Jay Leno met the love of his life, Mavis Leno (née Nicholson), in 1976, but who is his philanthropist wife? Keep reading to find out everything we know about his marriage! 

Who Is Jay Leno’s Wife, Mavis Leno?

Mavis is known for her philanthropic work. The activist supports a variety of causes from education to women’s rights. Mavis currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Feminist Majority Foundation and assumed her role of Chair of the Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan in 1997, according to her biography.


In 2002, the Feminist Majority Foundation was recognized worldwide and nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. 

How Did Jay Leno and Mavis Leno Meet?

The former Tonight Show host met his wife at the beginning of his career in January 1976. 

“At the time I thought, Holy s—t! That comedian is gorgeous! I had gone to the Comedy Store with my girlfriend because I was writing comedy with some partners,” she told the Los Angeles Times in September 2014. 

While friends had initially convinced her to visit the Comedy Store in hopes she’d meet people that could help her out with a job, “The first time I went, they sat us front row center,” she continued. “And there was Jay.”

When Did Jay Leno and Mavis Leno Get Married?

Jay and Mavis married in 1980. The comedian joked to the L.A. Times that the idea of marriage stemmed from health concerns. 

“I had this insurance policy, and I thought if something happened to me, my girlfriend wouldn’t be covered,” he told the publication. “But if we’re married, we’re covered, so … We might as well get married. Not the most romantic.”

Do Mavis Leno and Jay Leno Have Any Kids?

Mavis and Jay share no kids. In a 2014 interview with the Washington Post, Mavis took full credit for the couple’s decision not to have kids and compared her relationship with Jay to the 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners

“I would see a young woman who was very attractive and a thousand times smarter, and she’s living in this little tenement hovel with her husband, Ralph, and then this Ed Norton, who has an even hotter wife,” Mavis explained in the conversation. “These men spend all their time talking about what a drag the wives are and asking how can they get away from them. It’s perfectly obvious the women are the ones trapped.”

“I remember telling my mother when I was 7 or 8 that I was never going to get married or have children,” she continued. “To me, this is the way women get caught.”

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