24 Jun 2009

TV veteran Ed McMahon dies

6:20 pm on 24 June 2009

Veteran American television personality Ed McMahon died in Los Angeles on Tuesday, aged 86. He had pneumonia and other illnesses.

McMahon was a fixture on late-night television for 30 years as the announcer and sidekick for Johnny Carson on NBC's The Tonight Show.

He was best known for his nightly introduction of Carson in a deep, booming voice with the drawn-out line "Heeeeeeeeere's Johnny!"

McMahon began his career with stints as a bingo caller, carnival barker and boardwalk pitchman before becoming a broadcast announcer and TV host.

He trained as a US Marine fighter pilot during World War II and flew missions in Korea in the 1950s.

He went on to become Carson's right-hand man on The Tonight Show starting in 1962, stopping in 1992 when Carson retired as host. Carson died in January 2005, aged 79.

His signature introduction of Carson was used in the 1980 movie thriller The Shining when Jack Nicholson announced "Heeeeeeere's Johnny!" as he burst through a door to menace his wife with an ax.

McMahon was also long-time co-host of Jerry Lewis' annual telethon benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association.