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Potato chip lady Myrtle Young dies at 90

She became a celebrity after her guest appearance with Johnny Carson in 1987

Monday, August 11, 2014 - 2:26 pm

The Fort Wayne woman who sat next to Johnny Carson on the "Tonight Show" with her potato chip collection in 1987 has reportedly died.

Ian Hoover of 21Alive reported that Myrtle Young died on Saturday of natural causes. She was 90. Her guest appearance with some of her potato chips on "The Tonight Show" was ranked the Funniest moment "Ever" in Television history by TV Guide.

The former potato chip inspector for Seyfert's was sitting in the guest chair between Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon on ``The Tonight Show.'' Young had flown out to show off her collection of potato chips that resemble famous people and animals.

Then, after Ed McMahon distracted her, she heard ``crunch, crunch, crunch'' -- the sound of Carson munching potato chips.

Young swung around, her face showing sheer horror.

``My heart just stopped,'' recalled Young, who didn't know Carson was munching on chips from a bowl hidden under his desk. ``I thought he ate one of them.''

The editors of TV Guide magazine named that moment the funniest on television in the previous 50 years.

The appearance also propelled Young to celebrity status.

Besides visiting the Carson show in Burbank, Calif., she also was a guest on "Late Night with David Letterman" in New York and several other TV shows.

Young knew an unusual potato chip when she saw one -- she had been a chip inspector for 17 years. She collected about a hundred of them that looked like ... well, like other things.

``That's nothing, they ought to see what I've got!" Young sniffed when she read Ripley's Believe It or Not cartoon about a peanut shaped like a wooden shoe.

So she phoned The News-Sentinel earlier in 1987 about her potato chip collection. She told us she's Seyfert's potato chip inspector 17 years, and had turned up some chips we simply must see to believe.

A potato chip collection? "Oh, yes!" she bubbled. "They're shaped like horses' heads, boots, Yogi Bear, just all kinds of things!''

A reporter was dispatched. He discovered 100 chips arranged on newspaper, on her Formica kitchen table, next to a bowl of plastic fruit.

The rest is history.

The viewing will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Joy Fellowship Assembly of God church, 109 Moeller Road in New Haven. The funeral service will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday at the church. Arrangements are being coordinated by Covington Memorial Gardens on Covington Road in Fort Wayne.