Ed McMahon Dead at 86

Breaking:  Ed McMahon, who gained fame as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on “The Tonight Show,” has died, his representative says.


Ed McMahon died at a hospital in Los Angeles this morning, his agent said today.

The 85-year-old TV personality and former “Tonight Show” host died this morning at Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center, his agent said today.

McMahon, who is best known as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on the late-night show, was hospitalized in February with pneumonia and other illnesses.

Verne Gay, TV Zone:

Ed McMahon, one of the great wingmen in show business history and an essential, elemental and indispensable part of Johnny Carson’s act for over thirty years, died last night. He’d been hospitalized since February for pneumonia, and had been diagnosed with systemic bone cancer. More details as they come. The news was just announced on “The Today Show.” He died at the UCLA Medical Center.


He is best known as Johnny Carson’s sidekick on “The Tonight Show” and his infamous catchphrase, “Heeeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!”

McMahon also hosted “Star Search” and “TV Bloopers And Practical Jokes” with Dick Clark.

He was a colonel in the United States Marines and a fighter pilot and served during the late 1940s and 1950s.

That’s the first I’ve heard that McMahon was a Marine colonel, much less that his catchphrase was “infamous.”  The first, at least, is true, I’ve been able to confirm with multiple sources.

He was a television fixture for much of my life, first as Carson’s sidekick and then as the star of his own shows and eventually as a pitchman for everything from Publisher’s Clearinghouse to insurance.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. G.A.Phillips says:

    Seemed like a cool dude, R.I.P. Ed.