Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Remembering a First-Rate Second-Banana ...

I can't even begin to count the number of times my late night included a "heeeerrre's Johnny!" Now comes news that the man who delivered that intro - and the promise of a funny and entertaining evening - has passed away.

"LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - Ed McMahon, the loyal Tonight Show sidekick who bolstered boss Johnny Carson with guffaws and a resounding “H-e-e-e-e-e-ere’s Johnny!” for 30 years, died early Tuesday. He was 86."
CLICK HERE for the rest of the story from the Associated Press and msnbc.com, which includes video and a slide show about McMahon and his career.

One way we can date ourselves is who we cite when comparing 'Tonight Show' hosts, youngsters compare Conan O'Brien to Jay Leno, while oldster compare them all to Jack Paar. Those of us in-between, compare them to Johnny Carson. With a style honed during his youthful days as a carnival hawker, McMahon took the job as 'second banana' to Carson, a man he once described as "one of the brightest, most well-read men I’ve ever met ... and the funniest ...”

That, coupled with his annual appearances backing-up Jerry Lewis on the MDA Labor Day Telethon, and his MANY appearances with Dick Clark on those Publisher's Clearinghouse ads, made him a household name and pop culture icon ... for example, one of the most frequently-repeated lines from "The Shining" is Jack Nicholson's lunatic spins on McMahon's trademark intro from "The Tonight Show."

Sadly, health and financial problems made McMahon's last few years fodder for the supermarket tabloids ... but those are easily dismissed, and quickly forgotten.

Me, I'll stick with the man at Carson's side, 'back in the day' ... he was great!

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