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The Legend We Lost: Remembering Ed McMahon

Jun 23, 2009  •  Post A Comment

 By Josef Adalian

The passing of Ed McMahon has prompted a flood of tributes to the TV icon, who’s being hailed as one of the greatest sidekicks in showbiz history.

Indeed, while McMahon had plenty of roles outside of the universe of “The Tonight Show,” almost every mention of McMahon today includes a significant evaluation of how McMahon related to Johnny Carson. The official New York Times obituary, in fact, prominently refers to a quote from McMahon explaining his deferential attitude toward Carson.

“To me, he’s the star, and I’m on the sidelines, just nudging him a bit,” McMahon said.

Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times  also makes McMahon’s sidekick status the focus of his appreciation of the legendary announcer.

“It’s easy to underestimate his accomplishment — or even to wonder whether it should be called an accomplishment at all,” Lloyd writes. “We live in a nation of aspiring quarterbacks, pitchers, lead singers and presidents, where we are told to dream big and have it all.”

And, of course, Conan O’Brien has warm words for McMahon on this evening’s “Tonight Show.” The transcript of his remarks is over at TVMoJoe.

Among the other tributes to McMahon:

Time magazine calls McMahon TV’s “first second banana.”

–A blogger for the Washington Post recalls the time she met McMahon (and, like many writers, mistakenly refers to his role in the “Publisher’s Clearinghouse ads.” Actually, McMahon worked for American Family Publishers, a rival of PCH.)

Jonathan Storm also has fond memories of Ed.

David Hinckley of the New York Daily News calls McMahon an “old-school salesman.” The News also has a nice pictorial feature on McMahon.

Entertainment Weekly brushes off a 2005 feature on McMahon. Critic Ken Tucker also looks back at the career of Johnny’s No. 2.

–The folks over at VH1’s“Best Week Ever” take a lighthearted look back at McMahon’s career as seen through various viral videos. McMahon rapping is a highlight.

 –Here’s MSNBC’s video obit of McMahon:

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World

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