With the passing of Ed McMahon, the book on a TV legacy is, sadly, closed forever.
Arguably the greatest emcee of all time, Ed – who served as Johnny Carson‘s Tonight Show announcer from 1962 to 1992 – died yesterday morning in Los Angeles, surrounded by his family.
Though his publicist, Howard Bragman, gave no cause of death, he said the 86-year-old media icon had a “multitude of health problems the last few months.”
But it wasn’t long ago that Ed had us captivated with tales of his seven decades on television.
Appearing on The Andrea Shea King Show in November 2007, he recalled his first-ever job in the medium.
“In 1949, I started in Philadelphia, on a show called Take 10,” he told host Andrea Shea King.
“I was the host of a three-hour, daily, live variety show. I was the producer, I was the makeup man, I swept up the studio – whatever you had to do.
“I was on the air from 12 to three, and I was the happiest man in North America.”
Later in the show, Ed recounted working with Johnny (who died in 2005 at age 79) for the first time ever.
“I did a show with him called Who Do You Trust, on ABC. It was a quiz show in the afternoon, and it was live.
“[Johnny] hosted it and he had another announ- cer, named Bill Nimmo, who then got his own show.
“And I came up and auditioned for the show and I got the job, which was a lucky happenstance.
“On the very first show – here I am a little nervous, you can imagine; I’m relacing somebody, I want to do a good job, and I’ve got a script in front of me, and on the script it’s got the six responses of the day, plus [a commercial]: ‘Swan’s Down Cake Mixes, the mixes you can trust.’
“And I have to read this. Now, the audience at home doesn’t see me, of course. But the audience in the theater does.
“Johnny comes over and sets fire to my script. That’s the very first day I ever worked with him.
“That kind of sealed our 47 years of friendship. When he set fire to my script, I knew we were off and running.”
To hear Ed’s full interview, in which he also discusses his days in the U.S Marine Corps – where he first met Johnny – click here.