With all this talk about Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson dying, and on the same day, people seem to have forgotten the third in the series of celebrity deaths (and yes, they do happen in threes). Ed McMahon was barely mourned.
I harbor no ill will toward the man, but I never understood his place in television history. He seemed to have no discernible talent other than to be able to read cue cards with proper emphasis and without stammering.
In the mid 80s, the in-laws had a huge reunion in Pasadena, and we spent a week together doing things like watching the Cubs against the Dodgers, taking the kids to Disney Land and figuring out how to feed over 30 people three meals a day.
We also sat in the studio audience for TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes hosted by Dick Clark and Ed McMahon. We were coached to follow the applause signals, so if the hosts said something slightly funny, we knew to chuckle a little, but if they said something knee slapping, we would have to guffaw visibly in case the camera panning the audience were to record us. The thing is, we had to be told when something was funny and at what level by obeying signs held up the audience wrangler. The two hosts stood on the stage and introduced a video of a blooper or a joke, and then they would look toward a screen as if we were all going to watch the thing, but they never showed the film clips.
The director wasn't pleased with the flow of one of the readings and asked Dick and Ed to re-read it a few times, and Ed was so irritated and acted as if he were being put upon. I thought that if I had such a non-job and got paid to stand there and read a few lines and then go home, I wouldn't be so snippy about having to read the same line more than once or twice. I'd be grateful I wasn't told to get out there and get a real job and learn an actual skill.
Here is a terrible commercial for Budweiser featuring Frank Sinatra and Ed McMahon as small tribute to the forgotten deceased celebrity: