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Michael Russnow

Michael Russnow

Posted: August 15, 2008 07:01 PM

Donald Trump Bailing Out Ed McMahon: It Only Encourages More Millionaires to be Wastrels


With the news today that Donald Trump has ridden to the rescue of Ed McMahon, buying his foreclosure-headed home and leasing it back to him, I can't help wondering if this is a good thing. I previously took Mr. McMahon to task, as well as those who offered him refuge on their airwaves instead of criticizing him for bungling his blessed life.

Ed McMahon essentially had a rock solid civil service job, entertainment related of course, which like most such employment lasted more than a generation. He earned millions and millions from that thirty-year gig on The Tonight Show, serving at the grace of his benefactor Johnny Carson, and with the accompanying celebrity secured well-paying stints on Star Search and as pitchman for Publisher's Clearing House.

However, even with all the money thrown his way, his profligate spending style and assorted alimony payments put him in the financial position he is in today. He should be condemned, not pitied, and not catered to by an admitted non-acquaintance such as Trump, who said he felt sorry for the guy he'd grown up watching on TV.

If Donald Trump is so concerned about the woes of his fellow man or woman, why stick only to those whose names he recognizes? There are many of us who actually work in various capacities to maintain a decent living when our dreams go unfulfilled. Hey, I'll take a grant so that I don't have to work to pay my bills. Or perhaps he might finance a cheap theatrical run of my stage play or put in a million or so for a modest indie film of my screenplay, either of which might might provide a better return for his investment than the message he gives forth that millionaires who are wasteful need never worry if they can go on Larry King.

And if he doesn't want to invest in my career, how about helping ten or twenty honest, hard working folks who've lost their ordinary jobs and are on the verge of losing their inexpensive homes? True, he doesn't know these people, but are they unworthy because he's never wanted their autograph?

And if Trump responds that he gives to various charities anonymously, why didn't he do the same for Ed McMahon? Though I don't think he should have helped the man at all, he could have had a shell company purchase the property without any fanfare at all. Truth be told, if he had to do anything, he should have moved McMahon from his six bedroom five bathroom home worth $4.6 million (purchased in 1990 for $2.6 million) into a respectable two or three bedroom condominium in the Melrose Area instead of giving him the ultimate handout, one he in no way deserves. And if McMahon didn't accept, being too "proud" a man, that would have been just too damned bad.

There's no reason to feel sorry for Ed McMahon. He's not Albert Schweitzer, who'd just been evicted from his small home by a possibly dictatorial African government. Ed McMahon is a very lucky man who screwed up his own life and need not continue to bother the rest of us who have our own problems and are working them out without the misplaced and very public generosity of Donald Trump.