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Gooooodbye Ed McMahon!

Venerable entertainer, Ed McMahon, best known as Johnny Carson's sidekick for 30 years on "The Tonight Show," died this morning in Los Angeles. He may be the most well known sidekick of all time and while other late-night variety shows copied the format none imitated the Carson/McMahon success. Carson's replacement Jay Leno never added a sidekick and still experienced great success.

However are we seeing a throwback to the olden days on NBC? Conan O'Brien, who took over the helm from Leno this month as "The Tonight Show's" latest host, seems to be tipping his hat to Carson and McMahon with a second banana of his own, Andy Richter.

While we wonder, below are some clips of Ed McMahon in the heyday of his career. The first exhibits the popular nightly back-and-forth banter between the sidekick and his partner. The second is one of McMahon's popular 1980's commercials when he was the spokesman for the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes.

By Lauren Wiseman  |  June 23, 2009; 10:14 AM ET
Categories:  Lauren Wiseman  
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I liked E. He and I were in the same class at Catholic U. I was disappointed that he didn't stay married to the same woman throughout his life. I wonder if there will be a funeral service in the Church. May he rest in peace.


Robert M Kraus

Posted by: rmkraus | June 23, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Ed: The answer is John Paul, Ivory, and Billy Carter. We are waiting for the question mighty Karnak?

Johny "Karnak" Carson: The question is Name a pope, a soap, and a dope?

The good old days are now gone forever.

Posted by: johnson0572 | June 23, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I think it incredible that the lead story on his death in the Washinton Post fails to expand on Mr. McMahon's broad and deep involvement in the Washington community through his friend and mentor, the late, great Gilbert Hartke. Mr. McMahon's generous financial support of father's work in the theater community at large and the scholarsips funded at CUA have left an indelible mark on the Washington theater community we benefit from today. The legions of people working in film, televison and theater today who got a "leg up" directly from Mr. McMahon or through Father Hartke is incalcuable. The roots of Mr. McMahon's true legacy are planted here in Washington and witness to that should be borne by the local paper of record. This is a story that is long overdue.

I suppose if it were yet another way to shill for the hack Sally Quinn or her spawn the full resources of the paper would be brought to bear. Tributes to those of true merit however are shallow and scant.

Posted by: SoCali | June 23, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I wrote the piece, and I am very sorry that I didn't know or write about the relationship between Ed McMahon and Gilbert Hartke, or McMahon's influence in the DC area after he graduated from CUA. Thanks for mentioning it.

Posted by: AlexRemington | June 23, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Don't feel bad, Mr Remington. I was a student at CU at the time that McMahon was . . . . in fact we were in the same class. I knew Father Harke, and I am certain that he would not be ticked off because his name was not mentioned in a story of McMahon's death. Who is SoCali?


Robert M Kraus

Posted by: rmkraus | June 23, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Not to worry Mr. Remington, I am sure you meant no harm. The local angle deserves a telling though. Ed McMahon is made to appear to be some kind of financial reprobate because of the adverse publicity he has received recently. The truth is the man probably gave more away then most will ever see. Much of his largess was dispersed anonymously and much of it was through Father Hartke. I myself was the benficiary of a scholarship to study dram at CUA funded by Ed McMahon. I would also occasionally run into him in Los Angeles and he was always warm and gracious.

McMahon and Hartke did suffer a rift after Mr. McMahon's divorce but Father would most certainly have been irked at this oversight, Mr. Krauss. He never missed an opportunity to promote CUA, Washington, the theater, and the Washington theater community. Ed McMahon, along with a few other major players like Susan Sarandon and Helen Hayes are the super novas that lit the way.

Posted by: SoCali | June 23, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

No, not PCH. The text on the screen shot plainly says "..for American Family." Paul Fahri made this same gaffe in his recent Station Break Q&A, but the WaPo obit and Tom Shales' appreciation have it "correct, Sir!" as American Family Publishers.
As McMahon's partner in the AFP campaign, when Dick Clark dies, will we see the same all over?

Posted by: Mark_CharmCity | June 25, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

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