Alan Colmes, a veteran radio and cable TV host best known for his lengthy Fox News on-air combat with Sean Hannity, passed away after an apparently brief illness.

Bill Hemmer of Fox News announced the passing on Fox, which followed with a tribute from Hannity, his former longtime co-host on Hannity & Colmes, and an online tribute.

Hannity called him "one of life's most decent, kind and wonderful people you'd ever want to meet."

Hannity and Colmes, who was 66, were paired on Fox's "Hannity & Colmes," a primetime mainstay during Fox's early years, and served as an amicable liberal piñata in a sea of conservatism.

The duo lasted an impressive 12 years before Colmes exit in 2008. Hannity evolved into a solo fixture on both Fox and syndicated radio, while Colmes continued on elsewhere, albeit with a lower profile.

"One of my favorite people — not just one of my favorite liberals," emailed Laura Ingraham, the radio talk host and Fox analyst. "A class act through and through, a man with a sense of humor and a great heart. Loved Alan."

And Joe Conason, editor of the National Memo and a frequent liberal presence on cable TV, said, "He was a nice, bright guy and a good sport — he tried to uphold journalistic values on Fox, not a rewarding job when you work with an abject propagandist like Hannity."