Celebrities ranging from Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien to Britney Spears offered fond memories of Ed McMahon, a testament to the legend's wide influence and everyman appeal.
O'Brien said on Tuesday's Tonight Show that the most iconic second banana in the show's history played an "indelible part" in broadcasting history.
"It is impossible, I think, for anyone to imagine the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson without Ed McMahon," O'Brien said. "Ed's laugh was really the soundtrack to that show.
"For 30 years Ed played his part perfectly, he played it with effortless joy and sitting alongside Johnny, Ed was an indelible part of what I think is the most iconic two-shot in broadcasting history," O'Brien continued. "There will never be anything like that again. Now everybody here at the Tonight Show mourns the loss of this warm and really truly funny man. Our thoughts go out to his family and to his fans everywhere. ... Ed, you will be missed."
O'Brien also showed highlights from McMahon's 30-year stint on the Tonight Show as Carson's announcer and sidekick.
McMahon, who died Tuesday morning
at age 86, hosted shows of his own as well, including Star Search
and TV Bloopers and Practical Jokes with Dick Clark
"Fifty years ago, Ed and I were next-door neighbors. Over the years, our friendship grew while he became one of America's favorite television personalities" Clark said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight
. "We were together for years. Ed was a big man, had big talent and a really big heart. We'll all miss him."
One of the young talents featured on Star Search
was Britney Spears, who performed on the program in 1992, at age 10. Spears, who also became one of McMahon's neighbors, credited him for giving her the "first shot" at stardom. "I am deeply saddened by today's news about Ed McMahon," Spears posted on Twitter
. "He is responsible for giving so many artists their first shot, including myself. He was a wonderful man and will be greatly missed."
Friends and former colleagues of McMahon also remembered his jovial and friendly personality. Ex-Tonight Show
bandleader Doc Severinsen said the late star was "full of life and joy and celebration."
"He will be sorely missed. He was one of the greats in show business, but most of all he was a gentleman," Severinsen said. "I miss my friend."
Don Rickles, a frequent Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
guest, said McMahon was "a friend from the day I first walked on a stage on the Johnny Carson show and sat down between Johnny and Ed. That kind of fun will never be repeated. Ed was the best at what he did and will never be replaced. Another giant is gone."
Added former Tonight Show
host Jay Leno: "I don't know anybody that didn't like Ed. He was just a wonderful, wonderful guy. That was really sad. He was a terrific guy."
McMahon is survived by his wife, Pam, and children, Claudia, Katherine, Linda, Jeffrey and Lex, to whom Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent his thoughts and prayers.
"America has lost one of its greatest and most memorable television personalities today. From Star Search
to the 30 years he spent in our living rooms as an integral part of the Tonight Show
, Ed brought joy and laughter to millions of Americans," he said. "Today we join the rest of the country in mourning the loss of this icon who was truly woven into the fabric of America."