Edward Leo Peter "Ed" McMahon, Jr. (March 6, 1923 - June 23, 2009) was an American voice actor on the animated series The Angry Beavers.

Early years

McMahon was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Edward Leo Peter McMahon, Sr., a fund-raiser and entertainer, and his wife Eleanor (Russell) McMahon.[1] He was raised in Lowell, Massachusetts often visiting his paternal Aunt Mary Brennan at her home on Chelmsford St. McMahon began his career as a bingo caller in Maine when he was fifteen. Prior to this, he worked as a carnival barker for three years in Mexico, Maine. He put himself through college as a pitchman for vegetable slicers on the Atlantic City boardwalk. His first broadcasting job was at WLLH-AM in his native Lowell and he began his television career in Philadelphia at WCAU-TV.[2]

Military service

McMahon hoped to become a United States Marine Corps fighter pilot. Prior to the US entry into World War II, however, both the Army and Navy required two years of college for their pilots program. McMahon enrolled into classes at Boston College and studied there from 1940–41. On The Howard Stern Show in 2001, McMahon stated that after Pearl Harbor was attacked, the college requirement was not lifted and he still had to finish his two years of college before applying for Marine Corps flight training. After completing the college requirement, McMahon was able to enlist as he previously wished. His primary flight training was in Dallas, followed by fighter training in Pensacola, where he also earned his carrier landing qualifications. He was a Marine Corps flight instructor for two years, finally being ordered to the Pacific fleet in 1945. However, his orders were canceled after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing Japan's surrender unconditionally.

As an officer in the reserves, McMahon was recalled to active duty during the Korean War. This time, he flew the OE-1 (the original Marine designation for the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog), an unarmed single-engine spotter plane. He functioned as an artillery spotter for the Marine batteries on the ground and as a forward controller for the Navy and Marine fighter bombers. He flew a total of 85 combat missions, earning six Air Medals. After the war, he stayed with the Marines as a reserve officer, retiring in 1966 as a colonel. In 1982, McMahon received a state commission as a brigadier general in the California Air National Guard, an honorary award to recognize his support for the National Guard and Reserves.[3][4]

The Catholic University of America

After World War II, McMahon studied at The Catholic University of America under the GI Bill and graduated in 1949. He majored in speech and drama while studying under the Rev. Gilbert Hartke and was a member of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity. After graduation, McMahon led the effort to raise funds for a theater to be named for Hartke and attended its dedication in 1970 with Helen Hayes and Sidney Poitier.[5]

While working as Johnny Carson's sidekick during The Tonight Show, McMahon served as the president of the national alumni association from 1967 to 1971 and would often return to campus, especially for homecoming.[5] During the University's centennial celebration in 1987, McMahon and comedian Bob Newhart performed.[5] He received an honorary Doctor of Communication Arts in 1988. "I owe so much to CU," McMahon once said. "That's where my career got its start."[5]

Today, the Ed McMahon Endowed Scholarship helps outstanding students and provides scholarship assistance to juniors and seniors who are pursuing a bachelor's degree in either the Department of Drama or the Department of Media Studies within the School of Arts and Sciences.[5]

Personal life

Marriage and children

McMahon married Alyce Ferrell on July 5, 1945, while he was serving as a flight instructor in the Marines.[6] The couple had four children: Claudia (b. 1946), Michael Edward (1951–1995), Linda and Jeffrey.[7] They separated in 1972 and divorced in 1974.[8] McMahon married Victoria Valentine on March 6, 1976.[9] They adopted a daughter in 1985, Katherine Mary. The couple divorced in 1989. McMahon paid $50,000 per month in spousal and child support.[10] On February 22, 1992, three months before his Tonight Show run came to a close, in a ceremony held near Las Vegas,[10] McMahon married Pamela "Pam" Hurn, a 37-year-old mother of a son named Lex. McMahon's daughter Katherine served as best person at the wedding. McMahon adopted his wife's son, making his name Lex McMahon. Pam Hurn McMahon was widowed in 2009 when Ed McMahon died, and spoke at his funeral.

