Edward Peter Leo McMahon, Jr.
was born in Detroit Michigan in 1923. McMahon led a somewhat
unhappy and nomadic childhood. His father traveled all over the
country pursuing various financial ventures including carnival
jobs and bingo games. Nevertheless, McMahon had a good lineage.
His great-great-great-grandfather, the Duke of Magenta, was a
marshal and president of France. The Duke's favorite sauce, named
Macmahonaise in his honor, was later shortened to mayonnaise.
McMahon's grandmother was the cousin of Rose Fitzgerald, mother
of John F. Kennedy. Many of McMahon's summers were spent at his
grandparent's in Lowell Massachusetts. McMahon's ambition was
to be a radio announcer and had his first announcing job at the
age of 15.
When the United States began gearing up for World War II, McMahon
wanted to become a Marine fighter pilot. Since the Navy's V-5
program required two years of college, he enrolled in Boston
College. When the Navy relaxed the two-year requirement, McMahon
dropped out of school and signed up. In early 1943, he first
went to a civilian-run Wartime Training School in Texarkana where
the Navy evaluated cadets' potential by checking them out in
a Piper Cub. Then came the three-month Preflight School at Athens,
Georgia. McMahon received primary training at Dallas and intermediate
training at Pensacola. McMahon received the single engine carrier
syllabus and was assigned to the Marines. After receiving his
commission and wings in early 1945, McMahon was sent to the Corsair
Operational Training Unit at Lee Field, Green Cove Springs, Florida.
Upon completion of training, he was "plowed back" and
became an instructor in the same unit. On the day the atomic
bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, McMahon received orders to join
the Marine carrier program on the West Coast. His orders were
cancelled and he returned to civilian life.
After McMahon graduated from Catholic University, he got a job
in television in Philadelphia. In two years, he had become Philadelphia's
top TV personality. In 1952, McMahon got his big break when he
was offered a job in New York with CBS; however, he was recalled
into the Marine Corps due to the Korean War. After several months
of training at Miami and El Toro, McMahon arrived in Korea in
February 1953. He flew 85 artillery-spotting missions in the
Cessna OE Bird Dog before returning home in September 1953. McMahon
returned to television in Philadelphia for several years. In
1958, he was hired as the announcer for Johnny Carson's Who Do
You Trust? In 1962, Johnny Carson took over as host of The Tonight
Show and took McMahon along as his announcer and sidekick. Carson
and McMahon became an institution and remained on The Tonight
Show for 6,583 programs over a 30-year period. Since retiring
from The Tonight Show, McMahon has worked on several other TV
shows and served as spokesman for various companies and charities.
McMahon remained active in the Marine Reserves retiring as a
full colonel in 1966.
Ed McMahon passed away at the Ronald Reagan
UCLA Medical Center on 23 June 2009.