Jay Leno. biography
Jay Leno was born James Douglas Muir Leno on April 28, 1950, in New Rochelle, New York and raised in Andover, Massachusetts. Leno was always searching for the next laugh throughout his childhood, to the extent that his fifth grade teacher was forced to address the problem on his report card, saying, "If Jay spent as much time studying as he does trying to be a comedian, he'd be a big star."
Leno used his teacher's advice when he attended Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, graduating with a B.A. in speech therapy, while dabbling in stand-up comedy at local venues. Ensuing his graduation in 1973, Leno moved to Los Angeles to focus on his comedic career and became a writer for the TV sitcom Good Times (1974) as well as the opening act for comedians Johnny Mathis and Tom Jones.
In 1977, Leno made his stand-up debut on The Tonight Show and came to be a regular guest on the comedy show The Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Show (1977). Leno's career began to pick up speed throughout the 1980s, hosting his first-ever TV special Jay Leno and the American Dream (1986) and becoming a permanent guest host on The Tonight Show.
Following Johnny Carson's abrupt decision to retire in 1992, many speculated that David Letterman would replace the beloved talk show host since his show succeeded The Tonight Show. NBC ultimately chose the unequivocal character Leno as the new host of The Tonight Show. Despite a rocky transfer of hosting power, Leno turned out to be an even bigger success and immediately assumed the leader position of late-night ratings. By 1993, NBC extended his contract past five years, at $40 million, followed by his first Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series in 1995. Three years later, NBC once again renewed his contract for an additional five years, bumping the cash amount up to $100 million.
In 2003, Leno made a surprising announcement to leave The Tonight Show with Jay Leno by 2010, followed by the network's decision to replace him with his fellow NBC host Conan O'Brien, from Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993). In 2009, however, NBC announced that Leno would host the newly renovated program, The Jay Leno Show, which had a primetime slot at 10 p.m. While the show produced extremely low ratings following its premier in September 2009, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien had similar results. NBC decided to reinstate Leno's deteriorating show to late night and relocate The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien to an after midnight timeslot. Conan and his followers, known as Team CoCo, were not pleased with the decision and later created his own competing talk show on TBS, called Conan (2010).
In August 2010, Leno created a media frenzy when he took a large pay cut in response to NBC's plan to terminate around 20 jobs in hopes of salvaging many of his Tonight Show staffers' jobs.
Jay Leno and Mavis Nicholson first laid eyes on each other in 1976 when she was watching him perform at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Reportedly, Mavis was laughing at every word that left his mouth, ultimately grabbing Leno's full-undivided attention. During a 2001 interview with Larry King, Leno elaborated on how he introduced himself to the pretty lady, saying:
"... Assuming, sooner or later, most women have to go to the bathroom, as soon as I got off stage I ran and just stood by the ladies room until eventually she came by ... I mean, as soon as I saw her, I kind of figured, well, this looks good, she'll stay in line. But she denies the fact that I told my friend three days after we met, "Well, I'm probably going to marry that girl."
The two got married on November 30, 1980 at a friend's home and have yet to have any children. They currently live in Los Angeles.