James Thomas Fallon (born September 19, 1974) is an American comedian, television host, and actor. 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.
|Birth name||James Thomas Fallon|
|Born||September 19, 1974|
New York City, U.S.
|Alma mater||College of Saint Rose|
|Notable works and roles|
Fallon grew up with an interest in comedy and music, moving to Los Angeles at 21 to pursue opportunities in stand-up comedy. 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 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 two comedy albums and seven books, mainly aimed at children.
James Thomas Fallon was born on September 19, 1974, in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, the son of Gloria (née Feeley, 1949–2017) and James Fallon (born 1948). His paternal grandmother, Luise Schalla, was a German immigrant from Osterholz-Scharmbeck, and his maternal grandmother's father, 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.
Fallon's father spent his adolescence singing in street-corner doo-wop groups then served in the Vietnam War. Shortly after his son's birth, he started working as a machine repairman for IBM in Kingston, New York. In preparation, the family moved 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 listening to the radio program The Dr. Demento Show, which exposed him to both comedy and music; he often recorded it on a reel-to-reel recorder.
As a teenager, Fallon developed an obsession with the late-night comedy program Saturday Night Live. He watched it religiously, although he was only allowed to see "the clean parts" that his parents taped for him. He and Gloria would re-enact sketches such as "The Festrunk Brothers" with friends. In his teens, he impressed his parents with impersonations, including of actor James Cagney and comedian Dana Carvey. He was 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 but was also described as "nice and well-mannered".
At Saugerties High School, he was a performer in most stage productions and was twice a class social director. He won a young comedian's contest with an impression of Pee-wee Herman. He graduated in 1992 and then attended The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, where he was a computer science major before switching to communications in his senior year. He was an average student. On weekends, he would perform stand-up comedy. Fallon would often board buses from his aunt's house in Fort Hamilton to perform sets at Caroline's Comedy Club in Times Square. He did not graduate, leaving college a semester early to pursue a comedy career.
In May 2009, 14 years later, he returned to receive a Bachelor of Arts in communications, awarded by Saint Rose officials who granted him experiential learning credits for his television work. He joined his classmates at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center to collect his degree.
Fallon dropped out of the College of Saint Rose a semester shy of a degree in communications in 1995 to move to Los Angeles and pursue comedy full-time. He secured a manager and got bookings by the age of 21. He often did stand-up at the Improv, earning $7.50 per set, and he joined classes with the Groundlings, an improv comedy troupe. He appeared in the feature film The Scheme (originally entitled The Entrepreneurs). His one line in the 1997 film Father's Day was cut, but he can still be seen in the background. In 1998, Fallon appeared briefly on the show Spin City in the second season as a man selling photographs.
He remained fixated on joining Saturday Night Live. After two years of working with the Groundlings, he auditioned for the program in 1997, but was unsuccessful. When he was cast in a pilot presentation for The WB, Fallon made sure to include a clause in his contract specifying that if he were to join SNL he would be released from his contract. His manager sent videotapes to Marci Klein and Ayala Cohen, producers for SNL.
This was my ultimate goal. If I ever cut into a birthday cake and made a wish, I would wish to be on SNL. If I threw a coin into a fountain, I would wish to be on SNL. If I saw a shooting star, I would wish to be on SNL. ... I remember saying to myself, 'If I don't make it on [the show] before I'm 25, I'm going to kill myself.' It's crazy. I had no other plan. I didn't have friends, I didn't have a girlfriend, I didn't have anything going on. I had my career, that was it.
Fallon landed his second audition at the age of 23. At the "notoriously difficult audition," he was told by several people that creator Lorne Michaels almost never laughed during auditions. He feared being outshined by the comic before him, who came armed with an arsenal of props. But Fallon went onstage and did well, performing a "celebrity walk-a-thon" with impressions of Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Bill Cosby, and Adam Sandler, an SNL alumnus who had recently left the show. Michaels and others laughed.
Head writer Tina Fey, who was in the room, later said, "He's one of two people I've ever seen who was completely ready to be on the show. Kristen Wiig is the other one.... And Jimmy was ready—like, if there had been a show to do that night." He rushed through his original characters in order to arrive at his musical impressions, which he felt were stronger. Three weeks passed, and despite his feeling that he had not gotten the position, he was asked to meet with Michaels at the Paramount lot in Los Angeles. Michaels informed him that they wanted him for the show, and Fallon characterized the moment as being in "slow motion," remarking to Michaels before he left, "I'm going to make you proud."
