Ed McMahon, the former announcer of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson has died.
He passed away shortly after midnight Tuesday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center surrounded by his wife, Pam, and other family members. McMahon was 86.
For three decades, the 6-foot-four McMahon started the Tonight Show with his patented and much imitated chant, “And now h-e-e-e-e-e-ere’s Johnny!”
He hosted a show called Star Search in the 1980’s, long before American Idol and America’s Got Talent were even a glimmer in Simon Cowell’s eye.
He hosted a show called TV’s Bloppers and Practical Jokes with Dick Clark for over 15 years. Yes, the show was total schlock but it still worked especially the corny jokes and the forced dialogue.
McMahon was a spokesman for several companies including American Family Publishers Sweepstakes and Budweiser. He was co-host of Jerry Lewis’ annual muscular dystrophy telethon.
A good American, McMahon was a fighter pilot during World War II. He served in the Korean War flying 85 tactical air control and artillery spotting missions. In 1966, he retired from the Maries with the rank of colonel. He was then commissioned as a Brigadier General in the California Air National Guard.
Such a television icon, McMahon inspired the character of Hank “Hey Now!” Kingsley seen in the HBO comedy The Larry Sanders Show.
He was then reintroduced to an entire new generation of fans thanks to Phil Hartman’s rousing impression of him opposite Dana Carvey’s Johnny Carson on Saturday Night Live.
Recently McMahon faced hard times. With his health prevented him from working, McMahon’s financial situation to worsen to point where his house was in jeopardy of being foreclosed. This prompted McMahon to make a sad and depressing appearance in a Cash 4 Gold commercial which aired during Super Bowl XLIII.
Hopefully a poor and broken McMahon won’t be our last memory of the man.
In the wake of his passing, many eulogizing McMahon are focusing on his run with Johnny Carson that made him the greatest sidekicks of all-time. He certainly is that, in fact McMahon is the quintessential side kick. However, Land of Punt believes he was so much more than that.
McMahon had an effable personality. He was a welcoming and a non-offensive figure. His presence was a comfort. You couldn’t help but like him. During his heyday he was as much a part of television as the volume knob.
Ed McMahon was America’s Spokesman.