Some sad but not wholly unexpected news out of Hollywood today, as beloved second banana Ed McMahon has passed away at the age of 86.
McMahon had a long career in show biz, doing numerous gigs like hosting Star Search for a dozen years, co-hosting TV Bloopers and Practical Jokes with Dick Clark, and serving as the celebrity face of the Publisher's Sweepstakes. But it was as Johnny Carson's long-standing sidekick on The Tonight Show that McMahon earned TV immortality.
He was first paired with Carson in 1957, on the game show Who Do You Trust? When Carson took over the hosting duties for Tonight from Jack Paar in 1962, he brought McMahon with him, and he sat on the couch next to Johnny for the next 30 years, becoming a truly beloved face to millions of viewers.
Known for his enthusiastic laugh and catch phrases such as "Hey-yo!", McMahon also gave one of the most famous introduction in television history: "And now, heeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!" He was the straight man and comic foil to several of the legendary comic routines on The Tonight Show, most notably the always hilarious Carnac the Magnificent routine.
In later years, the man famous for his willingness to pitch almost anything would fall upon dire financial hardships, resulting in the near loss of his home to creditors. He would eventually work out a deal to save the house and keep him from ruin, mostly through the generosity of famous friends such as Donald Trump. The financial problems were most likely caused by numerous serious illnesses; he broke his neck in 2007 and was likely suffering from bone cancer, among other afflictions.
Here's a nice quote from an LA Times Obituary:
"My role was to make him look good while not looking too good myself," he (McMahon)wrote, and "to get Johnny to the punch line while seeming to do nothing at all." Carson, for his part, left the air saying, "This show would have been impossible to do without Ed."