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The Hollywood Insider Jay Leno Tribute

Photo: Jay Leno

Class Clown

“If Jay spent as much time studying as he does trying to be a comedian, he’d be a big star.” In fifth grade, Jay Leno’s teacher famously wrote this on his report card. If only that teacher knew at the time what would come from Jay Leno’s class-clown ways. Jay Leno is an absolute legend in the comedian and late-night world and has undoubtedly made a household name for himself since he first began working. Comedy isn’t something that Jay Leno just decided to do one day, it is something he works at every day. 

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 A Glimpse Into His Future 

While attending Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, Jay performed stand-up at comedy clubs and even emceed talent shows. Following graduation in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech therapy, Jay moved to Los Angeles.  There, Jay Leno would famously write jokes for the classic TV series ‘Good Times’ alongside fellow future comedy star David Letterman. His early years would be completely full of guest appearances on comedy and late-night shows, even starring as a guest host on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

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Jay Leno – Busiest Comedy Performer

Jay Leno is famously known as one of the busiest comedy performers. He would book over 300 appearances annually. In 1992 his hard work and dedication  paid off as he would be selected by NBC to take over Johnny Carson’s hosting duties on what would then become ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.’ His time serving as host would bring great success, and he didn’t end his hosting duties until 2014, when Jimmy Fallon would famously take his place. His hard work and dedication explain how he deserves his legendary status today.

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He is a Car Fanatic 

Following his exit from ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,’ he would star in his own show called ‘Jay Leno’s Garage.’ The show features Jay Leno’s passion for motor vehicles, and guests go alongside him to test out anything that moves. Jay Leno is a total car and motorcycle fan in his spare time. Some previous guests on the show have included Tim Allen and Jeff Dunham. The show began as a web series but was quickly turned into a television series on CNBC in 2015. He has never sold any of his cars but instead has famously donated several for charity over the years.  

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Multi-Award Winnings and Nominations

From his early beginnings to now, Jay Leno has received multiple nominations and awards for his comedy work, late-night work, and even for just being himself. He has received over 15 Primetime Emmy nominations, even winning one for ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ and one for ‘Jay Leno’s Garage.’ He also has his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame which he received in 2000. He continues to receive nominations for his comedy work, with nominations as recent as 2018. 

He is an Author 

Jay Leno has written and released several books over the years that range from an autobiography to comedy handbooks. He released his autobiography ‘Leading with My Chin’ in 1996, and the book would delve into his life growing up and his overall success as a comedian and late-night talk show host. Other books from Jay Leno include ‘Hot Wheels Cars,’ ‘If Roast Beef Could Fly,’ ‘Headlines,’ ‘50 Cars to Drive,’ ‘More Headlines,’ ‘Jay Leno’s Police Blotter,’ and more. Overall, Jay Leno has proved there’s not much he can’t do and has showcased this through his writings featuring stories about his life. 

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He Stood with Tonight Show Staff

As he continued his work on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, ’ times would prove to take a toll on the staff of the television show as the show mentioned it would be forced to lay off long-time employees. Jay Leno immediately was against the idea of losing loyal staff and insisted that his salary be cut in half in a strong move to keep long-time staff. Though he obviously still made a large chunk of money for his time on the late-night show, it is still pretty amazing that he sacrificed his own salary in support of people he had been around for decades. It is not often that we hear about large-name celebrities taking matters into their own hands to ensure their staff is supported and stays.

He Been Married for Over 40 Years 

Jay and Mavis Leno tied the knot in 1980 and have been together ever since. Mavis Elizebath Nicholson-Leno is a long-time philanthropist and feminist, even serving as the chair for the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan since 1997. Mavis has been mentioned as a strong force and motivation throughout Leno’s career. Mavis Leno has had her share of film-producing work and guest appearances over the years on top of her dedicated philanthropic work. The pair have never had children, which has been accounted to a mutual agreement they made long ago. 

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He Never Stopped Working

Though he retired from his long-time spot on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ and began his new show ‘Jay Leno’s Garage,’ this hasn’t stopped him from keeping up his long-time work ethic. It is reported that he continues to do around 200 live performances annually on top of his continued work with charities. One thing about Leno is though we might age by society’s standards, that doesn’t mean we have to live up to those standards. In fact, Jay Leno will next be seen in ‘Bug Therapy’ with Tom Green, directed by Jason Resig.

By Chelsea Black 

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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