An August 1964 episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson has been recovered and restored by DC Video. The company specializes in preserving obsolete videotapes formats. Recovered were the opening, monologue and first hour of the episode–which may have aired on August 24th, 1964. If so, it may be the earliest surviving color videotape of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
DC Video uploaded the opening and monologue to YouTube, which I’ve embedded below:
The exact date the episode aired is unclear. From the YouTube description:
Note that Johnny Carson talks about it being Friday, presumably the Friday before the Monday in which this tape played. This Two-Inch Quad Videotape had no labels, color bars, tone or slate. But it did have a portion of the local newscast before the show which mentions that evening’s baseball scores. From that information it was determined to be an air date of 8-24-64.
Previously, the oldest known color videotape from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was an excerpt from the September 1st, 1964 episode featuring musician Stan Zabka (also restored by DC Video).