Jimmy Fallon made his mark as a versatile improv comedian on “Saturday Night Live,” then moved on to a short-lived film career before settling in as an admirable late-night TV host. Here’s a look at some of his career highlights. (Jennifer S. Altman / For the Times)
Born Sept. 19, 1974, James Thomas “Jimmy” Fallon started his career as a stand-up comedian and studied at the Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles. In 2001, he released his comedy album “The Bathroom Wall” to mixed reviews. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
In 1998, he auditioned for “Saturday Night Live,” where made a name for himself during his stint on the long-running sketch show between 1998 and 2004.
Pictured here: Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek hosts another installment of “Celebrity Jeopardy” with contestants Robin Williams (Jimmy Fallon), Catherine Zeta Jones (Lucy Liu) and Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond).(Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC)
Jimmy Fallon joins “SNL” writer Tina Fey for the Weekend Update news segment of the show in 2002. (MARY ELLEN MATTHEWS, AP)
Jimmy Fallon plays Bob in Woody Allen’s film “Anything Else,” starring Christina Ricci as his girlfriend and Jason Biggs (not pictured). (Brian Hamill / DreamWorks)
Queen Latifah plays a feisty cab driver helping an inept New York City cop (Jimmy Fallon) in the action-comedy “Taxi.” (Kerry Hayes / 20th Century Fox)
Jimmy Fallon appears on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” in 2004. Fallon will take over “The Tonight Show” after the 2014 Winter Olympics. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
Jimmy Fallon comes into his own as a romantic leading man (sort of) for “Fever Pitch,” based on Nick Hornby’s autobiography. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)
In the charming Farrelly Bros. rom-com “Fever Pitch,” Jimmy Fallon plays a devoted Boston Red Sox fan who juggles his relationship with his workaholic girlfriend (Drew Barrymore) with his love of the team. (Darren Michaels / 20th Century Fox)
Jimmy Fallon plays promoter Chuck Wein in “Factory Girl,” a drama about the rise and fall of socialite Edie Sedgwick, starring Sienna Miller as Sedgwick, Jack Huston, Tara Summers, Guy Pearce and Armin Armiri. (Patti Perret / The Weinstein Co. )
Jimmy Fallon voices Dylan in the animated film “Doogal,” which also featured the voice talents of William H. Macy, Whoopi Goldberg and Daniel Tay. In the film, the group bands together to save the world. (The Weinstein Company)
When Conan O’Brien was set to take over “The Tonight Show” from Jay Leno in 2009, Fallon was named his “Late Night” replacement. In this episode of “Late Night,” O’Brien reminds the new host, Fallon, where his seat is.
However, when O’Brien’s new gig declined in ratings, NBC quickly reinstated Leno as host of the franchise. (NBC Universal)
Fallon presented his monologue on the first episode of “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” on March 2, 2009.
“It was an uneven beginning: Fallon booked one of the world’s worst interview subjects, Robert DeNiro, as his first guest, and the acknowledged irony -- DeNiro was asked questions he could answer in a single word -- did not make the interview any better, or funny,” wrote Times TV critic Robert Lloyd. (Dana Edelson / NBC)
“Jimmy Fallon will address his guests as “buddy” or “my friend” or “my man” (as in “My man Dick Cavett is joining us!”),” Times TV critic Robert Lloyd wrote. “He can sing, and dance more than a little, which not all late-night TV hosts can do, and is an impressive mimic and a good storyteller. He feels ‘psyched’ about things that are ‘crazy good’ or ‘awesome’; really crazy good awesome things might ‘blow your pants off.’ He is young enough to get away with a phrase like ‘That’s what I’m talking about’ without sounding ironic or like your Uncle Harry coming on all hep. At 36, conveniently positioned between the incoming freshmen of show business and its graying eminences, he’s a little bit hip-hop and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll. His dead-on impersonations of Neil Young, in which he marries the lyrics of current pop fluff -- ‘Whip My Hair,’ ‘Pants on the Ground’ -- to Young’s early acoustic music perfectly embodies this averaging of the generations.” (Lloyd Bishop / Associated Press)
Roger Ebert, right, is presented the “Person of the Year” Award by Jimmy Fallon at the 14th Webby Awards in New York June 14, 2010. (Charles Sykes / Associated Press)
“Whatever tentativeness Fallon showed when he started hosting has long dissipated, and what he lacks in penetrating insight, he makes up in enthusiasm. He loves comedy, movies, music and video games (technology gets the attention here that other talk shows deny it) and loves them like a fan, which means that his questions are sometimes weightless -- asking Keith Richards to name his favorite Rolling Stones album cover, for example. That does not mean they don’t get interesting results,” Times TV critic Robert Lloyd wrote in 2010. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
“Hosting the Emmys has been a dream of mine ever since they told me I was doing it,” Fallon said when he was announced for the new gig. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
“There was a spring in the step of the 62nd Emmys that’s been missing from awards shows so generally and for so long that some of us had begun to believe it had been permanently unsprung,” wrote Times TV critic Mary McNamara. “Ambitious, energetically hilarious, and, most important, almost seamlessly constructed, this year’s telecast actually did what the Emmys are supposed to do -- celebrate television.
