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Published:June 23rd, 2009 13:18 EST
A Salute To Ed McMahon: King Of The Second Bananas

A Salute To Ed McMahon: King Of The Second Bananas

By Robert Paul Reyes

"Although he did other things in his 86 years, Ed McMahon, who died Tuesday in Los Angeles, will be remembered mostly as the man who sat next to Johnny Carson, except when more important celebrities came between them.

Notwithstanding the dozen years of hosting `Star Search,` a role in the 1997 Tom Arnold sitcom `The Tom Show,` a high-profile Cash4Gold ad during the last Super Bowl and all that knocking on people`s doors in the name of the Publishers Clearing House, McMahon was a professional sidekick, a less-than-equal partner in an enterprise of which he was nevertheless a vital part: Thinking of Johnny, one proceeds quickly and naturally to Ed, who by dint of association was almost as famous as his boss -- I say `almost` to include that fraction of the world that may have seen or heard of Carson but never watched his show."

LA Times/ Robert Lloyd

Everybody wants to rule the world, and everybody wants to be the boss. But most of us will never be the top banana at work, or even at home.

When we are children we dream of being an astronaut, the President of the United States, or an NFL quarterback. Our fantasies die a slow death, and we gradually accept our lot in life: Assistant manager at a shoe factory, 2nd Vice-President of Loans at the bank, or lead person at a textile mill.

Only a select few of us will be a Johnny Carson, most of us will be a Doc Severinsen, a Tommy Newsom, or if we have a bit of luck an Ed McMahon. Being King of the second bananas is not such a bad gig, McMahon parlayed his Tonight Show success into a very successful Hollywood career.

Ed McMahon was an inspiration to all of us average Joe`s. Ed wasn`t particularly handsome or exceptionally talented, nevertheless he achieved great success playing second fiddle to Johnny Carson.

I`ve held several supervisory positions, but I`ve never been "the boss". I`ve never envied the top dog, or given in to depression because I failed to reach the loftiest heights of my profession.

Ed McMahon is best remembered for the way he introduced Johnny Carson at the beginning of each show: Heeere`s Johnny! That was McMahon`s primary gig: Calling attention not to himself, but to his friend and boss Johnny Carson.

McMahon deserves praise for being content to be a second banana, and for raising above his meager talent. But McMahon also deserves criticism for becoming a shill for every company under the sun. After his glory days with Carson, McMahon made many commercials for dubious products.

It`s Ok to be a second banana (that`s the best most of us can hope for), but we shouldn`t be subservient, and we shouldn`t compromise our integrity.

But today McMahon is the top banana, I`m sure that St. Peter welcomed him inside the Pearly Gates with a robust: Here`s Ed McMahon.