Oct. 25, 1956.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Buddy V’s, the new Italian restaurant named after TLC’s “Cake Boss” star Buddy Valastro, opened this week in the former First Food space at The Palazzo. Valastro’s partners are the husband-wife team of chef Kim Canteenwalla and restaurant consultant Elizabeth Blau, who own Honey Salt in Summerlin.

SIGHTINGS

“America’s Next Top Model” creator Tyra Banks, having breakfast with a galpal and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh at Payard’s Patisserie &Bistro over the weekend. ...

Nicky Hilton celebrated her 30th birthday on Saturday at Andrea’s (Encore) and later at XS nightclub with a group that included sister Paris, Paris’ boyfriend River Viiperi and the Hiltons’ longtime friend Brandon Davis.

THE PUNCH LINE

“CBS has announced that I’m renewing my contract. Here’s what it came down to — after talking about it, my family decided they wanted to spend less time with me.” — David Letterman

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas,” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.