The Times reported this morning that about 1 in 11 people with mortgages face loan problems, a striking yet altogether faceless statistic. Leave it to Ed McMahon, the jovial sidekick to the late Johnny Carson and host of “Star Search,” to humanize the story.
How does a millionaire end up face-to-face with a foreclosure on his Mulholland Drive mansion? His answer, on ‘’Larry King Live” last night, was a familiar one to many Americans — a “perfect storm” of health setbacks, accumulating bills and a generally bleak economy:
‘’If you spend more money than you make, you know what happens,’’ McMahon said […] ‘’You know, a couple of divorces thrown in, a few things like that. And, you know, things happen.’’
A neck injury has prevented him from working for the past 18 months. ‘’It’s embarrassing to say the least,” his wife Pamela added, “and it’s sad, because you know, Ed’s worked his whole entire life.’’
Sad but true for the McMahons and many other families in California, which is one of the states being hit especially hard by falling house prices and constricted credit. From today’s New York Times:
California and Florida, for instance, accounted for nearly a third of all mortgages that were in foreclosure or 90 days delinquent. Home prices, construction and mortgage lending were particularly ebullient in those states earlier this decade. The housing industry accounted for a bigger portion of their economies during the boom.
“The problems in California and Florida are extraordinary, and they are the main drivers of the national trend,” said Jay Brinkmann, vice president for research and economics at the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Despite the troubles, Mr. McMahon wasn’t ready to give up quite yet. “I’m optimistic,” he said. He has the house on the market, asking $6.25 million, and his agent reports “very fruitful discussions” with the bank to avoid a foreclosure.
Ed McMahon, the jocular sidekick to Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," returned to television Thursday to discuss a somber personal matter — the looming foreclosure of his Beverly Hills house.
Appearing on CNN’s "Larry King Live," McMahon, 85, began his interview with the throaty chuckle that had been his trademark on Carson’s show. Asked what happened, he quipped, "How much time do you have?"
McMahon, in a neck brace, said he had been unable to work since he broke his neck 18 months ago, but he declined to say how the injury occurred.
"If you spend more money than you make, you know what happens," he said. "A couple of divorces thrown in, a few things like that."
McMahon’s lender, Calabasas-based Countrywide Financial Corp., filed a notice of default in March on $4.8 million in mortgage loans, public records show. If McMahon does not make some arrangement, the six-bedroom, five-bath house in a gated hilltop community will be sold at auction.
McMahon said his house had been on the market for two years with no offers, but since news of the foreclosure broke Tuesday, "now there’s tons of interest." His real estate agent has said the estate is listed at $6.25 million.
Asked why a multimillionaire could not make his house payments, McMahon’s wife, Pamela, said, "Over the years, it’s a combination of maybe Ed working so hard and not looking at proper management. We didn’t keep our eye on the ball. We made mistakes."
She added: "It’s scary. I never owned a home before in my life before I met Ed."
King replied: "I don’t think you’ll own one again."
McMahon isn’t the only celebrity to default on loans in the plunging real estate market. On Thursday, a legal notice disclosed that former boxing champ Evander Holyfield’s Fairburn, Ga., estate will be auctioned July 1 to pay off the mortgage.
(CNN) — The nation’s foreclosure crisis threatened a high-profile victim this week: TV legend Ed McMahon, best known as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on "The Tonight Show."
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that McMahon was $644,000 in arrears on a $4.8 million loan for a home in Beverly Hills, California, and his lender had filed a notice of default.
McMahon and his wife, Pam, appeared on CNN’s "Larry King Live" on Thursday night to talk about their financial woes and other topics.
Larry King: What did happen, Ed?
Ed McMahon: It’s a combination, it’s like a perfect storm. Economy problems. Selling the house right now is a tremendous operation …. We’ve had this house on the market for two years. We’ve shown it, I don’t know how many, 50 organizations or people. Nobody has made an offer. I mean, it’s just a lovely home. I hate to leave it. I want to keep the home. I want this all to work out.
King: And the payments, you can’t make — what’s the problem?
Ed McMahon: Well, if you spend more money than you make, you know what happens. And it can happen. You know, a couple of divorces thrown in, a few things like that. And, you know, things happen. You want everything to be perfect, but that combination of the economy, I have a little injury, I have a situation. And it all came together.
King: Did you break your neck?
Ed McMahon: I broke my neck. I had a fall. …
King: Has that stopped you from working?
Ed McMahon: Oh, sure. You know, you can’t work with this [brace] around your neck. And I have to wear this.
King: But, Pam, the assumption is that the McMahons are multimillionaires and multimillionaires — how much behind are you, $644,000, right? That’s what’s reported? … If you’re a millionaire, shouldn’t you be able to pay $644,000?
Pam McMahon: I think over the years, you know, it’s just a kind of a combination of maybe Ed working so hard and not kind of looking at proper management, which happens a lot. … Because you’re a celebrity, people think you have a lot more than you have. And you always want to take great care of all of your friends and your family and everybody, and you do. And you don’t, and I think, you know, we didn’t keep our eye on the ball. We made mistakes.
King: And are they foreclosing?
Pam McMahon: Yes, they are. …
King: So you will lose this home?
Ed McMahon: It’s possible, yes. But now, I’ll tell you what’s happened, oddly enough. Today, all kinds of wonderful things have happened. New things have happened. And new interest in this house. Where the house had no interest, now there’s all kinds of, tons of interest. So who knows what’s going to happen. I’m optimistic. …
King: Ed, why have you gone public?
Ed McMahon: Well, I figured I wanted to, in a sense, speak for the million people you mentioned [facing foreclosure]. I heard that figure today and I just couldn’t believe it. Anyway, the million people that now have foreclosure signs on their house, or nearby. And I just want to give them hope, give them optimism, give them some kind of guidance. Get the best corrective people you need around you. Keep working on it. Don’t stop. There’s a lot of people that are hard workers, did everything right, didn’t do anything wrong, and all of a sudden, they’re in this boat. And I speak for all of them, as far as I’m concerned.