Wednesday, June 24, 2009
LOS ANGELES – 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.
Don Rickles, a frequent "Tonight" guest, said McMahon was "a friend from the day I first walked" onto the show's stage.
"That kind of fun will never be repeated. Ed was the best at what he did and will never be replaced. Another giant is gone," the comedian said.
"I will miss that laugh, and I will miss him," said Bob Newhart, another "Tonight" regular.
David Letterman paid tribute to McMahon as a "true broadcaster" and key part of Carson's show.
"Ed McMahon's voice at 11:30 was a signal that something great was about to happen. Ed's introduction of Johnny was a classic broadcasting ritual — reassuring and exciting," Letterman said, adding, "We will miss him."
Letterman's bandleader, Paul Shaffer, said McMahon "defined professionalism in broadcasting."
David Brenner, who often filled in as a guest host for Carson, called McMahon "the best sidekick TV has ever known."
**He will be missed**