“This year’s host, Jimmy Fallon, took full and marvelous advantage of it. He played to his own strengths as well -- the art of the wide-eyed amiable jab, some wicked guitar-accompanied transitions and a surprisingly good Green Day.” (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Jimmy Fallon won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2010 for “Late Night’s” creative achievement in interactive media - nonfiction. In 2012, he won an Emmy for guest actor in a comedy series for “SNL.” And in 2013, he won the comedy album Grammy Award for “Blow Your Pants Off.” (Mark Seliger / Associated Press )
Jimmy Fallon fools around on the Golden Globes red carpet with “The Muppets” and “How I Met Your Mother” star Jason Segel. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Jimmy Fallon took his music covers and impressions to a whole new level on this January 2012 episode of “Late Night.” He created TeBowie, a hybrid of football phenom Tim Tebow and musician David Bowie. Fallon gave Bowie’s “Space Oddity” the “Late Night” treatment as a conversation between the religious NFL quarterback and God, singing “This is Jesus Christ to Tim Tebow / Please leave me alone / Don’t you know my day of rest is Sunday? / And I’m sick of watching all these Bronco games.” (Lloyd Bishop / NBC)
A framegrab shows the introductory title to “Downton Sixbey,” the “Late Night” spoof of the beloved aristocratic soap “Downton Abbey” that debuted in April 2012 and has had a few installments since. The spot-on spoof of the dishy costume drama re-creates the behind-the-scenes drama at “Late Night.” “Sixbey” is a reference to Studio 6B, where the show tapes. Fallon, of course, stars as a Lord Grantham-esque nobleman, alongside show announcer Steve Higgins as his loyal, if not exactly nimble, valet and A.D. Miles in a cross-dressing role as the Dowager Countess. There’s even a scheming Irish maid and an aspirational cue-card writer who bears a striking resemblance to Thomas. (latenightwithjimmyfallon.com)
Fallon appeals to a young audience by getting young Hollywood guests like singer Justin Bieber. On this episode, Fallon focused quite a bit on the Internet sensation’s philanthropy rather than his questionable newsmaking activities. Bieber then went on to play three-point shootout with Fallon, where he revealed that Chuck Norris is his father, said his abs are his musical guest and somehow managed to make out with a mannequin. Young Hollywood, indeed. (Theo Wargo / Getty Images)
Jimmy Fallon dresses as a mom, left, to dance with first lady Michelle Obama during her appearance on “Late Night” on Feb. 22, 2013. Obama returned to the show to promote her “Let’s Move” campaign and to perform in a skit called “Evolution of Mom Dancing.” (Lloyd Bishop / Associated Press)
“The Colbert Report” host Stephen Colbert and Fallon have been guests on one each other’s shows, cultivating the ongoing joke they would be Eternal Enemies For Six Months after having been Best Friends Forever For Six Months. (Theo Wargo / Getty Images)
Jimmy Fallon frequently performs duets with his guests. Here, “Spring Breakers” star and singer Selena Gomez and Fallon perform “Mario Kart Duet” dressed as the video game characters. (Theo Wargo, Getty Images)
Jimmy Fallon and singer Justin Timberlake made headlines with their “History of Rap” musical collaborations. The first medley of rap songs through the ages debuted in September 2010 and has had three more installments since. The crooner staged a musical takeover of the show called “Timberweek” during the week of March 11 to 15, 2013. Timberlake’s takeover led up to the release of his studio album “The 20/20 Experience.” The duo capped off the five-night residency with the highly anticipated performance of “History of Rap 4.”(Theo Wargo / Getty Images)
At the suggestion of a viewer, Justin Timberlake teamed up with “The Ragtime Gals” -- “Late Night’s” in-house barbershop quartet, known for their covers of raunchy songs like “It Wasn’t Me” -- on the barbershop quartet version of the infectious 2006 hit single “SexyBack.” The song was part of Timberlake’s week-long musical takeover of the show. (Lloyd Bishop / NBC)
“The Voice” judge Blake Shelton, left, Jimmy Fallon, writer Chris Tartaro and Nick Offerman of “Parks & Recreation” perform and all-clucking version of The Lumineers’ song “Ho Hey” for Easter as “The Chickeneers.” (Youtube)
On April 3, 2013, NBC ended weeks of speculation and confirmed that Jimmy Fallon would succeed Jay Leno as host of “The Tonight Show” in spring 2014. Although Leno was still the most-watched late-night television host, NBC made the move because it thought Fallon would do better with younger viewers in the years to come.
“We are purposefully making this change when Jay is No. 1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was No. 1,” said NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke. “Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent, and this is his time.”
In a statement Leno congratulated Fallon and said, “I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy. If you need me, I’ll be at the garage.” (Andrew Eccles / NBC)