Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Second Banana #1, Ed McMahon, is dead

June 23, 2009
Posted by Noah

For many millions of Americans, Ed McMahon is, and forever will be, Johnny Carson’s affable sidekick. He sat through decades with Carson, providing the foil for many of his best jokes and always laughing good- naturedly. For countless millions of others – myself included – McMahon was Dick Clark’s sidekick on the first of what turned out to be hundreds of TV blooper and practical joke shows. Even more, McMahon was the guy that we all prayed to see at our doors with an oversized novelty check when we bought a couple magazine subscriptions from Publisher’s Clearinghouse. In all, despite never being the top bill himself, he put together a respectable career, became a household name and got to laugh at Johnny Carson’s jokes. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

I guess, more surprising, is that his death is leading the news all over the world this morning. It’s the top story on the New York Times, Google, Yahoo, Washington Post, you name it. He was a well known person, and a fixture in late 20th Century television, but the guy was no world leader, no game changer and no beloved sage or activist. He said: “Heeeeerrrrrrreee’s Johnny!” and handed out the aforementioned over-sized novelty checks. His was a life well lived, certainly, there will be no day of mourning and no national holiday for Ed, rest his soul…

You have to understand that I feel terrible about the paragraph I wrote above, but I’ve been thinking about it all morning – I know that’s pretty sad – and wanted to get it out. My grandmother would give me such a look and a little smack for speaking this way of the dead. Then she would have made me pull my ear if I sneezed and would have lit up another Vantage. She was an awesome lady. I do, however, digress and yes! The blog today is a confessional, a mea culpa and, lastly, a chance to prove that the influence of the Good Mr. McMahon reaches even into the labyrinthine HQ of Heritage Auction Galleries from our secret undisclosed location somewhere in Dallas.

Going through the myriad lots in our auction archive at www.ha.com, the wonders of modern technology plucked an impressive sextuplet of Ed McMahon lots, and they are every bit as spectacularly unspectacular as the demi-legend himself. There are autographed photos, a very stylish suit and, the most expensive McMahon lot at $262.90, a photo display from the night he received a lifetime achievement award from Hollywood’s CENSORED Club. I’m assuming they knew Johnny would come, and that Victor Borga was playing The Trop in Atlantic City that night. (Ouch! I’m sorry Mom-Mom!)

My favorite of the six, however, are actually two lots of original comic book art from 1986. Those of you out there who know your Howard The Duck are already smiling as you recall issue #33, when Howard finally gets a break and wins the “Publisher’s Sweepstakes.” The result is that he is hanging out with Ed McMahon when an old love comes calling. Heritage sold some of this original Val Mayerik artwork. I would have been sorely tempted to buy it were I around when it came up.

Always loved Howard The Duck, even after Lucas absolutely destroyed the title, and any hope it had for surviving to be valuable to posterity (I had a lot of money riding on Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest as well…). The fact that Ed appeared in the comic, now in retrospect with his passing, seems a perfect fit. Marvel certainly wasn’t going to throw Ed McMahon in there with Spidey or Cap.

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-Noah Fleisher

1 comment:

  1. Ed McMahon is right up with Bob Barker for the most memorable voices ever possessed by a human being; he'll be missed