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Ed McMahon was the announcer on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, made famous through his banter and his opening introduction, 'Heeeere's Johnny!'
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McMahon's first foray into professional broadcasting came just after he graduated, when a Philadelphia radio station that was branching out into television hired him to serve as a producer and co-host for The Take Ten Show, a three-hour variety show. Over the next few years, McMahon appeared on a number of TV programs, most notably The Big Top, a circus show in which he played a clown. At one time in the early 1950s, McMahon was appearing on no fewer than 13 concurrently running programs on local Philadelphia television.
During the Korean War, McMahon was called into service and eventually earned six air medals. He returned to TV with several new efforts, including a late-night talk show, McMahon and Company. His breakthrough chance came in October 1958, when the producer of the New York-based ABC daytime quiz show Who Do You Trust? hired him as the show's announcer. It was on Who Do You Trust? that McMahon first worked with Johnny Carson, a rising young comic star who was the show's host.
Four years later, Carson was tapped to replace Jack Paar on NBC's late night talk show, The Tonight Show. Carson insisted McMahon come with him to NBC. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson first aired on October 1, 1962. For the next three decades, McMahon served as the show's announcer—with the trademark line "Heeeeeeere's Johnny!"—and the perfect chuckling foil for Carson's monologues and witty banter. First based in New York, then in Burbank, California, The Tonight Show became one of the best-loved programs in America. Even as Carson himself relied more and more on guest hosts during the 1980s, McMahon appeared nightly to perform his announcing duties and support the visiting hosts, who included Joan Rivers and Jay Leno.
Long before the final episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson aired on May 22, 1992, McMahon made a name for himself in other areas—first as a pitchman for products as diverse as Budweiser, Breck Shampoo, and Sara Lee Kitchens, and later as host of the long-running syndicated talent show Star Search, which debuted in 1983. McMahon also became well-known for his role as spokesman (along with longtime friend Dick Clark) for American Family Publishers (not to be confused with Publishers' Clearinghouse) and its sweepstakes.
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