Jay Leno Quits 'The Tonight Show': Comedian Bids Tearful Goodbye as Jimmy Fallon Takes Over

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By IBTimes Staff Reporter | February 7, 2014 10:16 PM EST

Veteran television host and comedian Jay Leno bid goodbye to "The Tonight Show" on Thursday, describing the stint as "the greatest 22 years of my life." The 63-year-old was seen trying to hold back tears on his final appearance on the show.

Reuters
Late night talk show hosts Jay Leno (L) and Jimmy Fallon pose backstage at the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, January 13, 2013.

Leno, who joined "The Tonight Show" in 1992, had quit the show in 2009 before returning to replace Conan O'Brien, a year later. He made fun at his own earlier exit in his final episode, saying: "I don't like goodbyes, NBC does."

"I am the luckiest guy in the world. This is tricky," said an emotional Leno. He added that the crew of "The Tonight Show" has become his family, as he was almost without a family after the death of his parents and brother.

"The first year of this show I lost my mom; the second year I lost my dad. Then my brother died and after that I was pretty much out of family. The folks here became my family," stated Leno. "When people say to me, 'Hey, why don't you go to ABC, why don't you go to Fox?' I didn't know anybody over there. These are the only people I know."

Billy Crystal, who was Leno's first guest in 1992, came to the last show as well. He called on celebrities like Jack Black, Kim Kardashian, Carol Burnett and Oprah Winfrey to pay a musical tribute to Leno.

"Jay, you've made a whole lot of jokes about me over the years, but don't worry, I'm not upset," US President Barack Obama said, in a pre-taped message. "Hope you have a warm coat, funnyman."

Meanwhile, Mark Walberg said: "Why would I give a (expletive) about what he does. He's a grown man."

Several big personalities like Kevin Bacon, Steve Carell, Bob Costas, Bill Maher, Matt Damon, Kevin Hart, Charlie Sheen and Dana Carvey also spoke on what Leno should take up next.

"The Tonight Show" will return to New York with Jimmy Fallon, 39, after NBC had moved it to California with previous host Johnny Carson. Fallon will take over the show on 17 February.

(Photo: Reuters / )
Late night talk show hosts Jay Leno (L) and Jimmy Fallon pose backstage at the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, January 13, 2013.
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