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Jay Leno Leaves 'Tonight Show' After 22 Years

Posted February 7th, 2014 @ 7:42am by KFBK News

Another chapter in "Tonight Show" history has come to a close.  

Last night, Jay Leno ended his 22-year run as host of NBC's late night talk show.

As Leno bid farewell, he tearfully thanked the audience who contributed to his consistent No. 1 ratings.  

Jay's emotional goodbye also included heartfelt praise for his crew, whom he credits with making him look and sound like a star.

Since taking over the "Tonight Show," Jay's lost his mother, father and brother, but he pointed out that the show's staff had become his new family.  

Those staffers had even kept him from joining other networks when times were tough at NBC.

As for the future of the "Tonight Show," Jay said he's "really excited" for Jimmy Fallon to take over as host, adding "it really is time" to hand it off to the next generation.  Jimmy Fallon will take over as "Tonight Show" host on Feb. 17. 

Thursday's finale was also a night of surprises. The night's only scheduled guest, Billy Crystal, who was also Jay's first "Tonight Show" guest, brought a host of celebrities with him to sing goodbye to Jay.

Dubbed the "Shut Your Von Trapp Family Singers," Billy's band included Kim Kardashian, who sang that she would no longer be the "butt" of Jay's jokes. Topping off the song was Oprah Winfrey. She serenaded Jay with a verse poking fun at her own generosity. The group of singers also included Jack Black, Sheryl Crow, Chris Paul, Jim Parsons and Carol Burnett. President Obama, Olivia Wilde, Kevin Bacon, Bill Maher, Matt Damon and Miley Cyrus also sent in their goodbyes via video.  

Country star Garth Brooks closed out the show with a pair of performances.

Before performing his hit "The Dance," Garth took a moment to call Jay a performer's "dearest friend."

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