Good night Col. Ed McMahon, Marine Corps pilot, war vet

Ed McMahon, the legendary sidekick on the Tonight Show who made famous the phrase, "Heeere's Johnny!" has died in southern California.

Col. McMahon, USMC (Ret.), like many Hollywood celebrities of his era, was a military veteran. He volunteered for service during World War II. He went through flight training at various bases, but the end of the war came before he was deployed overseas.

In the 1950s, McMahon was recalled by the Marines to serve in Korea. There, he was an F-9 Panther pilot and flew 85 combat missions as an artillery spotter, according to an Army website.

McMahan was the Tonight Show announcer for 30 years. He also announced for Jerry Lewis's Labor Day telethons and pitched for television's Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.

In the 21st Century,the everyman-celebritycontinued to participate in military ceremonial events, including an appearance in 2003 (above)with then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Peter Pace, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Korean armistice, and a 2006 Valentine's Day concert event for the troops taped at the Pentagon.

The living connections to the golden era of Hollywood stars who served in World War II is quickly coming to a close. A few remain. Paul Newman just died. Others remain. Ernest Borgnine comes to mind. So does Tony Bennett.

For you young whippersnappers, this may seem as old as the pyramids, but so many movie stars - like so many Americans, in general - wore the uniform when the entire country was called to duty for World War II.

If you need a closer generational connection, McMahon hosted Star Search, which gave you Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Ray Romano, among others.

Ed McMahon was 86 years old.