The showbiz nickname of announcer Ed McMahon, the co-host of THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON/NBC/1962-92. McMahon was the commercial spokesman for the Anheuser-Busch Company for some 40 years. and its product, Budweiser, “The King of Beers.” Their catchphrase was “When you say Budweiser, you’ve said it all.”
Johnny Carson often poked fun at Ed McMahon for his alleged imbibing of alcohol. Once Johnny called Ed McMahon “Clydesdale Breath,” a remark referring to the huge Clydesdale horses which are the trademark mascots of the Anheuser-Busch company.
To capitalize on the issue McMahon published a drink recipe book “Ed McMahon’s Barside Companion” (1969). Prior to his association with Budweiser, Ed McMahon did commercials for Erlanger Beer.
McMahon got his start on television playing a circus clown on the 1950-51 variety series BIG TOP in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A veteran of World War II, McMahon departed his TV career and returned to military service in 1952 to serve as a fighter pilot in Korea. He flew 85 combat missions.
A few year later in 1958, McMahon joined the game show WHO DO YOU TRUST? hosted by an up and coming comic Johnny Carson, who brought along Ed McMahon as his announcer when he began THE TONIGHT SHOW which ran from 1962-1992.
Speaking of his friend, Johnny Carson, McMahon recalled, “You can’t imagine hooking up with a guy like Carson. There’s the old phrase, ‘Hook your wagon to a star.’ I hitched my wagon to a great star.”
“And now h-e-e-e-e-e-ere’s Johnny!” was McMahon’s trademark opener for each TONIGHT SHOW as well as his other catchphrases like “High-OOOOOOOO,” “You are correct, sir,” “How cold was it?” and “I hold in my hand the final envelope.”
Besides his duties as announcer on THE TONIGHT SHOW, Ed McMahon hosted several shows over the years, including “THE KRAFT MUSIC HALL (1968) and the amateur talent contest STAR SEARCH from 1983-1995.
He was also a longtime co-host of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon, a Labor Day weekend institution, and co-host with Dick Clark on TV’S BLOOPERS AND PRACTICAL JOKES.
McMahon released his autobiography, “For Laughing Out Loud: My Life and Good Times” (1998); as well as “Here’s Johnny: My Memories of Johnny Carson, the Tonight Show and 46 Years of Friendship” (2005); and “When Television Was Young” (2007).
Born Edward Leo Peter McMahon Jr. on March 6, 1923, in Detroit, Ed McMahon died at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on June 23, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. He was 86. McMahon had bone cancer, among other illnesses prior to his death. In March of 2007, McMahon had broken his neck in a fall. Johnny Carson died in 2005.