The former Tonight Show anchor encountered two distinct events in late 2022.
Due to not one but two serious incidents that left him with multiple injuries across his body, Jay Leno has had a challenging few months.
The 73-year-old singer was injured in a horrible car fire on November 12 of last year while working on a vintage car in the garage of his Los Angeles home, and he later spent nine days at West Hills Hospital’s Grossman Burn Center.
As a result, he suffered serious second-and third-degree burns. A little over a month later, on January 27, he was hurt while operating a motorcycle, shattering his collarbone and two ribs.
The comic, who currently hosts Jay Leno’s Garage and the NBC game show You Bet Your Life, has no intention of stopping anytime soon despite the string of disasters.
Leno spoke candidly to Page Six at the Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge premiere about his retirement plans—spoiler alert: he doesn’t have any—and what it would take to step away from the spotlight.
The seasoned late-night anchor adamantly stated, “Unless I have a stroke,” he has no plans to retire. He continued, “Then you slow down.”
Insisting that he wouldn’t quit until his health forced him to, he said, “That’s when you retire when you have your stroke.”
Leno handled each of his recent accidents admirably. He underwent several grafting procedures during a nine-day hospital stay but quickly resumed driving and even drove to the crash scene. He returned to the stage less than a week later at the Comedy Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California, to a sold-out audience and standing ovations.
In an interview a month after the incident, the former late-night presenter spoke about his car fire catastrophe, saying: “When you work with cars, you have a lot of accidents,” but adding: “But this is bigger than most.”
“I realized how close I was to the pilot light, and I thought, ‘Uh oh,’ he admitted. When fixing a fuel pipe clogged in the undercarriage of a 1907 White Steam Car, he recounted getting a “full face of gasoline.”
It “felt exactly like my face was on fire,” he commented, “Maybe like the most intense sunburn you’ve ever had, that’d be fair to say.”
While in the hospital, he underwent two skin grafting procedures to help regenerate better new skin and sessions in hyperbaric chambers to aid in oxygenating tissue.
He didn’t want to take pills during this period because they were “a reminder that I’m an idiot.”
His family and notable friends also generously demonstrated their support for him. His 43-year-old wife Mavis informed him that Russell Crowe called from Australia, Tom Selleck sent flowers, and John Travolta delivered him a large Italian basket during his stay at the burn center. “I’ve worked in this field for a long time, so feeling love was quite moving.”