American TV personality and "Tonight Show" sidekick Ed McMahon dies at 86

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ed McMahon in 2005
Image: Christa Chapman.

Ed McMahon, the long time announcer of The Tonight Show, has died age 86. McMahon, who joined The Tonight Show in 1962, died at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center shortly after midnight on June 23. Made famous by his “Here’s Johnny!” catchphrase, McMahon worked with Tonight Show host Johnny Carson for 30 years.

In recent years, McMahon had battled several health issues. In 2007, he fell and broke his neck through which he suffered pain until his death. He began to suffer from pneumonia in March 2009. Reports also began to surface that he had been diagnosed with suspected bone cancer.

McMahon was a Marine Corps fighter pilot in World War II and returned to the United States after the war. He graduated college and became a television producer in Philadelphia. He later served in the Korean War, completing another tour of duty, then was selected as the announcer for ABC daytime program Who Do You Trust? This was the first time McMahon worked alongside Johnny Carson. The two were paired up again four years later as McMahon replaced Hugh Downs as the announcer on The Tonight Show. McMahon earned a reported US$1 million a year working with Carson.

McMahon also appeared in several films and was the host of the talent show Star Search. He annually co-hosted the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and conducted coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

McMahon is survived by his wife Pam and five children. No funeral arrangements have been planned as of yet.