Saturday Night Live years
Early seasons (1998–2000)
Fallon debuted on Saturday Night Live as a featured player at the beginning of the show's twenty-fourth season in September 1998. He became a star by his fourth episode, when he performed Halloween-themed versions of songs by popular artists, as well as his Sandler impression. Fallon became a celebrity, considered charming by his largely female fan-base, receiving numerous letters from fans, and becoming the subject of numerous fan-sites. He became the program's most featured mimic, doing popular impressions of Robert De Niro, Jerry Seinfeld, and Howard Stern. He also starred as many original characters, including Nick Burns, an IT support nerd, Pat "Sully" Sullivan, one of the Boston Teens with Rachel Dratch, and in Jarret's Room, a fictional webcast hosted by stoner college students Jarret (Fallon) and Gobi (Horatio Sanz). He was promoted to repertory player in his second season.
In his offtime, Fallon released a book comprising e-mail exchanges with his sister Gloria, titled I Hate This Place: A Pessimist's Guide to Life (1999), and filmed a minor role for the film Almost Famous (2000). During their time at SNL, Fallon and Horatio Sanz often drank together. Sanz has described himself and Fallon as "super-functioning alcoholics", and stated, "They say that kind of goes hand in hand with SNL, some kind of substance-abuse issues, because it's so stressful you easily find yourself blowing off steam a lot." For example, on one occasion, they spent a Friday night watching The Strokes perform a midnight show, staying up until the early morning drinking, despite having to do SNL that night. "We actually took what we thought being on SNL was, what people think is awesome about it, and we made it happen," said Sanz, who noted that he and Fallon got in more than a few bar fights.
Later years (2001–2004)
Fallon initially envisioned he would spend three years at SNL, like John Belushi, but he was persuaded to stay on for an additional three when given the reins to Weekend Update (which he would co-host with writer Tina Fey). His co-hosting of Weekend Update increased his profile even more. During this tenure, he formed a close relationship with Michaels, whom he'd consult with on anything from dating to career advice. Fallon called a December 2001 sketch in which he imitates Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger in a mirror opposite Jagger his favorite thing he had done up to that point.
In his later years on SNL, Fallon co-starred in skit titled The Barry Gibb Talk Show alongside musician Justin Timberlake, where the duo portrayed Bee Gees brothers Barry and Robin Gibb. It marked the beginning of a long-running friendship and collaboration with Timberlake.
Fallon became well known for his tendency to break character in sketches, an attribute he himself, as well as Michaels, disliked. It began in the famous "More cowbell" sketch, when Will Ferrell wore a tighter shirt than expected, causing Fallon to crack up. Following this, other cast members would intentionally try to get Fallon to break. Other cast members believed he was attempting to steal the moment, to make the sketch about himself. The joke became near-constant during Fallon's final year on the show. During this time, Fallon parlayed his SNL success into co-hosting the 2001 MTV Movie Awards and 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, and the recording on his debut comedy album, The Bathroom Wall (2002), which was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. He also modeled for Calvin Klein. Fallon was named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 2002, an honor Fallon found embarrassing.
Movie career (2004–2008)
Fallon began to pursue a movie career beginning in 2004. He had spurned most major roles due to lack of time and disinterest in the dozens of scripts he read. He signed on for his first lead role in Taxi, a remake of a French film. Fallon had read the script in the prior years but became more interested when co-star Queen Latifah became attached to the project. He was also attracted to the film's action comedy tone, seeing comparisons with SNL alumnus Eddie Murphy's first big film, 48 Hrs. (1982).
In the fall of 2003, he split his time between shooting the film in Los Angeles and returning to New York City for SNL. Due to these conflicts (and his contract ending), his sixth season at SNL was his last, with Fallon signing off at the conclusion of the show's twenty-ninth season in May 2004.
