LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Comedian Jay Leno ends his 17-year run as host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” on Friday, handing over the program to Conan O’Brien before returning in the fall with a new, prime-time venture called “The Jay Leno Show.”
Following is a timeline of Leno’s career.
1973: Graduates from Boston’s Emerson College with a degree in speech therapy.
1977: Makes his TV debut as a stand-up comic on “The Merv Griffin Show.”
1977: Makes his first appearance on “The Tonight Show” as a comic.
1977: Appears as a regular on CBS’ “The Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. Show.”
Late 1970s: Goes on the road as the opening act for Johnny Mathis, Tom Jones and John Denver.
1982: Begins to appear on NBC’s “The Late Show With David Letterman.”
1987: Along with Garry Shandling, is anointed co-substitute host on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson.” Shandling soon drops out to do his own cable TV show, leaving Leno as heir apparent.
1989: Publishes “Headlines: Real but Ridiculous Samplings From America’s Newspapers.”
1992: Takes the host’s desk at “The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno.”
1999: Begins writing the column “Jay Leno’s Garage” for Popular Mechanics.
2001: Along with his wife, Mavis, donates $100,000 to the Feminist Majority’s campaign to stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan.
2001: Auctions off a Harley-Davidson motorcycle signed by his celebrity guests for about $360,000 to help victims of the September 11 attacks. Will do the same for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
2004: Signs a new contract with NBC through 2009. Conan O’Brien will replace him after that.
2006: Becomes involved in developing biodiesel and the EcoJet concept car, a turbine-powered car, in collaboration with GM.
2007-08: During the Writers Guild of America strike, is accused of violating WGA guidelines by writing his own monologue for “The Tonight Show.”
December 8, 2008: Agrees to new deal with NBC for “The Jay Leno Show,” a one-hour program at 10 p.m. five nights a week beginning September 2009.
May 29: Tapes the final episode as host of “The Tonight Show.” Scheduled guests include Mel Gibson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.