Heritage Galleries & Auctioneers (www.heritagegalleries.com) of Dallas, Texas, sold Johnny Carson’s Shure SM33 Ribbon Microphone at auction recently for $50,787.50. The microphone was originally presented to Carson from Shure in the 1970s with the inscription, “Johnny’s Mic… Not Ed’s… Not Fred’s.”
“I was always amused by the engraving on the mic,” recalls Michael Pettersen, director of applications engineering for Shure, who visited the Tonight Show set on several occasions in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “This inscription meant that Shure gave the mic specifically to Johnny Carson, to be used by Carson on his desk. Shure was proud to give this mic to Carson, and to have a longstanding association with the ‘King of Late Night Comedy.’”
The Shure SM33, which is no longer in production, was rescued by former crewmember Stanley Sweeney in the mid-’80s, when he and the rest of the Tonight Show crew were instructed to give the studio a complete technical upgrade.
“Of the two SM33s I know of that were used on the show, a non-descript one was stored and the other one with the distinctive etching was used on a daily basis,” declares Sweeney. “It was and still is a working, useable microphone. It was never considered a prop!”
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