You know Jay Leno as the former host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” but what else do you know about him? Here are five things you might not know about Leno.
1) He was approached to host “Top Gear”
Leno is well known for his love of cars, so when NBC tried to develop an American edition of hugely popular UK car program “Top Gear” in 2008, it was unsurprising that the network approached their late-night star about hosting it. Leno repeatedly turned down the gig, going so far as to detail the reasons why in a column in The Sunday Times. NBC shot a pilot without him, but with Tanner Foust, who would join Rutledge Wood and Adam Ferrara when “Top Gear” US finally launched on History.
2) He’s appeared on pretty much everyone else’s late-night shows
Aside from his long-running gig hosting “The Tonight Show,” Leno guested on the program when it was still hosted by the legendary Johnny Carson; you can check out a clip from 1987 here. He’s also turned up on Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show,” as you can watch with the media player included with this article, Craig Ferguson’s “Late Late Show,” Seth Meyers’ incarnation of “Late Night,” and yes, even “Late Night with David Letterman.”
3) He manages his money very well
Leno has been noted in various publications, including Business Insider, for having publicly stated that he saved the entirety of his income from hosting “The Tonight Show.” Instead, he supports himself completely off the income from his stand-up comedy gigs, of which he takes an estimated 200 a year, not counting his charity appearances for organizations such as the USO.
4) He’s also had an acting career
While most of his TV and film appearances have come from playing himself, Leno has occasionally dabbled in acting, particularly at the beginning of his career. He played different characters in two episodes of “Laverne & Shirley,” called in as ‘Don’ in an installment of “Frasier,” and voiced a recurring superhero in Nickelodeon’s “The Fairly OddParents.”
5) He’s got a new TV show
Since 2006, Leno has been a host and producer on his own car-oriented YouTube program, appropriately named “Jay Leno’s Garage.” After the success of a CNBC special broadcast last year, the network is turning the web show into a weekly prime time series beginning sometime this year. The move keeps Leno in the NBC family, which he’s been a part of for almost 30 years.