Ed McMahon (March 6, 1923 – June 23, 2009)
Edward Leo Peter McMahon Jr.
was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts.
At 15, McMahon began his announcing career as a bingo caller. In Maine, McMahon worked as a carnival barker. In college, he worked as a pitchman for veggie slicers on the boardwalk of Atlantic City. His first radio broadcasting job was at WLLH-AM in Lowell and his TV career was at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia.
McMahon served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. After the war, he remained in the reserves, retiring in 1966 as a colonel. He almost served in WWII as a pilot, but after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb drops, his orders were cancelled.
After WWII he studied speech and drama at the Catholic University of America. He graduated in 1949. In October 1962, he joined Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. McMahon’s opening line “Heeeere’s Johnny!” was (lovingly) spoofed by Jack Nicolson in the 1980 horror film The Shining. In 1983, McMahon was the host of the TV program Star Search, which launched the careers of many major celebrities. McMahon is also famously known for hosting the Jerry Lewis Telethon and as co-host (alongside Dick Clark) of TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes. In his later years McMahon served as spokesperson for several companies.
McMahon was married three times. He had four children from his first marriage, adopted a daughter during his second and adopted his final wife’s son. (McMahon’s spouse at the time of his death was Pamela Hun.)
In 2002, McMahon, Pamela, members of their household staff and family dog became ill from toxic mold that had occurred from water damage from a broken pipe that contractors had failed to properly clean up. In 2007, McMahon was injured in a fall, causing a broken neck and requiring multiple surgeries to correct. On June 23, 2009, McMahon died at the age of 86. No formal cause of death was given, but his publicist said he died of numerous health problems he had suffered over his final months. In 2010 McMahon was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame.