January 24, 2005 2:10 PM PST

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The answer is: Boxed beef and disposable syringes.

The question, a la Carnac the Magnificent: The No. 2 and 3 industries in Norfolk, Neb., if the owner of a potential Johnny Carson shrine there has his way.

That would be Jim Pruett, who has turned to auction giant eBay in his effort to sell Johnny Carson's boyhood home for possible conversion into a Carson museum. Pruett posted an eBay listing for the property on Sunday afternoon, shortly after Carson's family announced that he had died at the age of 79.

Built in 1920, the five-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath house is listed at $93,500, a fair price in the area even without the property's connection to one of America's most popular entertainers, said Robin Jones, Pruett's agent at Dover Realtors, the local Coldwell Banker office.

"For the home itself, it's a very typical price for an older home that's been very well-maintained," Jones said. "Then you have to consider all the history that goes with it."

Pruett said he bought the house two years ago and has spent thousands of dollars and countless hours on renovations to return the 1,500-square-foot property to the condition it would have been in when Carson lived there in the 1930s and 1940s.

"It was pretty run-down when we bought it," Pruett said. "I did hundreds of hours of research just to get ready to restore it to the way it was when Johnny lived there. I think it's as close as anyone could get it."

The home is in the heart of Norfolk, otherwise known mainly for its beef industry, on the recently renamed Johnny Carson Boulevard. Carson mementos inside include a spot on the rafters where the legend-to-be carved his name.

Pruett said he's tried to sell the house a few times before, including an earlier eBay auction, but he's hoping the outpouring of fond memories following the entertainer's death will spur someone to write a check.

"I got close to a number of people buying it, but nobody ever came through," he said. "But then, I didn't have the publicity I'm getting now."

Pruett said the ideal use for the house would be as a Carson museum packed with the hundreds of items of memorabilia Carson donated to the city, now enshrined in the new Carson exhibit at the Elkhorn Valley Museum.

"It's just such a no-brainer to me," he said. "Put all that stuff he's donated into that house and turn it into a museum. It's right on the highway, on Johnny Carson Boulevard. Anyone who's interested in Johnny Carson, that's where they'd want to go."

The house is listed using eBay's "ad format," in which potential buyers don't submit bids but contact the seller directly. Pruett said Monday that he's had a lot of inquiries but no offers yet.

For those who can't afford the whole house, Pruett is also selling chunks of the original floor and wall ripped out during renovation. Buy it now for $10.

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You know, it's traditional to allow a period of mourning before you try to cash in on someone's death.
It's dumb even from an economic perspective.
Total Profit = (property value)+(outpouring of sentiment over celebrity death)-(original cost)-(renovations)-(advertisement)-(ghoulish revulsion to blatant profiteering from celebrity's death)
Posted by nealda (105 comments )
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