BRITNEY SPEARS has paid tribute to late great U.S. TV personality ED MCMAHON for helping to give the TOXIC singer her ‘first shot’ at fame.

The former Tonight Show sidekick passed away on Tuesday morning (23Jun09) at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long battle with poor health.

Spears, who appeared on McMahon’s talent show Star Search when she was a child, says, “He is responsible for giving so many artists their first shot including myself.

“(He’s) a wonderful man who will be greatly missed.”

Ironically, at the height of her fame, Spears lived just around the corner from McMahon.