After 22 years of coming into the homes of millions, Jay Leno said goodbye to The Tonight Show yesterday, Feb. 6, with an emotional episode full of surprises.
For Jay’s send-off, the show formally booked Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks—both stars have special significance to the recently retired talk show host. Garth is one of Jay’s favorite artists, and happens to be semi-retired (he only appears at his Vegas residency) but made an exception for the farewell episode.
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Billy is extra special, not only because he’s a close friend of the 63-year-old, but also because he was Jay’s first Tonight Show guest in May 1992.
To send his friend off air—“for real this time”—he prepared a musical number with some major stars!
The musical ensemble featured Kim Kardashian, Chris Paul, Jack Black, Carol Burnett, Oprah Winfrey, Jim Parsons and Sheryl Crow, who recreated “So Long Farewell” from The Sound of Music.
One of our favorite moments came when Mrs. Kanye West “sang” her line: “So long, farewell, last night I told my folks and now I won’t be the butt of Leno’s jokes!”
LOL! And at least Nori can still get some musical inclination from her dad!
Even stars who weren’t there managed to say goodbye to Jay in a special—and of course—comedic way! The staff put together a video of stars telling Jay what he should do next, and huge names such as Barack Obama, Miley Cyrus, Olivia Wilde, Steve Carrell, Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon, Martha Stewart, Kevin Hart, Charlie Sheen and more were there to offer their advice.
The most touching suggestion came from Jimmy Fallon, who will be taking over hosting duties on The Tonight Show at the end of the month.
“Hey Jay, it’s me Jimmy. I just want to say thank you for all the great advice you’ve given me and I really appreciate the phone calls… you taking the time means the world to me,” he said, with tears in his eyes. “I wanted to let you know that if a big story ever breaks and you have your head full of jokes and you have to get it out there, you can always come home and tell them on The Tonight Show. Thank you.”
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Jay’s own goodbye—in which he thanked his fans and quoted Johnny Carson—was also incredibly emotional.
“I want to thank you guys. You folks have been just incredibly loyal,” he said, fighting back tears. “I am the luckiest guy in the world.”