Example: [Collected via e-mail, June 2009]
Origins: It's hard to think of late-night talk show king Johnny Carson without also thinking of Ed McMahon, the tall, genial announcer with the booming voice who served as Carson's sidekick throughout Johnny's thirty-year tenure as host of the Tonight Show from
The rumor does have certain elements of plausibility to it: there was some chronological overlap in McMahon and Carson's military service during World
As noted at Military.com, 17-year-old Johnny Carson enlisted in the
Commissioned an ensign late in the war, Carson was assigned to the USS Pennsylvania, a battleship on station in the Pacific. He was
The Pennsylvania was torpedoed on August 12, 1945 and Carson reported for duty on the
He later served as a communications officer in charge of decoding encrypted messages.
His first classes were in a civilian run program in Texarkana, TX where he learned to fly a Piper Cub airplane. These were followed by further training in Denton, Texas, and a three-month pre-flight school at the University of Georgia-Athens. After primary flight training at Dallas, McMahon was sent to the Pensacola Naval Air
His first active duty station was at Lee Field at Green Cove Springs, Fla., where he was assigned to the Corsair Operational Training Unit learning to fly the gull-winged F4U Corsair fighter. Because McMahon was so proficient at taking off and landing on aircraft carriers, he was kept on as an instructor pilot, despite his desire to get into combat.
In August 1945, McMahon finally was ordered to the West Coast assigned to a Marine carrier unit, but the dropping of the atomic bombs resulted in a change of orders, and he was sent instead to a Marine Air Group as part of Marine Fighter Squadron 911 at the Marine auxiliary airfield at Kingston, N.C. McMahon instructed and flight-tested Corsairs and F7F Wildcats until his discharge from active duty in February 1946.
[McMahon remained in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and was recalled to active duty during the Korean War, eventually flying
"Johnny didn't look as if he was dying to see me," McMahon, who was hosting a show on a Philadelphia TV station, told People magazine in 1980 about the pair's first meeting. "He was standing with his back to the door, staring at a couple of workmen putting letters on a theater marquee. I walked over and stood beside him. Finally the two guys finished, and Johnny asked, 'What have you been doing?' I told him. He said, 'Good to meet you, Ed,' shook my hand, and I was out of the office. The whole meeting was about as exciting as watching a traffic light change."
Last updated: 24 June 2009
Baron, Scott.   "Ed McMahon — Heeeeeeere's Johnny!" G.I. Jobs. February 2008. Bawden, Jim.   "The Role of Second Banana Appeals to Ed." Toronto Star. 27 October 2006. Leopold, Todd.   "Ed McMahon Dies at 86." CNN. 23 June 2009. Shettle Jr., M.L.   "Ed McMahon: Marine Corps Aviator." The California State Military Museum. (militarymuseum.org). Steelman, Ben.   "'Blooper' Reunites Marine Couple." Wilmington Morning Star. 13 July 1985 (p. E1).