Ed McMahon with Johnny Carson on the set of "The Tonight Show."
This has to be from the early 1960s.
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Ed McMahon became the most famous sidekick in television history working alongside Johnny Carson on 'The Tonight Show.'
The headline of the NY Times obit for him says it well: Ed McMahon, America’s Top Second Banana, Dies
The NY Daily News gets it well in the subtitle of its obit: Ed McMahon became the most famous sidekick in television history working alongside Johnny Carson on 'The Tonight Show.' The first line of the obit, though, misses the point: Ed McMahon, the former sidekick of Johnny Carson on "Tonight Show" turned commercial pitchman, has died. He was always a pitchman.
it was in the role of the faithful Tonto to Carson’s wry Lone Ranger that Mr. McMahon made his sideman’s mark. After he rolled out his introduction like a red carpet for the boss, and after Carson delivered his nightly monologue, Mr. McMahon, in jacket and tie, would take his seat on the couch beside the host’s desk, chat and banter with Carson a bit before the guests came on and almost invariably guffaw at his jokes, even when he was the butt of them. When the guests did arrive, he would slide over to make room and rarely interrupt.
The work paid handsomely — some reports said $5 million a year — and it made Mr. McMahon a familiar face, and voice, in millions of households. “The Tonight Show” became the country’s most popular late-night television diversion, and the “Heeeere’s Johnny” introduction became a national catchphrase.
I loved the show, and watched it religiously for a good number of years.