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Ed McMahon ill with pneumonia

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ed McMahon, the longtime sidekick to Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” has been hospitalized for nearly a month with pneumonia and other medical problems, a spokesman said on Friday.

Television personality Ed McMahon arrives at the premiere of "The Simpsons Movie" in Westwood, California July 24, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman said McMahon, who turns 86 next week, is currently in the intensive care unit of an undisclosed hospital.

“It’s serious. He’s an 85-year old man with a number of medical issues going on,” Bragman told Reuters.

He said one of McMahon’s medical problems is pneumonia, but he declined to confirm or deny an online report from the TV show “Entertainment Tonight” that the performer also had been diagnosed with bone cancer.

McMahon’s hospitalization follows a difficult year for the veteran TV celebrity, most famous for his nightly “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!” introduction of Carson for 30 years and for his hosting the TV talent show “Star Search.”

He made headlines last summer when he defaulted on a $4.8 million mortgage on his six-bedroom Beverly Hills mansion. He later found a buyer for the house to avoid foreclosure.

McMahon blamed his financial woes on having broken his neck about 18 months earlier, leaving him unable to work. He also sued Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, accusing the hospital of failing to diagnose the neck fracture after he fell and of botching two subsequent spine operations.

He was later sued for not paying a lawyer he hired for his daughter in an unrelated matter.

In April 2003, McMahon settled yet another dispute with several companies he had sued a year earlier for allowing toxic mold to overrun his home and kill his beloved dog. He reportedly reaped $7 million from that settlement.

In addition to his stints on “The Tonight Show” and “Star Search,” McMahon became well-known as the presenter of the American Family Publishing sweepstakes and as a pitchman for numerous commercials, most notably for Budweiser beer.

He also served as the longtime co-host of Jerry Lewis’ annual Labor Day telethon benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association.