If You've Ever Looked For Faces In Your Potato Chips, Thank Myrtle Young The Potato Chip Lady, aka Myrtle Young, died in August of this year. She was 90. Young became famous after showing her collection of unusually shaped chips to Tonight Show host Johnny Carson in 1987.
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If You've Ever Looked For Faces In Your Potato Chips, Thank Myrtle Young

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If You've Ever Looked For Faces In Your Potato Chips, Thank Myrtle Young

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Here's another name you might not recognize - Myrtle Young, who died this year the age of 90. But if I say potato chip lady, I bet many of you flashed back to a classic moment on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

JOHNNY CARSON: Well, we have a - we have a little more time left here. Now, what are some of your prize ones on this?

MYRTLE YOUNG: Well, I have a dirty sweat socks.

CARSON: Potato chips, folks, if you just joined us.

YOUNG: Yes.

RATH: Myrtle was a potato chip inspector from Fort Wayne, Indiana. She had amassed a collection of unusually shaped chips - potato chips that looked like animals, fruits, celebrities.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

YOUNG: I have Rodney Dangerfield.

CARSON: Hold it. That's it. Look at that. We can get a shot.

YOUNG: Rodney Dangerfield.

CARSON: There's Rodney Dangerfield.

(LAUGHTER)

RATH: When she appeared with Johnny Carson to show off her collection, it had all the makings of a pretty hokey, forgettable talk show segment.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

YOUNG: Here's a camel - a camel.

CARSON: That sure is. There's no doubt about that.

YOUNG: And the pair is rather perfect.

RATH: But Carson knew how to make memorable TV. Myrtle was being set up.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

YOUNG: I have a lot of apples and pears and pumpkins - potato chips.

CARSON: Potato chips, OK.

RATH: We're about to see Carson display skills he'd acquired as a magician. Ed McMahon, able sidekick, supplies the misdirection.

ED MCMAHON: Look at this one, John.

RATH: Myrtle looks away. And on the offbeat, as magicians say, Carson slips his hand away from her collection, reaches behind his desk to switch in a normal potato chip and pops it into his mouth.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

RATH: You can tell right away he's scared he's gone too far.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

CARSON: No, I didn't...

RATH: Carson turns on a dime from prankster to comforter.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

CARSON: Gee, poor Myrtle thought I was eating her collection.

(LAUGHTER)

CARSON: No, they had a bowl back year of just regular chips, and I had one of those. I wasn't...

RATH: Myrtle's immediately in on the joke and laughing with everyone.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

CARSON: Excuse me. You really had a start there, didn't you?

YOUNG: Yes, I heard that crunch.

CARSON: You heard that crunch, and you thought I was eating your act. OK.

RATH: Such a beautiful human moment that even though Myrtle Young died in August, she long ago achieved television immortality.

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