With big expectations from the studio, Taxi premiered in the fall of 2004 and was a flop with critics and audiences, resulting in Fallon's first failure. 20th Century Fox had already signed him on for his second major role, starring opposite Drew Barrymore in the 2005 romantic comedy Fever Pitch. Fever Pitch did not fare much better than Taxi, receiving mild reviews and tepid box office returns. He met his wife, producer Nancy Juvonen, during production of the film and the two wed in December 2007.
Film offers decreased, with his two chances for major films both considered failures. Subsequently, Fallon went through what he has deemed a "lost period," characterized by a larger-than-usual alcohol consumption and confusion over his next career moves. He wrote a screenplay during this time "about a guy in a goth band who has to pretend to be a country-music star." Following his failure in film, Fallon moved back east to New York, spending "a couple of years aimlessly knocking around."
Prior to leaving SNL, Michaels had mentioned to Fallon that he would be a good fit to take over NBC's Late Night franchise when then-host Conan O'Brien would depart the show to host the long-running Tonight Show in the future. Michaels urged NBC to give Fallon a holding deal in February 2007 so that he couldn't be lured elsewhere.
To prepare for the role of a late-night host, Fallon toured college campuses and comedy clubs for eight months, where he tested out a new, 50-minute routine. He also began watching the comedy of Chevy Chase, Dick Cavett, and Johnny Carson, as well as The Larry Sanders Show. In May 2008, Fallon was announced as the successor to O'Brien's Late Night.
Fallon was considered an odd choice for the job, both by executives at NBC (who "hated" the idea and predicted it to be a failure), and among the general public. This was referenced in an early promo for the series: "You loved him on SNL! You hated him in the movies! Now you're ambivalent."
Back to television and Late Night (2009–2013)
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon premiered in March 2009 to mixed reviews. Producer Michael Shoemaker felt that the show's style solidified when it used Susan Boyle as a joke. While other late-night programs had centered on her appearance, Fallon's Late Night debuted a sketch in which Boyle's emotional performances could "salve any affliction." It was this style of humor, that Adam Sternbergh of New York dubbed "the comedy of unabashed celebration," that led to the program's success.
Fallon proved himself different from other late-night hosts, with more of a reliance on music, dancing, impersonations, and games.
Between Fallon's own musical sensibilities and the recruitment of his house band, hip-hop collective The Roots, his incarnation of Late Night "evolved into the most deeply musical of TV's musical-comedy variety programs," with sketches in which he parodies Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen going viral online. Coincidentally, it was during the Tonight Show debacle that Fallon's show found its footing.
Another component built into the program was its association with social media and the Internet. The first majorly successful online clip was of Fallon and Justin Timberlake performing a "History of Rap." Online interaction and its presence on the show soon became crucial to its success. As of August 2013[update], Fallon was earning a salary of $11 million a year for his work on Late Night.
Fallon also hosted the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards in 2010. In 2012, Fallon released his second comedy album, Blow Your Pants Off, which compiles many of his musical performances on Late Night. The album won a Grammy in 2013 for Best Comedy Album. Discussions for Fallon to take over The Tonight Show began in early 2013.
The Tonight Show (2014–present)
On April 3, 2013, following a period of speculation, NBC announced that Fallon would succeed Jay Leno, following the 2014 Winter Olympics, to become the sixth permanent host of The Tonight Show. Fallon and Leno sang a parody of the song "Tonight" about the Tonight Show together. Fallon's Tonight Show debut on February 17, 2014, on NBC's network engaged 11.3 million viewers.
On September 15, 2016, Fallon hosted Donald Trump on The Tonight Show during the United States presidential election. Following the appearance, Fallon was criticized by some media critics and viewers on social media for the uncontroversial questions he asked of Trump. David Sims, writing in The Atlantic, called the interview an "embarrassment." In response to the criticism, Fallon said to TMZ: "Have you seen my show? I'm never too hard on anyone. We'll have Hillary [Clinton] on tomorrow, and we'll do something fun with her too." Fallon apologized in March 2017 for the interview, saying "I didn't do it to humanize him. I almost did it to minimize him. I didn't think that would be a compliment ... After this happened, I was devastated. I didn't mean anything by it. I was just trying to have fun." He again apologized for the interview in June 2018 on a Hollywood Reporter podcast, saying that he "made a mistake" and added "I did not do it to 'normalize' him or to say I believe in his political beliefs or any of that stuff."
