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McMahon tours country to honor Johnny

Former sidekick says late ‘Tonight Show’ host took success in stride
/ Source: The Associated Press

Ed McMahon is taking to the road to pay tribute to longtime TV partner Johnny Carson, stopping in the late-night king's home state to reflect on the pair's friendship.

Carson, who grew up in Norfolk, died Jan. 23 of emphysema at age 79. He was the host of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" from 1962 to 1992.

McMahon started working with Carson in 1957 as his announcer on "Who Do You Trust?" The game show ran until 1962.

"Heeeeere's Johnny!" was the booming announcement from McMahon that ushered Carson out to the stage of "The Tonight Show."

McMahon said he was closer to Carson than Carson's own brother. They ate dinner together several nights a week and talked about their troubles, dreams and families.

"Johnny once described our relationship by saying we were as close as two people could be without being married," McMahon said.

Carson was the acknowledged king of late-night television and McMahon said the job was tough. It had its highs and lows like any job and Carson took it all in stride, he said.

"There is no planning. On the night it is really great, it's euphoria and if it is not so great there is always tomorrow night. That was his attitude," said McMahon, who gave a Town Hall Interpretations talk Tuesday.

"Everywhere I go people remember the certain moments of the show as the highlight of anything they ever saw in television," he said.