The ubiquitous TV emcee (his occupation: ""personality"") presents a prototypical show-biz autobiography with the...


FOR LAUGHING OUT LOUD: My Life and Good Times

The ubiquitous TV emcee (his occupation: ""personality"") presents a prototypical show-biz autobiography with the significant help of a seasoned amanuensis (All My Best Friends, with George Burns, 1989, etc.). McMahon (Here's Ed, 1976; Ed McMahon's Superselling, 1989; etc.) invented a character--a hearty, bibulous Irish salesman and straight man named Ed McMahon--and played it to the fullest. He has appeared on the small screen for an amazing half century. (Somehow, it seems longer.) Before he was a second banana, he performed as bingo caller, door-to-door vendor of pots and pans, and boardwalk pitchman. The carney talent for hokum that he perfected then has endured. The justifiable pride he earned as a marine fighter pilot has also lasted. He has always worked at his profession and now clearly enjoys his perhaps exaggerated fame. (Surely, not everyone in the world knows Ed McMahon?) The core of the book, naturally, is the 30-year gig as a very obsequious Falstaff to Carson's Prince Hal. He says that much of their repartee was unrehearsed. (Why, then, did it often seem like a slick routine?) Old gags and adventures with Carnac and Aunt Blabby are recalled. There developed a wary fellowship as the two performers went through myriad marriages. McMahon describes his three uxorious escapades and the resultant family relationships. He talks of show-biz folk with an encomium for each (there's ""the great"" Dick Clark, ""the brilliant"" Freddy de Cordova, ""the incredible"" Jonathan Winters, and ""the legendary"" Bob and Ray), and there's a persistent lunge for a one-liner at the end of each paragraph. It's all in character, like the fabled imbibing. Now, at 75, Ed has cut down to one glass of red wine a day, though he may ""cheat a little: it's still one glass, but I fill it twice."" A gregarious hustler's autobiography, pure theatrics for those who take a rousing call of ""Hi-yoooo!"" for wit.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 1998


Page Count: 368

Publisher: Warner

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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