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Friday, 20 September, 2002, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
TV star Carson has emphysema
Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson hosted the Tonight Show for 30 years
American TV star Johnny Carson is said to be "in great shape" despite having been diagnosed with the respiratory disease emphysema.

A spokesman for the legendary former host of the Tonight Show, denied US tabloid reports that Carson was in a serious condition and had become a virtual recluse.

Jeff Sotzing, who runs the Carson Entertainment video production company, said the comedian had just finished a game of tennis when he heard about the story in the National Enquirer.

"He does have emphysema but he's dealing with it the best he can and it's not causing him any major problems," Mr Sotzing said.

Mr Sotzing added that Carson had played tennis at lease twice last week. He did not give any further details of the TV star's condition.

Incurable

Carson retired from NBC's entertainment programme the Tonight Show in 1992 after 30 years as one of the most popular TV personalities in the US.

For many of those years, Carson smoked while the programme was on air. Emphysema is often associated with the effects of smoking.

The condition's most obvious symptom is shortness of breath. It is incurable but its progression can be slowed if caught early.

Carson has kept a pretty low public profile since leaving the Tonight Show. He underwent a quadruple heart bypass three years ago.

In an interview with Esquire magazine earlier this year, Carson said he was content to be out of the public eye, living in Malibu with his wife Alexis.

See also:

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