Iconic Sidekick Ed McMahon Dead at 86
Former Tonight Show sidekick fought cancer
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 23, 2009 8:11 AM CDT
Promotional portrait of American television host Ed McMahon, early 1960s.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Ed McMahon died last night in Los Angeles. The former Johnny Carson sidekick, 86, had long fought cancer and was recently admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, WAPT reports. Besides his Tonight Show role, McMahon was known for hosting Star Search and appearing on commercials handing giant checks to American Family Publishers sweepstakes winners.

McMahon introduced Carson to viewers with his trademark “Heeeere’s Johnny!” as “TV’s most famous second banana” from 1962-1992, People reports. After graduating college, McMahon got a job at a Philadelphia TV station; his first meeting with Carson a few years later was “about as exciting as watching a traffic light change,” he said. But he was hired on Carson’s ABC show in 1956 before the pair headed to the Tonight Show.