Fallon told David Steinberg on the Showtime series Inside Comedy that as a child he and his sister would imitate Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd's "Wild and Crazy Guys" routines from Saturday Night Live, and that he listened to comedy records, learning to imitate Rodney Dangerfield from them. In 2009 he spoke on the influence of Monty Python when he appeared in the television documentary, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyers Cut).
Fallon is a Roman Catholic. Fallon told the National Public Radio: "I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was – I loved the whole idea of it."
Fallon married film producer Nancy Juvonen, co-owner of production company Flower Films, on December 22, 2007. They met initially on the set of Saturday Night Live but became friends on the set of Fever Pitch. Fallon proposed in August 2007 with a Neil Lane-designed engagement ring, at sunset on the dock of Juvonen's family home in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. They were married four months later. Their daughters, Winnie and Frances Cole, were born in 2013 and 2014 via gestational surrogacy. They have a female English cream Golden Retriever named Gary Frick that has appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He and his family live in Sagaponack, New York.
On June 26, 2015, Fallon suffered a ring avulsion, an injury he suffered by tripping over a rug in his home and trying to break his fall by holding onto a countertop where his wedding ring nearly tore off his finger. He was taken to the emergency room and then sent to a surgeon who performed microsurgery on his finger. Fallon spent 10 days in the ICU before going home. He discussed this on the July 13 episode of the Tonight Show and thanked the doctors and nurses who helped him. As of July 14, 2015[update], he was expecting to spend another eight weeks without any feeling in his finger. In an interview with Billboard magazine in September 2015, Fallon explained that his finger still had limited mobility and that another surgery would be required. He reiterated this point at the 67th Emmy Awards on September 20, 2015, when he appeared in public without his finger bandaged for the first time since the accident.
On November 4, 2017, Fallon's mother, Gloria Fallon, died from undisclosed causes at age 68 at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan. 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."
|2000||Almost Famous||Dennis Hope|
|2002||The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch||Reporter|
|2003||The Scheme||Ray||Filmed in 1998|
|2004||Taxi||Det. Andrew "Andy" Washburn|
|2005||Fever Pitch||Ben Wrightman|
|2006||Arthur and the Invisibles||Prince Betameche (voice)|
|2006||Factory Girl||Chuck Wein|
|2008||The Year of Getting to Know Us||Christopher Rocket|
|2009||Whip It||Johnny Rocket|
|2009||Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard||Prince Betameche (voice)|
|2010||Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds||Prince Betameche (voice)|
|2011||Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star||Himself||Cameo|
|2015||Get Hard||Himself||Uncredited cameo|
|2015||Ted 2||Himself||Uncredited cameo|
|2015||Jem and the Holograms||Himself||Cameo|
|2016||Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping||Himself||Cameo|
|2020||Siempre, Luis||Himself||Documentary film; archive footage from Episode 994 of The Tonight Show|
|2020||The Stand In||Himself|
|1998–2004||Saturday Night Live||Himself / Various||120 episodes|
|1998||Spin City||Photographer||Episode: "The Marrying Men"|
|2001||Band of Brothers||2nd Lt. George C. Rice||Episode: "Crossroads"|
|2001 MTV Movie Awards||Himself (host)||Television special|
|2002||2002 MTV Video Music Awards||Himself (host)||Television special|
|2003||Late Show with David Letterman||Himself (host)||Episode: "June 27, 2003"|
|2005||2005 MTV Movie Awards||Himself (host)||Television special|
|2009–2012||30 Rock||Himself / Young Jack||4 episodes|
|2009–2014||Late Night with Jimmy Fallon||Himself (host)||969 episodes; also writer|
|2009–2010||The Electric Company||Himself||8 episodes|
|2009–2020||Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade||Himself (performer)||Alongside The Roots, 7 episodes|
|2009||Sesame Street||Wild Nature Survivor Guy||Episode: "Wild Nature Survivor Guy"|
|Family Guy||Himself||Episode: "We Love You, Conrad"|
|Gossip Girl||Himself||Episode: "The Grandfather: Part II"|
