Ed McMahon (Joey Del Valle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Ed McMahon may have been the world's most famous sidekick, laughing along with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show for 30 years. Of course, he himself hosted a number of television shows as well, from The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon to TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes to Star Search. And his commercials for American Family Publishers sweepstakes were unforgettable. We remember McMahon's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
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2013: Sharon Stouder, U.S. competitive swimmer who won three gold medals and one silver medal at the 1964 Olympics, dies at 64.
2013: Richard Matheson, U.S. author and screenwriter known for his novels I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man, dies at 87.
With a career spanning more than 60 years, Matheson crafted stories that deftly transitioned from the page to both big and small screens, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Several of his works were adapted into films, including 1953's Hell House, 1956's The Shrinking Man, 1958's A Stir of Echoes and 1978's What Dreams May Come. Matheson's 1954 sci-fi vampire novel I Am Legend inspired three different film adaptations: 1964's The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price, 1971's Omega Man starring Charlton Heston and 2007's I Am Legend starring Will Smith. Read more
2013: Little Willie Littlefield, U.S. rhythm-and-blues and boogie-woogie singer and pianist whose early songs were an important link between boogie-woogie and rock 'n' roll, dies of cancer at 81.
2013: Bobby "Blue" Bland, U.S. blues singer who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, dies of complications from an ongoing illness at 83.
Bland was known as the Sinatra of the Blues, beloved for his uniquely lush and dramatic tunes, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. From his earliest days on Beale Street in Memphis, where he played with legends including B.B. King and Junior Parker, to the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award he received in 1997, to his final performances just before his death, Bland wowed his fans with gospel-tinged blues and soul. Read more
2011: Peter Falk, U.S. actor known best for his starring role as detective Lieutenant Columbo on the television series Columbo, dies of cardiac arrest and pneumonia at 83.
Peter Falk died four years ago, June 23, 2011, eight years after his last appearance as beloved television detective Columbo. For 35 years, Falk wore Columbo's unmistakable rumpled trenchcoat as he shuffled his way through the lives of the rich and famous, casually unraveling seemingly perfect murders. From 1968 to 2003, Falk starred in 69 movie-length episodes of Columbo, despite briefly leaving the show in 1974 over a late paycheck from the studio, according to the Toledo (Ohio) Blade newspaper. Read more
2010: Peter Quaife, English musician who was a founding member of and bassist for the Kinks, dies of kidney failure at 66.
The Kinks were never as popular in the U.S. as they were in Great Britain. This might be partly due to the fact that in 1965, at the peak of the British Invasion, they were banned by the American Federation of Musicians from performing live in the U.S. Likely this was because of an incident in Australia, when Ray Davies insulted drummer Mick Avory onstage and Avory responded by smashing the high-hat over Davies' head (the singer would need 16 stitches). Fighting among band members was common – Quaife later claimed he got in a fistfight with Davies in a taxicab when Davies grew angry at him for whistling a Beatles tune. Read more
2009: Ed McMahon, U.S. announcer and game show host known best as the sidekick to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, dies at 86.
McMahon gained fame as the longtime announcer of The Tonight Show, where he served as Johnny Carson's sidekick and biggest booster … but it's hard to say he was known best for any one show. Many fans knew and loved him best for a show that presaged today's talent competitions. Long before American Idol and The Voice, there was Star Search, hosted by McMahon from its 1983 debut through its cancellation in 1995. Read more
2007: Rod Beck, U.S. Major League Baseball reliever who notched almost 300 saves during his career, dies at 38.
With long hair framing a menacing stare and an aggressive arm swing before delivering a pitch, the outgoing right-hander was a memorable baseball personality and a three-time All-Star who twice led the National League in saves, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. He spent the first seven of his 13 major league seasons with the San Francisco Giants. Read more
2006: Aaron Spelling, U.S. television producer who was well-known for his numerous hit television series including Charlie's Angels, The Mod Squad and Beverly Hills 90210, dies of stroke complications at 83.
For four decades, the name Aaron Spelling and television went hand in hand. He produced so many TV favorites – out of more than 200 series and specials in total – that we couldn't even begin to list them here. And even harder than listing them all would be choosing one favorite. How would we ever pick just one great Spelling show? Read more
1998: Maureen O'Sullivan, Irish actress who appeared in many films but was known best for her role as Jane opposite Johnny Weissmuller in the Tarzan series, who also was the mother of actress Mia Farrow, dies of complications from heart surgery at 87.
One of her big early roles was playing Jane opposite a loincloth-clad Johnny Weissmuller in 1932's Tarzan the Ape Man, a film that also marked the debut of Cheeta the chimpanzee. O'Sullivan reputedly didn't get along too well with the chimp, referring to him privately as "that ape son of a (bleep)." It didn’t stop her working with the primate on other projects, though, and over the next 20 years she would appear in Tarzan and His Mate (which featured a nude swimming scene), Tarzan Escapes, Tarzan Finds a Son!, Tarzan's Secret Treasure and Tarzan's New York Adventure. Read more
1997: Betty Shabazz, U.S. civil rights advocate who was the wife of Malcolm X, dies at 63.
1995: Jonas Salk, U.S. medical researcher and virologist who developed the first successful polio vaccine, dies of heart failure at 80.
1980: John Laurie, Scottish actor who appeared in many films including movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock and Laurence Olivier, dies of emphysema at 83.
1973: Fay Holden, British-born U.S. actress remembered best for her role as Mickey Rooney's mother in the Andy Hardy film series, dies of a heart attack at 79.
1969: Stanley Andrews, U.S. actor who appeared in hundreds of movies and television shows, including a regular role as the host of the TV series Death Valley Days, dies of cancer at 77.
1965: Mary Boland, U.S. character actress whose movie appearances included The Women and Pride and Prejudice, dies of a heart attack at 83.
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