That's right, eighty-five combat missions. He trained fighter pilots in World War Two and then flew spotter aircraft over the front lines of Korea. He retired as a Colonel before being commissioned as a Brigadier General in the California Air National Guard; Yet another reason to appreciate the man.
I came hoping to get a few showbiz anecdotes, and he didn't disappoint. His eyes light up as he describes parties at Cary Grant's house, or the first time he worked with Johnny Carson, on a 1950's game show called "Who Do You Trust."
"We're in the Little Theater on 44th Street and Broadway, just right next to Sardi's Restaurant, which happened to be a nice place to be next to. Now I'm a little nervous. I'm standing here, Johnny Carson's over there. And I've got a script with all the sponsors' names. 'Swanson cake mixes, a cake mix you can trust!'" he says in that trademark announcer voice. "Okay, here I am. I've got six of those, right? You start out, you know, 'Welcome to Who Do You Trust starring Johnny Carson! Brought to you by...' and you're doing your routine, right? I'm halfway down the list of things. No one can see me at home but the audience in the theater can. (Johnny) comes over and sets fire to the script. It was the first day we worked together. That will, that will tell you where you're heading for the next 34 years."
"Thank you, Ed," I tell him. "I can't tell you how much I appreciate you. All those nights when I begged to stay up late to watch you and Mr.. Carson. And I can't tell you how much I appreciate your kindness to me as a waiter at the Polo Room." He smiles. "It takes a lot more time to NOT be nice than to be nice," he says. "It's so easy and it's wonderful and it brought us together."
Words to live by, America. Now get out there and tip 20 percent.