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Ed McMahon Dies at 86

Sad news for late night fans: Ed McMahon passed away shortly after midnight today, CNN reports. He'd suffered from health problems in recent years, including a 2007 neck injury. McMahon is best remembered for his long-running stint as Johnny Carson's sidekick where he played the straight man or laughed boisterously at Carson's jokes. During one of the more memorable Tonight Show episodes, McMahon went to do the in-show pitch for Alpo dog food, only to find that the dog who was supposed to sample the food wasn't hungry. Carson got down on his hands and knees and rubbed his cheek against McMahon's leg, to the audience's laughter. In later years, McMahon hosted Star Search and TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes and hawked Budweiser, American Family Insurance, and Cash4Gold.com in commercials. Although he was well-compensated for his work, a string of divorces and bad investments took a toll on his finances and in June 2008 he went into arrears on his home loan, although he was able to strike a deal to stay in the house with his wife.