What happened to Johnny Carson’s Matinee Lady?

Carol Wayne death mystery
Carol Wayne on the Johnny Carson show.

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 a man named Ed Durston. There is confusion over whether this Ed Durston was an L.A. car salesman named Edward Dale Durston, who would have been 43 at the time of Carol’s death, or horror movie director David Edward Durston, who went by the name of Ed and who would have been 54 at that time.

Carol Wayne death mystery
Ed Durston the movie director

Carol and this Ed Durston guy had a heated argument and Carol 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 that guy named Ed 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. This Ed Durston was reported to be 27. at the time, meaning it couldn’t have been Ed Durston the movie director, who would have been 38 at the time. In any case, Diane’s death was ruled a suicide.

Whatever Ed Durston did or whatever he knew, he took to the grave with him.

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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There will never be another Johnny!


The King of Late Night TV hosted The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson for thirty years between 1962 and 1992.

Back then, the Tonight Show was funny — unlike the current line-up of late-night TV shows that focus on politics where the smirking, unfunny hosts delight in bashing people.

When asked why his show avoided controversy, Johnny Carson said, “I think it would be a fatal mistake to use my show as a platform for controversial issues. I’m an entertainer, not a commentator. If you’re a comedian your job is to make people laugh.”

Now ain’t that the truth, and late-night TV just isn’t the same — and never will be — since Johnny died on this day, January 23, 2005, at he age of 79.




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