Tuesday, June 23, 2009
by Mike Bendixen
Ed McMahon, the loyal "Tonight Show" sidekick who bolstered boss Johnny Carson with guffaws and a resounding "H-e-e-e-e-e-ere's Johnny!" for 30 years, died early Tuesday. He was 86.
McMahon died shortly after midnight at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center surrounded by his wife, Pam, and other family members, said his publicist, Howard Bragman.
Bragman didn't give a cause of death, saying only that McMahon had a "multitude of health problems the last few months."
McMahon had bone cancer, among other illnesses, according to a person close to the entertainer, and had been hospitalized for several weeks. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information.
McMahon broke his neck in a fall in March 2007, and battled a series of financial problems as his injuries prevented him from working.
McMahon and Carson had worked together for nearly five years on the game show "Who Do You Trust?" when Carson took over NBC's late-night show from Jack Paar in October 1962. McMahon played second banana on "Tonight" until Carson retired in 1992.
"You can't imagine hooking up with a guy like Carson," McMahon said an interview with The Associated Press in 1993. "There's the old phrase, hook your wagon to a star. I hitched my wagon to a great star."
McMahon kept his supporting role in perspective.
"It's like a pitcher who has a favourite catcher," he said. "The pitcher gets a little help from the catcher, but the pitcher's got to throw the ball. Well, Johnny Carson had to throw the ball, but I could give him a little help."
Posted by Michael Godin at 8:18 AM