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How to Win

Ed McMahon’s Example

Ed McMahon’s life offers a lesson for anyone who wants to play on a successful team.

McMahon, who died yesterday, earned fame and fortune by becoming the model sidekick. As a foil for Johnny Carson on the “Tonight” show for many years, he showed what can happen when you accept your role and shine in it.

“Ed was the best at what he did,” said comedian Don Rickles, a frequent guest on the “Tonight” show.

Not everyone can accept a secondary role. Jealousy and discontent can tear apart a team. But people who don’t mind being role players can make all the difference on a winner.

George Burns of the comedy team Burns and Allen told the story of a turning point for the act. Originally, George was supposed to get the laughs, while Gracie Allen was supposed to be the set-up.

But then George noticed something. Every time Gracie said anything, the audience would laugh. George had a decision to make. He could either find a new partner, so he could get all the laughs, or he could stick around and be part of a successful team.

He stayed, and Burns and Allen became superstars. (One factor that went into George’s decision to stay was that he was head-over-heels in love with Gracie. They married.)


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