Jay Leno (born James Douglas Muir Leno) was the host of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for 20 years before passing the torch to Jimmy Fallon. He is also a comedian which keeps him busy traveling for this stand-up shows all over the world.
Jay Leno has an Italian inheritance
Leno was born on April 28, 1950, in New Rochelle, New York. He was born to mother Catherine and father Patrick Leno. His mother was originally born in Scotland and came to the United States at the young age of eleven. His father was born in New York to Italian immigrants.
His father worked as a insurance salesman in New York. Leno attended the Andover High school and then joined Emerson College located in Boston, M.A. He graduated in 1973 with an undergraduate degree in Bachelors of Arts in speech therapy. During college, he would perform comedy gigs and stand-ups at the local clubs for extra money.
Jay Leno succeeded Johnny Carson as the Tonight Show host
Jay moved to L.A from Boston to further his career. His first job in L.A was writing for the television show Good Times. In 1977, Leno was invited to The Tonight Show where he performed a comedy routine.
His name became popular, which eventually led to him hosting his own TV comedy special Jay Leno and the American Dream. He also made several guest appearances on late-night TV shows including Late Night with David Letterman.
In 1987, Leno was a regular substitute for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. When it was finally time for Carson to retire, the showrunners made Jay the host of the show. It was speculated that Letterman who had been hosting Late Night with David Letterman would be chosen as Carson’s successor but NBC decided Letterman and Leno should have their own shows.
Leno was offered a contract of $40 million for five years in 1993 which was increased to $100 million after the previous contract expired in 1998.
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Jay Leno’s feud with Conan O’Brien
In 2009, end of his contract with NBC required Leno to pass the position of hosting The Tonight Show to Conan O’Brien. At the time Leno was open to the idea of retiring and signed the contract consciously. Leno was still the number one host on TV which made his departure from NBC tougher.
It was not clear if he would move to another network after his contract but he stayed with NBC as the host of the new program The Jay Leno Show.
Unfortunately, both Leno’s show and Conan’s show could not attract many viewers and the ratings dropped. NBC was desperate to keep both its shows on top and tried to move Conan’s show to a post-midnight slot. It was either that or Conan would have to leave NBC and he did just that.
He was paid a total of $33 million and his staff was paid $12 million to quit the show. Jay Leno was back on TV as the host of The Tonight Show.
Jay Leno retires only to star in a TV and Web series: Jay Leno’s Garage
As we all know Jay Leno is a car fanatic with two hundred and eighty-six cars in his collection. In 2014, after his contract ended he quit his job and Jimmy Fallon took over. He then hosted his own web series called Jay Leno’s Garage which became a TV series for CNBC in 2015.
He now lives with his beautiful wife Mavis Nicholson Leno in L.A. Jay had an older brother, Patrick Leno, who passed away at the age of 62 due to cancer. It is said that Leno has solely lived on the earnings from his comedy shows and has left the money he earned from hosting The Tonight Show untouched.