Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ed, This Bud's for You!

Ed McMahon: March 6, 1923 – June 23, 2009

Yes! You are correct sir.

Ed McMahon, best known as Johnny Carson's chuckling sidekick sycophant, Budweiser beer pitchman, Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes spokesman, and latter-day host of Star Search and Bloopers & Practical Jokes, died this week at age 86. With his passing, I'm gonna pay my respects by opening a can of Bud and toasting Big Ed.

"Budweiser's the best reason to drink beer!"

If you feel like reflecting on Ed's contributions to the pop cultural landcape, try these essential artifacts of the McMahon Canon:

The Incident (1967)

Ed is pretty good as a overbearing salaryman who bullies his wife but is helpless when his little girl is threatened in this stark melodrama about two thrill-seeking thugs (Martin Sheen and Tony Musante in their big screen debuts) who terrorize late-night passengers on a New York City train.

Here's Tony Musante trying to play house with Ed's daughter before soldier boy Beau Bridges intervenes:

Daughter of Horror (1957)

Ed provided the heavy-handed Ghost Host-y voiceover in this recut version of Dementia, a Beatnik Noir oddity originally released as a silent film in 1955.

Here's the original trailer:

If the midget newsboy looks familiar, it's because it's Angelo Rossitto, star of Todd Browning's Freaks (1932), in which he leads the "We accept you, one of us, gooba gabba" chant that later became associated with the Gabba-Gabba Hey punk rockers, The Ramones.

And, of course Ed's classic vocal stylings album - with liner notes by Johnny Carson!

Me, I'm Ed McMahon (Cameo-Parkway Records, 1960s)

I always liked that Ed, whose wife Pam was 33 years his junior, sang "Oh Thank Heaven for Little Girls" on this LP. Hey-yo, you dawg!

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
(RCA Camden Records, 1967)

Of course, the other great McMahon vinyl outing was his kiddie career guidance recording What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? Curiously, Sycophantic TV Sidekick is not listed as a career possibility, though "Aquanaut" (what the hell is that?) is. Once again the liner notes were provided by Johnny Carson, who wrote "I should have guessed that Ed McMahon had a special feeling for childhood. It was the only time in his life all he had to do to lose weight was take a bath." Hey-yo redux!

Ed also kept up with the times, trying his hand at rapping in this pitch for


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