Brooke Shields recalls“Tonight Show ”falling prank that went very wrong: 'I am screwed'

Brooke Shields recalls“Tonight Show ”falling prank that went very wrong: 'I am screwed'

The actress attempted to "surprise" host Johnny Carson by pretending to tumble, only for him to think it was real.

Brooke Shields is remembering the time a silly prank she pulled on The Tonight Show suddenly became very real.

While visiting the late-night show on Friday, the actress recalled her 1981 appearance on it and how she attempted to surprise then-host Johnny Carson by pretending to trip and fall once reaching the stage. The only problem? Carson, the entire camera crew, and the audience weren’t in on the joke.

“My mom thought it would be a good idea if, as a surprise to Johnny, I did Carnac, which was a pratfall,” Shields explained on Friday’s episode, referring to Carson’s recurring character Carnac the Magnificent, who would often trip on the stairs and smash through his desk. “So my mom said, ‘Let’s do that for Johnny, and let’s do it as a surprise.’”

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<p>Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty</p> Brooke Shields on 'The Tonight Show'

Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty

Brooke Shields on 'The Tonight Show'

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The mother-daughter duo didn’t tell “any of the camera operators” or Carson about their prank. They did, however, let one of her funny fellow guest stars that evening in on the secret.

Tommy Smothers comes by, and he comes in and he sticks his head in [and] he goes, ‘Hey, Brooke!’ And I’m like, ‘Hey Tommy, I’ve got a surprise for you. I’m doing something on the show,’” Shields said. “Thank God I said that, because I come out in a very grand way, kick the top step purposefully, go crashing onto the floor [near] the table.”

Once she had plummeted to the ground and the camera had "missed" her entirely, Shields realized that she was the only one in on the gag. 

“I dropped completely out of the frame — and had they been prepared, they would have panned down, obviously, but I just drop out of it and, of course, everybody thinks it’s real. And now they feel terrible for me,” she said. “There’s this picture of Johnny reaching over the desk to try and help me and his cuffs are all the way out of his jacket, and I’m on the ground going, ‘They don’t think this is a pratfall. They think this is real. I am screwed.’”

The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon then played the clip of Shields’ slip, which begins with her happily walking out from behind the studio's curtain before tripping and falling. Carson can be seen leaping out of his seat to catch her, while Smothers reaches out a hand and lifts her back up. 

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“Are you okay? I thought you were doing Carnac for a moment,” Carson says in the clip, to which Shields responds, “I was!”

Carson adds, “I said, ‘That’s one of the funniest entrances I’ve ever seen.’”

When the clip ended, Shields revealed how Smothers was instrumental in helping her save face during her interview. “Thank God Tommy, on air, said, ‘Was that the surprise?’” she said. “He totally supported me so that they actually believed it was planned.”

Watch Shields recall falling for Johnny in the clip above.

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