Jay Leno (born James Douglas Muir-Leno April 28, 1950) is an American comedian who is best known as the current host of NBC television's long-running variety and talk program The Tonight Show. He has appeared in several films, usually playing himself.
Leno was born in New Rochelle, New York to a Scottish mother who came to the United States as a teenager and an Italian-American father. He grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, and received his Bachelor's degree in Speech therapy from Emerson College in 1973.
When Johnny Carson retired in 1992, Leno became the new permanent host of The Tonight Show.
Leno is not widely known as an actor, but he had a number of small roles early in his career in mostly unsuccessful movies; an exception was a bit part in the more popular film, American Hot Wax.
Since becoming the host of the Tonight Show, Leno has made a number of cameo appearances, usually appearing as a talk show host or making fun of his famous chin. In 1994 he played "Bedrock's Most Wanted Host," along with Cynthia Clemons, in the live-action comedy film The Flintstones. Also in 1994, he played himself in Major League II which starred Charlie Sheen. In 2005, he lent his voice to a talking fire hydrant in the computer animated movie, Robots.
He also appeared as himself, doing Tonight Show monologues regarding the main characters in the films Mr. 3000, Contact, First Daughter, Dave, In & Out, and The Birdcage. In the movie Space Cowboys, he hosted a fictional Tonight Show segment featuring the four astronaut protagonists (played by Clint Eastwood, James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones, and Donald Sutherland) just before their space mission. Later, in a case of life imitating art, the four actors appeared together on The Tonight Show to promote their film.
- On August 6, 2006, Leno appeared as a guest host of Ebert & Roeper in the place of Roger Ebert, who was having medical problems at the time.
- On June 14, 2006, in an episode of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno said he defined his politics as fiscally conservative and socially liberal.
- Leno worked at McDonald's on Main Street in Andover, Massachusetts in the early '70s
- Since 1980, Leno has been married to Mavis Leno, who is known for her work with Afghan women under the Taliban. They have no children, by mutual agreement.
- In late October 2005, Leno told The New York Daily News for an October 31 article that he and rival David Letterman have not spoken to each other in 13 years.
- On February 19, 2006, Leno drove the pace car to start the 2006 Daytona 500, and the 2006 NASCAR season.
- Resides in Beverly Hills, California.
- He suffers from dyslexia.
- Leno voices Cartman's Kitty on the TV show South Park.
- At one point in his life, Leno worked 300 clubs a year.
- Leno has on several occasions made fun of his large chin. Every year on a hot summer day, he broadcasts a sketch where he climbs to the top of the Burbank NBC Studios to use his chin to eclipse the sun, saving the people below from that day's sweltering heat wave.