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Ed McMahon

Television Personality

Ed McMahon's first appearance before a microphone was as a 15-year-old "caller" at a bingo game in Maine. After that he would spend the next three years touring the state fair and carnival circuit. A Marine fighter pilot during World War II, McMahon sold vegetable slicers on Atlantic City's boardwalk to put himself through Catholic University in Washington, DC. In the 1950s McMahon hosted a late-night interview show in Philadelphia before working as a clown on the show "Big Top" (1950). His next assignment was as a fighter pilot during the Korean War. After that he resumed his career in television. In 1959 he was hired as Johnny Carson's straight man on the daytime quiz show "Do You Trust Your Wife" (1956). When Carson succeeded Jack Paar on NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1962), he took McMahon with him. This job would last for 30 years and make McMahon wealthy and famous. On the big screen he would play straight roles in the dramatic The Incident (1967)--for which he got very good reviews--and in the comic Fun with Dick and Jane (1977). He would also appear in made-for-TV movies and host daytime game shows in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s McMahon would team with Dick Clark on "TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes" (1984) and host his own long-running talent show, "Star Search" (1983). He would also make commercial appearances for a multitude of products. In 1994 he would be cast as himself in Love Affair (1994) with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening.