Jay Leno’s Best “Tonight Show” Moments

Leno will pass the "Tonight Show" hosting torch to Fallon when "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" premieres February 17, 2014 on NBC. Lets take a look back at some of Leno's career highlights.

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Actress Carol Burnett, singer Sheryl Crow, actor Jack Black, basketball player Chris Paul, host Jay Leno, actor Jim Parsons, Kim Kardashian, and Oprah Winfrey sang a farewell song to Jay Leno on his last episode of the "Tonight Show" on February 6, 2014.
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When Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show a feud began between Leno and David Letterman. Letterman was long believed to be the man in line to take over the show, but Leno was ultimately chosen for the job after guest hosting many times.
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Ain't nothin' but a hound dog. During his first season as host of The Tonight Show, Jay did a gag where he dressed up as Elvis. Leno is a big fan of the King.
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Jay started his career as a stand-up comedian, working gigs in New York and Boston and often playing more than 300 shows a year. In the late '70s and early '80s, he started doing gigs at The Improv in L.A., where he still occassionally shows up to hone his skills.
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Jay succeeded Johnny in 1992 after being a guest host many times.
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Billy Crystal appeared as a guest on the very first The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on May 25, 1992. Crystal also appeared on Leno's presumed second-to-last episode.
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Ratings for Jay Leno's Tonight Show surged when Hugh Grant decided to keep his earlier scheduled interview after he was arrested for lewd conduct with prostitute Divine Brown. Jay famously, and hilariously, asked the actor, who was dating model Elizabeth Hurley at the time: "What were you thinking?"
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In 1995, Jay won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series for The Tonight Show, which he shares with the show's producers.
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Then presidential hopeful and Texas Governor George W. Bush wore an Al Gore mask while Leno wore a George W. Bush mask on the show in October 2000.
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How romantic! New York Giant's defensive back Jason Sehorn proposed to actress Angie Harmon on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in March 2000.
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Spoofing the California energy crisis, Leno held a show using only light from lanterns, candles and glow sticks held by himself, his audience and guests in June 2001.
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Members of FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue team appeared on the show following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Leno delivered a subdued monologue on September 18 after a week-long absence from television.
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Singer Ozzy Osbourne made an unannounced appearance to congratulate Leno on his tenth anniversary as the show's host in April 2002.
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Leno celebrated the Anaheim Angels' World Series victory in October 2002 with members of the team, including Tim Salmon who let him hold the trophy.
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Frequent guest and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his intention to run for governor on the show in August 2003.
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Then Today Show host Katie Couric got the Chippendales treatment on on the show in October 2003. The two hosts switched shows for a day earlier that year.
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Talk about making an entrance. Presidential hopeful Senator John Kerry drove a motorcycle onstage in November 2003.
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A special hour-long edition of The Tonight Show was filmed on the set of Friends in May 2004 to commemorate the end of the sitcom's 10-year run.
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Oprah Winfrey stopped by to help Leno celebrate the show's 50th anniversary in September 2004.
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Members of the Boston Red Sox celebrated their World Series victory on the show in November 2004. Leno ripped open his shirt to reveal a "Papi" t-shirt during their visit.
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Ed McMahon appeared on the show on January 24, 2005 during a tribute to Johnny Carson, who died the day before.
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Actor Tom Cruise poked fun of himself by mimicking his infamous couch performance in June 2005.
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Following Tom Cruise's appearance on the show, actress Lindsay Lohan jumped on the couch on behalf of all women who were not in love and single.
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Surprise guest Adam Sandler made out with an audience member during a taping in September 2005. The actor auctioned off a 10-second make-out session with him to raise money for the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Fund. Leno matched the $250 winning bid.
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In honor of Charlize Theron kissing Shirley MacLaine's bottom during a previous Premiere Magazine event, Dane Cook returned the gesture on the show in October 2005.
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Two grown men and a can of Reddi-Wip... it was bound to happen. Terry Bradshaw and Jay Leno get into a mean food fight.
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Rob Schneider, dressed as Lindsay Lohan, appeared on the show in July 2007.
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Jay has a garage full of vintage cars, which he displays in webisodes on his web site Jay Leno's Garage.
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Writers Guild of America members and supporters picketed outside The Tonight Show studios in February 2008. Leno supported the writers strike by running re-runs for two months.
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The guys of American Idol jump networks to sit on the famous Tonight Show couch.
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A young Miley Cyrus shows Jay some of her smooth moves while a guest on the show.
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President Barack Obama stopped by on March 19, 2009, marking the first appearance by a sitting president on a TV talk show. Obama put himself in an awkward spot when he compared his poor bowling skills to being in the Special Olympics.
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Seventeen years after taking over for Johnny Carson, Jay Leno delivered what was presumed to be his final monologue on the The Tonight Show. Leno moved to prime-time with, The Jay Leno Show
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Jay's final 2009 week as the host of The Tonight Show was star-studded. Arnold Schwarzenegger made his 25th appearance on the show May 25 and presented Jay with a gubernatorial thank you for 17 years with the program.
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Jay poses with the show's "legacy" - the offspring of the show's employees from the past 17 years.
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Conan O'Brien appeared on what many thought would be Jay Leno's last episode of The Tonight Show. Conan took over the show June 1, 2009, but on March 1, 2010 Jay took back the reins.
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A fan holds a sign while waiting in a holding area to watch the premiere of The Jay Leno Show outside NBC Studios in Burbank, Calif.
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Leno opened The Jay Leno Show Sept. 14 with the familiar one-liner laced monologue, a format that hearkened back to his Tonight Show days.
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Kanye West was one of Jay's first guests. He grew silent when asked by Jay what his late mother would have thought of the Taylor Swift incident. "It was just very rude, period," West said. "I'd like to apologize to her in person."
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Jay Z, Rihanna and Kanye West were the first music guests to rock the house on Leno.
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Comedian Jerry Seinfeld opened the show as Leno's first sit-down guest and he dressed the part: the funnyman donned a full tux. "In the '90s, when we quit a show, we actually left," Seinfeld joked.
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After five months, The Jay Leno Show faltered in prime-time and the network decided to move Leno back to Tonight. Conan O'Brien accepted a $33 million (plus $12 million for his staff) deal to leave NBC and The Tonight Show after a heated debate over the future of the show.
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Jay Leno takes the stage for his first monologue following his return to The Tonight Show. "It's good to be home," Leno told the audience.
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Jamie Foxx strikes a pose while being interviewed during the first episode of Jay's return to The Tonight Show.
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Jay Leno returned to The Tonight Show following his short-lived stint with The Jay Leno Show. Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn appeared as one of Leno's first guests following the Vancouver Winter OIympics.
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Jay Leno makes a surprise appearance at Jimmy Fallon's Clean Cut Comedy Tour on December 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Leno will pass the Tonight Show hosting torch to Fallon when "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" premieres February 17, 2014 on NBC. --
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