Nonprofit Newswire | Smoking Gun Reports Johnny Carson Leaves Huge Charitable Legacy

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August 9, 2010; Source: Smoking Gun | Five and a half years after his death, Johnny Carson is back in the headlines. And this time it’s not for cracking wise, but for being extremely generous. The Smoking Gun website reviewed copies of the most recent IRS returns from the John W. Carson Foundation, which reveal that it received $156 million from a personal trust the celebrity talk show host established several years before he died. The money transferred to the foundation in its fiscal year 2008, which ended last June, makes Carson’s the largest of all Hollywood charities. For example, a foundation run by one of the founders of DreamWorks Studio, David Geffen, reported assets of $80 million for its most recent tax return. This latest transfer from Carson’s trust dwarfs previous gifts to the foundation while he was alive and in the years before his death. Those earlier amounts were between $1 million and $2 million. During his lifetime, Carson was very private in his philanthropic giving to environmental groups, AIDS organizations, children’s charities and schools, as well as to nonprofits in his home state of Nebraska. Smoking Gun reports that the Carson Foundation’s 2008 tax return showed it made donations totaling $3 million, along with $5.7 million earmarked for future payments.—Bruce Trachtenberg