Dead, Edward Leo Peter “Ed” McMahon, Jr. on June 23, 2009 at the age of 86, he was an American comedian, actor, singer, game show host and announcer.
He is most famous for his work on television as Johnny Carson’s sidekick, announcer, and second banana on The Tonight Show from 1962 through 1992.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, to Edward Leo Peter McMahon, Sr., on March 6, 1923 a fund-raiser and entertainer, and his wife Eleanor (Russell) McMahon, he was raised in Lowell, Massachusetts.
McMahon began his career as a bingo caller in Maine when he was fifteen. Prior to this, he worked as a carnival barker for three years in Mexico, Maine.
He put himself through college as a pitchman for vegetable slicers on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
Prior to the US entry into World War II, however, both the Army and Navy required two years of college for their pilots program.
McMahon enrolled into classes at Boston College and studied there from 1940–41.
After Pearl Harbor was attacked, the college requirement was dropped, and McMahon immediately applied for Marine flight training.
His primary flight training was in Dallas, followed by fighter training in Pensacola, where he also earned his carrier landing qualifications.
He was a Marine Corps flight instructor for two years, finally being ordered to the Pacific fleet in 1945.
However, his orders were cancelled after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing Japan’s surrender unconditionally.
After World War II, McMahon studied at The Catholic University of America under the GI Bill and graduated in 1949.
He majored in speech and drama while studying under the Rev. Gilbert Hartke and was a member of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity.
After graduation, McMahon led the effort to raise funds for a theater to be named for Hartke, and attended its dedication in 1970 with Helen Hayes and Sidney Poitier.
McMahon and Johnny Carson first worked together as announcer and host on the ABC-TV daytime game show Who Do You Trust? (1957–1962).
McMahon and Carson left the show to join The Tonight Show on October first, 1962.
He describes what happened when the pair first met, the whole meeting being “… about as exciting as watching a traffic light change”.
For almost 30 years, McMahon introduced the The Tonight Show with a drawn-out “Heeere’s Johnny!” His booming voice and constant laughter alongside the “King of Late Night” earned McMahon the nickname the “Human Laugh Track” and “Toymaker to the King”.
Long before the final episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson aired on May 22, 1992, McMahon made a name for himself in other areas—first as a pitchman for products as diverse as Budweiser, Breck Shampoo, and Sara Lee Kitchens, and later as host of the long-running syndicated talent show Star Search, which debuted in 1983.
McMahon also became well-known for his role as spokesman (along with longtime friend Dick Clark) for American Family Publishers (not to be confused with Publishers’ Clearinghouse) and its sweepstakes.
McMahon and his first wife, Alyce Ferrell, married while he was in college and had four children—Claudia, Michael, Linda, and Jeffery—before divorcing in 1976.
With his second wife, Victoria Valentine, McMahon adopted a daughter, Katherine. McMahon and Valentine divorced in 1989. He married Pamela Hurn in March 1992.