McMahon was a longtime summer resident of Avalon, New Jersey.[11]

Health problems

On April 20, 2002, McMahon sued his insurance company for more than $20 million, alleging that he was sickened by toxic mold that spread through his Beverly Hills house after contractors failed to properly clean up water damage from a broken pipe. McMahon and his wife, Pamela, became ill from the mold, as did members of their household staff, according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court suit. The McMahons blamed the mold for the death of the family dog, Muffin. Their suit, the latest of many in recent years over toxic mold, was filed against American Equity Insurance Co., a pair of insurance adjusters, and several environmental cleanup contractors. It sought monetary damages for alleged breach of contract, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On March 21, 2003, the long legal battle ended with McMahon being awarded $7.2 million from several companies who were negligent for allowing toxic mold into his home, sickening him and his wife and killing their dog.[12]

McMahon was injured in 2007 in a fall and, in March 2008, it was announced he was recovering from a broken neck and two subsequent surgeries. He later sued Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and two doctors claiming fraud, battery, elder abuse, and emotional distress, and accused them of discharging him with a broken neck after his fall in 2007 and later botching two neck surgeries.

On February 27, 2009 it was reported that McMahon had been in an undisclosed Los Angeles hospital (later confirmed as Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center) for almost a month. He was listed in serious condition and was in the intensive care unit. His publicist told reporters that he was admitted for pneumonia at the time, but could not confirm nor deny reports that McMahon had been diagnosed with bone cancer.[13]


McMahon died on June 23, 2009, shortly after midnight at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. He was 86 years old. His nurse, Julie Koehne, RN, stated he went peacefully. No formal cause of death was given, but McMahon's publicist attributed his death to the many health problems he had suffered over his final months.[14] McMahon had said that he still suffered from the injury to his neck in March 2007.[15]

Conan O'Brien paid tribute to McMahon on The Tonight Show later that night, saying "It is impossible, I think, for anyone to imagine 'The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson' without Ed McMahon. Ed's laugh was really the soundtrack to that show." O'Brien added that McMahon, with Carson, created "the most iconic two-shot in broadcasting history. There will never be anything like that again."[16]

The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia posthumously inducted McMahon into their Hall of Fame in 2010.[2]

Characters portrayed

  • Announcer


  1. Ed McMahon Biography (1923–2009).
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Ed McMahon posthumously inducted into Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame".
  3. Deseret News, "It's General Ed", February 24, 1982
  4. Jerry Buck, Associated Press, Youngstown Vindicator, "Shows Keep McMahon Busy Despite Vows to 'Slow Down'", January 15, 1984
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 "CUA Mourns the Passing of Alumnus Ed McMahon". The Catholic University of America. June 23, 2009.
  6. Wise, James E.; Rehill, Anne Collier (1999). Stars in the corps: movie actors in the United States Marines. Naval Institute Press. pp. 133–138. ISBN 1-55750-949-2.
  7. Social Security Death Index
  8. Gliatto, Tom; Doris Bacon (September 9, 1991). "Ed Over Heels". People. 36 (9).
  9. McMahon, Ed; Fisher, David (1999). For Laughing Out Loud: My Life and Good Times. p. 290.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Laufenberg, Norbert B. (2005). Entertainment Celebrities. Trafford Publishing. p. 442. ISBN 1-4120-5335-8.
  11. Browne, Greg. "ED MCMAHON DIES; HAD STRONG TIES TO AVALON", WMGM-TV, June 23, 2009, backed up by the Internet Archive as of March 13, 2013. Accessed August 23, 2015. "For 30 years, Ed McMahon was Johnny Carson's loyal sidekick and straight-man on 'The Tonight Show', but what many people may not know is that McMahon was also a loyal fan and summer resident of Avalon for nearly two decades. In the late 1960s McMahon built a summer beach house on 18th Street in which he and his family spent many summers, up until the early 80's."
  12. "Ed McMahon Settles Suit Over Mold for $7.2 Million". Los Angeles Times.
  13. Ed McMahon ill with pneumonia,; accessed January 16, 2015.
  14. "American TV star Ed McMahon dies". BBC News. June 24, 2009.
  15. Ed McMahon dead at 86,
  16. Barrett, Liz (June 24, 2009). "Conan O'Brien pays tribute to Ed McMahon, dead at 86". Newsroom New Jersey.

External links

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