It's so ironic that I was just watching that corny "Cash4Gold" commercial come on again just the other day. I remember the first time seeing it thinking that it may be the one of the last images we have of McMahon and wouldn't that be a terrible way to be remembered. Too bad he never got a chance to give us another one after that.
Former Johnny Carson sidekick Ed McMahon passed away peacefully at the UCLA Medical Center shortly after midnight today. He was 86-years-old.
It is a little surprising because I didn't realize he was that sick. They had publicized that he had a neck injury a while back, but that definitely didn't seem to be life-threatening. Even the official statement only provides the information that he had "multiple health issues". Apparently they were more serious than any of us normal folks had thought.
I was never a big fan of "The Tonight Show", but back in the day of only four networks to choose from it was rather difficult to not be familiar with Ed's work. On the days that I was allowed to stay up that late, I would tune in hoping to catch an appearance by a younger Eddie Murphy or any other face I recognized. That show was my first exposure to McMahon.
What I noticed doesn't get mentioned much anymore is what he was even more famous for in the 80s. As the host of "Star Search", he re-invented himself to a new generation. The talent show gave us some future stars of today like Justin Timberlake, Sinbad (yes...I said Sinbad) and even Destiny's Child. All of them introduced by McMahon. He had taken his role as an introduction artist to a new level.
I always found it surprising that he outlived Carson. No clue what their age difference was, but Johnny just seemed to be the healthier of the two. Maybe now they can be reunited and have guests by the likes of George Burns and Richard Pryor on their couch again.
Rest in peace, Ed.