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His publicist, Howard Bragman, told NBC that Mr. McMahon died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center surrounded by his family. Mr. Bragman did not give a cause of death, saying only that Mr. McMahon had a “multitude of health problems the last few months.”
With his broad, genial, regular-guy features, Mr. McMahon had the face of someone you would buy a used car from
The work paid handsomely — some reports said $5 million a year — and it made Mr. McMahon a familiar face, and voice, in millions of households. “The Tonight Show” became the country’s most popular late-night television diversion, and the “Heeeere’s Johnny” introduction became a national catchphrase.
Off camera he and Carson were friends and occasional drinking buddies, although Mr. McMahon noted that Carson, who died in 2005, was not terribly social. “He doesn’t give friendship easily or need it,” he said. “He packs a tight suitcase.”
But his budding television career was interrupted when he was recalled into military service during the Korean War. He flew 85 combat missions in 15 months, winning six Air Medals, and remained active in the Marine Corps Reserve afterward
”For 40 years Johnny and I were as close as two nonmarried people can be,” he wrote. “And if he heard me say that, he might say, ‘Ed, I always felt you were my insignificant other.’ “