Ed McMahon will be remembered as the king of the late-night sidekicks, said Steve Gorman in Reuters. McMahon, best known as "the full-throated announcer" and second banana for Johnny Carson on NBC's The Tonight Show for 30 years, died on Tuesday at age 86, after battling pneumonia and other undisclosed illnesses. "Outgoing" and "affable," McMahon started his career "with stints as a bingo caller, carnival barker, and boardwalk pitchman before becoming a broadcast announcer and TV host." (watch Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show)
"His trademark opening 'Heeeeeere's Johnny!'" for The Tonight Show "became part of the cultural lexicon," said Bill Keveney in USA Today, "echoed most memorably by Jack Nicholson in 1980's The Shining." McMahon was also the face of the American Family Publishers contest, and "served as host, announcer, and sidekick on numerous other television shows, including Star Search, TV Bloopers & Practical Jokes, and Jerry Lewis' annual Muscular Dystrophy telethon."
McMahon was also quite a businessman, said Richard Severo in The New York Times, acquiring "a stationery company, a company that made knickknacks, two television and film companies, and a talent agency," while also speculating in real estate. Although McMahon faced financial difficulties toward the end of his life, while on The Tonight Show, Carson often joked that his sidekick could be found "selling jams and jellies in the elevator."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Surviving a plane crash
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Ted Cruz and the most cynical, despicable political stunt of the year
- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: The man who would be caliph
- Everything you need to master Chinese cooking
- When men who abstain from pre-marital sex get married
- The greatest sniper duel in history is a myth
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
Subscribe to the Week