You know, sometimes it's OK to be number two -- to be best known for being second banana.

Because your fans miss you just the same when you're gone. And now, as you’ve heard, Ed McMahon is gone. TV’s top second banana has left the stage.

Ed McMahon not only built a career on it, he leveraged his 30 years laughing at Johnny Carson’s jokes to become a brand in his own right, because of it.

McMahon proved a force of nature, ultimately hosting or co-hosting plenty of hits of his own, including "TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes" and a show some call the precursor to "American Idol" -- "Star Search" -- where this straight man for Johnny soon became the man for launching stars when they were just kids: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and a guy named Justin Timberlake.

Ed made them. None forgot him.

That's how much they thought of him. A man whose very name proved a bonanza for Budweiser and his face, a marketing home run for "American Family Publishers' Sweepstakes."

A very frequent guest on my show, McMahon would always insist he was a lucky guy and he was just riding the luck. And more often than not, just riding the memories of those times with Johnny that had become immortal:


(OCT. 17, 2007)

ED MCMAHON: And I go way back to when then-to-be President Nixon was on...

CAVUTO: That’s right.

MCMAHON: And Johnny had a big thing about, you know, his beard – you know, the whole thing with the Kennedy debate and he didn’t look that good, and so forth. And he said –- Johnny said – “What are you going to do about the next debate?” He said, you know, “I’m going to borrow your makeup man.” And as a matter of fact he did. He took the makeup man and took him on the road with him.

CAVUTO: But a lot of politicians have sort of re-presented themselves, if you will. I know Bill Clinton did that after that ’88 debacle at the Convention where his speech went on and on. Johnny kidded him about that later on and he kind of was on the way.

MCMAHON: Well, you know, he had an hourglass.

CAVUTO: That’s right. That’s right. Very funny.

MCMAHON: And, you know, you have so much to speak – but his introduction… Johnny’s introduction lasted five minutes before he ever came out.

But it's now a standard thing. They must include that as part of the campaign trail. You’ve got to go on these late night talk shows.


And now I like to think Ed's making them laugh in a bigger place. A better place. A place like no other.

Watch Neil Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. ET on "Your World with Cavuto" and send your comments to cavuto@foxnews.com