Ed McMahon played many roles as a spokesman and announcer in a show biz career that spanned more than 60 years. McMahon, who died yesterday, was best known as the sidekick for Johnny Carson for more than 30 years on The Tonight Show. His trade mark “Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny” has not been forgotten and probably never will thanks to Jack Nicholson borrowing the phrase for his character in The Shinning.
But as I have done so often for writers, I’d like to show McMahon’s roots and what prepared him for the work that would make him a house hold name.
He was born in Detroit Michigan and raised in Michigan, New Jersey, New York City and Lowel, Massachusetts and began his career as a bingo caller in Maine when he was just 15. I’d put him in the camp of “Dream big, start small.”
McMahon was also a carnival barker, a pitchman for vegetable slicers, and worked in radio before working his way up to a TV game show emcee. He was also a decorated pilot in the Marines who also served in Korea and was a late night TV host in Philadelphia. An eclectic background that prepared him for meeting Johnny Carson in 1959 when he would have been 36-years-old.
He never stopped being a pitchman and along the way he also appeared in movies and TV shows along with his work on Star Search, TV Bloopers and Practical Jokes and with the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon’s. I thought it would be good to find a quote from McMahon that would provide a little inspiration for life’s journey.
”Honesty is the single most important factor having a direct bearing on the final success of an individual, corporation, or product.“