November 5, 2009
One of the genuine treasures of Southern California is the annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses. Now in it’s 121st year, the world-famous parade will roll down Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s morning, followed by the Rose Bowl that afternoon. As part of the Bowl Championship Series, the Rose Bowl will also play host to the BCS Championship Game a week later.
Each year, the tournament organizers choose a theme for the event, followed by the selection of an individual to serve as the Grand Marshall who exemplifies the concept of the theme. The theme for the 2010 parade is “A Cut Above The Rest,” and yesterday the grand marshall was named – someone who personifies that theme about as much as you possibly could: Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of USAirways Flight 1549 who last January successfully splash-landed his Airbus in the Hudson River.
Sully’s a low-key guy who seems genuinely bemused by all the attention he’s received in the months since his famously short flight. He recently returned to flying after dealing with all the press associated with the accident, and has a book and Discovery special in the works. As far as I’m concerned, he’s earned every honor and perk that could come his way – and this is just one more.
After riding in the parade, Sully will toss the coin at the Rose Bowl, and presumably a week later at the Championship Game. He’ll be surrounded by the best that college football can produce – and they’d all be well-advised to take a moment from their own attempts to gain fame to look at a man who’s genuinely earned it.
June 23, 2009
To some, the term “sidekick” is seen as meaning someone who is less important or less valuable. It’s the guy without the looks or the power or the leadership skills – someone who’s just along for the ride, hanging on coattails. But when that sidekick is Ed McMahon, there’s no question that you’ve got the perfect partner for success.
In 1962, when Johnny Carson was tabbed to take over the “Tonight Show,” he brought along a trusted ally. Ed McMahon has been the announcer on Carson’s previous show, and for the next three decades their friendship made thousands of guest feel more comfortable on the “Tonight Show” set. Ed understood the role of the straight man, setting up Carson like a batting practice pitcher, while seldom eliciting the laughs himself. But his selfless behavior brought fame to both Carson and himself, and he became a household name. Many talk shows have tried to imitate the easy patter the two shared, but few have come close. From his trademark introduction (“Heeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!) to his sincere laughter, McMahon was one of a kind.
Ed parlayed his sidekick role to fame beyond Carson’s shadow. He served as the host of several TV shows, as well as a successful advertising pitchman. Such was the love for the man that when it was made known several years ago that he was having financial troubles and his home was at risk of foreclosure, no less than Donald Trump stepped in to provide relief. Everyone loved Ed.
Ed McMahon passed away this morning at the age of 86. He may have defined the role of the sidekick, but he’ll be long remembered as the star he truly was.