Ed McMahon Apologized to This Star for ‘Sophomoric’ Behavior With Johnny Carson

As sidekick to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, announcer Ed McMahon laughed along with the beloved host for 30 years. And he once felt their “sophomoric” chuckles came at the expense of an “anonymous blonde” who would eventually become a sitcom star.

What ’70s icon did McMahon say he apologized to following their earliest time on the show? And what did he and Carson do that he felt warranted an apology?

Ed McMahon sits beside Johnny Carson on 'The Tonight Show,' September 17th, 1987
(l-r) Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson | Wendy Perl/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Suzanne Somers’ chance meeting with Johnny Carson

As actor Suzanne Somers recalled to Andy Cohen for Sirius XM’s Radio Andy, the moment she met Carson changed her life. She had just auditioned for a part and was told she had a “callback,” but she told Cohen she didn’t even know what that meant then. So, she stopped and asked a network receptionist a few questions.

Confused about what to do while waiting for her next call, Somers said she asked where she should go. Seemingly bothered to be asked, the receptionist told her she could wait in the NBC commissary.

Somers made her way there, not knowing she was walking on a direct path to fame. She recalled she was the only person in the lunchroom until the famous host walked in. “Hey little lady,” she remembered him saying to her. “What are you doing here?”

She told him she’d gotten a callback for a part and was waiting. And since she didn’t have a headshot, she gave him a book of her poetry instead. Soon after, he invited her to be on The Tonight Show to share her poems with his audience.

Ed McMahon to Suzanne Somers: ‘I apologize for two grown men acting like that’

Suzanne Somers poses with a phone to her ear and glasses on her head
Suzanne Somers | Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

In McMahon’s book, Here’s Johnny, he recalled in similar fashion how Somers first came to be a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

But McMahon also added that he and Carson couldn’t contain their laughter once she read her poetry. “It was sophomoric,” McMahon wrote, “but Johnny and I spent a lot of time in the sophomore class …”

He shared that Somers later told him she “didn’t mind” their chuckling, but she “just didn’t understand it.”

“I never understand a lot of the show,” he said he replied, “but I apologize for two grown men acting like that.”

Suzanne Somers was discovered for ‘Three’s Company’ on ‘The Tonight Show’


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As Somers revealed to Cohen, she went on The Tonight Show once a month to read her poems and her book became the best-selling book of poetry in the U.S.

Though Cohen suggested Carson likely had other motives for inviting Somers on the show, adding that he supposedly liked blondes, she was somewhat dismissive of the notion. She explained that she felt Carson saw something else in her, and noted that she was eventually discovered for her role on Three’s Company while reading her poetry on the show.

In the end, there were seemingly no hard feelings. McMahon wrote in Here’s Johnny that Somers “[poured] her heart out” to Carson via letter following his quadruple bypass in 1999. She told him how much he meant to so many people in the entertainment industry, including her. And he recalled that Carson replied by sending her note back that simply read, “I’m fine. Really.”