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One year ago: Ed McMahon

McmahonNearly every night for three decades, Ed McMahon introduced America to its late-night comedian: "Heeeere's Johnny!"

McMahon, the television pioneer who warmed "The Tonight Show" couch as Johnny Carson's jovial sidekick and announcer,  died one year ago.

McMahon served as Carson's comic foil; the straight man who complemented Carson and helped set up his jokes.

"I had to support him, I had to help him get to the punch line, but while doing it I had to make it look as if I wasn't doing anything at all. The better I did it, the less it appeared as if I was doing it," he wrote in his autobiography, "For Laughing Out Loud."

Before "The Tonight Show," McMahon was Philadelphia's "Mr. Television," serving as host of 13 programs, including a cooking show, a quiz show, the "Million Dollar Movie" and a breakfast-hour show called "Strictly for the Girls."

After Carson, he did a litany of commercial spots and stints on game shows. At one point in the early 1980s, he reportedly was the spokesman for no fewer than 37 banks around the country.

Carson paid tribute to his on-air partner during the duo's last broadcast on May 22, 1992:

"Ed has been a rock for 30 years, sitting over here next to me. . . . We have been friends for 34 years. A lot of people who work together on television don't necessarily like each other. This hasn't been true. . . . We're good friends; you can't fake that on television."

For more about "The Tonight Show" announcer, read The Times' complete obituary for Ed McMahon.

--Michael Farr

Photo: Ed McMahon. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

 
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