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'Tonight Show' Sidekick Ed McMahon Dies

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Ed McMahon died early this morning at age 86. He had many jobs: radio announcer, fighter pilot, door-to-door salesman, but there's one post he held longer than any other.

(Soundbite of TV program, "The Tonight Show")

Mr. ED McMAHON (Announcer, "The Tonight Show"): Here's Johnny.

(Soundbite of cheer and applause)

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From 1962 to 1992, Ed McMahon introduced Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show." Then after the monologue, he sat next to Carson's desk and laughed to his jokes.

(Soundbite of TV program, "The Tonight Show")

Mr. JOHNNY CARSON (Host, "The Tonight Show"): We have on our staff people who deal with nothing but real estate, Ed. (Unintelligible)...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. McMAHON: The staff?

Mr. CARSON: That's right, Ed. They came up with some tips of our own: Don't buy a house that's on fire.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Never buy a house that has a roof attached. Don't buy a house if you know there's drippings from five of the faucets and the owner.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Make sure the house is in...

SIEGEL: After making Carson seemed even funnier than he was, Ed McMahon would slide down the couch to make room for Carson's guests; the celebrities whose star had shown brighter in the TV studio.

In 2005, McMahon published a book titled "Here's Johnny: My Memories of Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show and 46 Years of Friendship." In it, he wrote this:

BLOCK: (Reading) Of all the 22,000 guests that Johnny had, the one with whom I most identified was Jay Silverheels, a Native American who played Tonto on "The Lone Ranger."

Ed McMahon: trustee sidekick, second banana, the guy on the couch who laughs at the jokes harder than anyone else. Ed McMahon died today in Los Angeles. He was 86. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.