02/02/2005 AT 8:00 AM ET
A major slice of TV history is hitting the eBay auction block: guest books signed by stars from Johnny Carson’s Tonight show.
The three books , which date from 1963-65 (Carson, who died Jan. 23, started as host in 1962), contain the autographs of such stars as Paul Newman, comic Groucho Marx, author William Saroyan and golfer Arnold Palmer, reports the Associated Press.
Adding to the pedigree of the books is that in 1967 they were tossed in the trash during a cleaning out of NBC-studio closet space – though they were rescued by the show’s unit manager, Jules North, whose son, Steve North, is now in possession of them. Some of the signatures are also accompanied by drawings.
When he was young, Steve North says, he collected his own autographs backstage where his dad worked. “I was only 14 years old and Carson was not yet a legend, but even then I knew that we had rescued a treasure from the trash,” said North, a TV news producer.
The auction ends Sunday. Meanwhile, Carson spun ratings gold for David Letterman, who paid tribute to his mentor on Monday night’s Late Show. The CBS host earned his highest-rated show in almost two years: a 6.0 household rating/15 share, according to preliminary data released by Nielsen Media Research.