HomeEntertainmentHappy Birthday Jay Leno: Celebrating the TV Icon’s Best Moments

Happy Birthday Jay Leno: Celebrating the TV Icon’s Best Moments

by Jennifer Shea
Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Comedian, actor and former late show host Jay Leno is turning 71 today, and he’s doing well. The car enthusiast just took some time out from shooting his sixth season of the CNBC show “Jay Leno’s Garage” to buy a sprawling oceanside mansion in Rhode Island.

“I have no idea if this was a smart business move,” Leno told Forbes last week of his new digs. “I bought Seafair because I liked it. The thing about me is I don’t buy things for investment. I buy things because I like them, and if they go down in value, I still like them.”

The genial gearhead is showing no signs of slowing down as he ages, with a garage full of fast cars and a full work schedule. And this upcoming weekend, Leno is slated to appear on the telethon “Saving Lives Sunday,” a streaming benefit for United Hatzalah of Israel.

In the meantime, in no particular order, here are some of Leno’s best moments over the years as he celebrates his 71st.

Jay Leno Goes Go-Karting with Paul Newman in 2005

When Hollywood legend and Oscar winner Paul Newman appeared on “The Tonight Show” in 2005, the two got to talking cars. Naturally, Leno had to take on Newman, a racing enthusiast, in a go-kart race around the studio.

“Are you a competitive person, by any chance?” Leno asked.

“No,” Newman replied.

“Well, I am, and I’m gonna kick your a–! Let’s go!” Leno said, getting up.

“Pray for your life,” Newman advised Leno as they strapped into their go-karts.

Leno Faces Off Against Jimmy Kimmel in 2010

After Leno went back to “The Tonight Show,” he had his late show competitor, Jimmy Kimmel, on to play “10 at 10.” But Kimmel quickly turned the tables on Leno, and the good-natured host had to submit to some ridicule from Kimmel. However, Kimmel did reveal that his ideal interview would be “you and Conan, together.”

Leno Gets Martha Stewart to Put Sacha Baron Cohen to Bed in 2006

Leno had the great idea to put Martha Stewart and Sacha Baron Cohen together for a bit. Stewart thought she was teaching Cohen how to make a bed. Cohen thought Leno was giving Stewart to him. Cohen asked where to tie up Stewart’s arms and legs. Stewart didn’t miss a beat. “On the four posts,” she deadpanned.

Watch a compilation of Leno’s best moments on “The Tonight Show” here: