Jimmy Fallon

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7 mins read

James Thomas Fallon was born September 19, 1974 and is an American comedian, actor, television host, singer, writer, and producer. He is known for his work in television as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and as the host of late-night talk show The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and before that Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He grew up with an interest in comedy and music, moving to Los Angeles at 21 to pursue opportunities in stand-up comedy.

James Thomas Fallon was born in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York on September 19, 1974, the son of Gloria (néeFeeley) and James W. Fallon. He is of German, Irish, and Norwegian descent. His paternal grandmother, Luise Schalla, was a German immigrant from Osterholz-Scharmbeck, while one of his maternal great-grandfathers, Hans Hovelsen, was a Norwegian immigrant from Fredrikstad. Another set of great-great-grandparents were Thomas Fallon, an Irishman from County Galway, and Louisa Stickever, the daughter of an Irishman born in France and his Irish wife. 

A Vietnam War veteran, Fallon’s father spent his adolescence singing in street-corner doo-wop groups. Shortly after his son’s birth, he started working as a machine repairman for IBM in Kingston, New York. In preparation, the family relocated nearby to Saugerties, New York. Fallon has described his childhood as “idyllic”, while his parents have been described as overprotective. He and his sister, Gloria, were unable to leave their home and had to ride their bicycles in the backyard. Fallon attended the Roman Catholic school St. Mary of the Snow. He considered being a priest, inspired by his experiences as an altar boy, but became more interested in comedy instead. He spent many nights recording the radio program The Dr. Demento Show on a reel-to-reel recorder, which exposed him to both comedy and music. 

As a teenager, Fallon developed an obsession with the late-night comedy program Saturday Night Live, watching it religiously. He grew up watching the show, viewing “the clean parts” that his parents taped for him. He and Gloria would re-enact sketches with friends. In his teens, he impressed his parents with different impersonations. He was also musically inclined, and started playing guitar at age 13. He would go on to perform comedy and music in contests and shows. By his junior high years, he was labeled a class clown, to his teachers’ dismay, but was also described as “nice and well-mannered”. 

At Saugerties High School, from which he graduated in 1992, he was a performer in most stage productions, and was twice a class social director. He then attended The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, where he was first a computer science major, later switching to communications in his senior year. In May 2009, 14 years after he left college a semester early to pursue a comedy career, he returned to receive his Bachelor of Arts in communications. He was a double headliner that day at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, earning an honorary degree reflecting his achievements and then joining classmates to collect his degree. St. Rose awarded Fallon his diploma after he earned experiential learning credits through a portfolio review of his television work.He was an average student, often taking stand-up gigs on the weekends. Fallon would often board buses from his aunt’s house in Fort Hamilton to Caroline’s Comedy Club in Times Square to perform sets. 

He was commissioned to join NBC’s Saturday Night Live as a cast member in 1998, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Fallon remained on SNL for six years between 1998 and 2004, co-hosting the program’s Weekend Update segment and becoming a celebrity in the process. He left the program for the film industry, starring in films such as Taxi (2004) and Fever Pitch (2005).

Following his film career, Fallon returned to television as the host of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC studios in 2009, where he became well known for his emphasis on music and video games. He moved from that program to become the sixth permanent host of the long-running The Tonight Show in 2014. In addition to his television work, Fallon has released comedy albums and books.

Fallon married film producer Nancy Juvonen, co-owner of production company Flower Films, on December 22, 2007. After meeting on the set of Fever Pitch, the two began dating in May 2007. Fallon proposed in August 2007 at sunset on the dock of Juvonen’s family home in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. They were married four months later. They have two daughters.

On November 4, 2017, Fallon’s mother, Gloria Fallon, died from undisclosed causes at age 68, scheduled tapings of the following week’s Tonight Show episodes were canceled. One week later, Fallon paid tribute to his mother following that night’s monologue, becoming emotional and calling her “the best audience”.