|2010||62nd Primetime Emmy Awards||Himself (host)||Television special|
|Delocated||Himself||Episode: "Kim's Krafts"|
|2011–2017||Saturday Night Live||Himself (host)||3 episodes|
|2011||Silent Library||Himself||Episode: "Jimmy Fallon/The Roots"|
|2012||iCarly||Episode: "iShock America"|
|2012–2013||Guys with Kids||N/A||17 episodes; also co-creator, writer, and executive producer|
|2014–present||The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon||Himself (host)||Also writer and producer|
|2015–present||Lip Sync Battle||Himself||Episode: "Dwayne Johnson vs. Jimmy Fallon"; also executive producer|
|2015||Louie||Himself||Episode: "A La Carte"|
|The Spoils Before Dying||Detective Kenneth Bluntley||Episode: "The Trip Trap"|
|The Jim Gaffigan Show||Himself||"My Friend the Priest"|
|2016||Maya & Marty||Todd||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2017||74th Golden Globe Awards||Himself (host)||Television special|
|Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday||George Washington||Episode: "4.2"|
|2019||The Boys||Himself||Episode: "The Name of the Game"|
|Only Murders in the Building||Himself||Episode: "To Protect and Serve"|
|2015||Lego Jurassic World||Himself|
|2018||The Jackbox Party Pack 5||Himself (in You Don't Know Jack: Full Stream)|
|The Bathroom Wall||47||—|
|Blow Your Pants Off||
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|"Idiot Boyfriend"||2002||—||—||The Bathroom Wall|
|"Car Wash for Peace"||2007||—||—||N/A|
|"Drunk On Christmas"
(featuring John Rich)
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
- Fallon, Jimmy; Fallon, Gloria (1999). I Hate This Place: The Pessimist's Guide to Life. Warner Books. ISBN 9780446692311.
- Fallon, Jimmy (2005). Snowball Fight!. Dutton Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-0525474562.
- Thank You Notes (Grand Central Publishing, 2011) ISBN 978-0892967414
- Thank You Notes 2 (Grand Central Publishing, 2012) ISBN 978-0892967360
- Fallon, Jimmy (2015). Your Baby's First Word Will Be DADA. Feiwel & Friends. ISBN 978-1250071811.
- Fallon, Jimmy (2017). Everything Is Mama. Feiwel & Friends. ISBN 9781250125842
- Fallon, Jimmy (2019). This Is Baby. Feiwel & Friends. ISBN 978-1250245601.
- Fallon, Jimmy (2020). 5 More Sleeps 'Til Christmas. Feiwel & Friends. ISBN 978-1250266477.
Awards and nominations
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- Carter 2010, p. 132. sfn error: no target: CITEREFCarter2010 (help)
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- No byline (August 29, 2002), "Jimmy Fallon is here on MTV, there on 'SNL' and ...." USA Today.
- Jada Yuan (February 18, 2014). "39 Things You Learn About Jimmy Fallon by Hanging Out With Him". Vulture. New York. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
- Wolk, Josh (October 13, 2000), "2 'LIVE' CREW". Entertainment Weekly. (563):11
- Tara Wanda Merrigan (December 20, 2013). "History of a Bromance: Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake". GQ. Archived from the original on February 10, 2015. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
- Jeanne Marrie Laskas (March 2013). "Jimmy Fallon: The New King of Late Night TV". GQ. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
- Souter, Ericka (June 11, 2001), "talking with...Jimmy Fallon." People. 55 (23):28
- Soriano, Cesar G. (July 23, 2002), "Fallon: He's a 'kinder, gentler' MTV awards host." USA Today
- No byline (May 13, 2002), "Jimmy Fallon." People. 57 (18):173
- Caleb Howe (October 29, 2018). "Lester Holt Dressed up as a Woman in 'Whiteface,' Fallon In Blackface, What Exactly is NBC's Policy?". Mediaite. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
there are videos out there of Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, both of whom work for major networks, doing exactly that. Fallon, in fact, works for NBC now, and the videos show him doing so originally aired on that network
- Joseph A. Wulfsohn (February 5, 2019). "Kimmel, Fallon avoid Ralph Northam controversy in late-night monologues; both have histories using blackface in skits". Fox News. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
Fallon also appeared in blackface during his days on "Saturday Night Live," impersonating Chris Rock in a sketch.
- Steve Head (October 7, 2004). "Interview: Jimmy Fallon". IGN. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
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