What really happened to Johnny Carson’s Matinee Lady?

Carol Wayne, the buxom blonde actress who appeared many times on the Johnny Carson show in the 1970s, couldn’t swim.

She didn’t even like to go near the water. She was terrified of water, her personal assistant said.

On January 10, 1985, she was on vacation at the Las Hadas resort in Manzanillo, Mexico, with Los Angeles car salesman and sometime horror film director Ed Durston.

Carol Wayne death mystery
Ed Durston

They had a heated argument and Carol reportedly took a walk on the beach to “cool off.”

Three days later, January 13, a fisherman found her body in Santiago Bay. She was 42.

When local officials went looking for Durston he had checked out of the hotel and was back in L.A., apparently unconcerned about Carol’s fate. Unless, of course, he knew! He left her luggage at the airport with a message that she would pick it up next morning.

There were no drugs or alcohol in Carol’s body. She was quickly cremated and her ashes shipped back to her 13-year-old son in Los Angeles.

Carol Wayne’s death was ruled an accident by Mexican authorities, but few people believed that.

“Carol Wayne’s death is unsolved,” the U.S. Consul said at the time. “But I don’t think it was a drowning. There is much more to it than that.”

To this day, no one knows what really happened to Carol Wayne.

Here’s the kicker about Durston. In 1969 he was the last person to be with TV host Art Linkletter’s daughter Diane before she plunged six floors to her death from a West Hollywood apartment building. The death was ruled a suicide.

Makes you wonder. Whatever Durston did or whatever he knew, he took to the grave with him in 2010.

Diane Linkletter and Carol Wayne, their true fates unknown.

And the death of Johnny Carson’s skit mate is still a mystery.

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  • I enjoyed her antics on Carson’s show. The perfect dumb blonde and straight woman. I always thought there was something amiss with her death. Television is awful compared to those days. Kimmel and Fallon are a shadow of Carson, Bishop and Cavett. Nice points to bring up.

  • You’re so right about the late-night talk shows these past few years — a bunch of smirking unfunny fools who obsess on politics, especially that arrogant foul-mouthed Colbert. I used to watch Johnny Carson just about every night but these new guys, cannot stand them. There will never be another Johnny. And Cavett was one of a kind too.