"You serve with bravery. You serve with style. You serve with six pack abs. I can barely run a mile," sang comedian Jimmy Fallon. “Well, we owe it all to you. I only wanna thank the troops,” he finished to the tune of Hootie and the Blowfish's hit "Only Wanna Be With You” as an audience of soldiers clapped along on The Tonight Show in 2018.
Fallon is comedy royalty, known for his six years on “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” which is running in its 7th season. Jokes aside, he is a huge supporter of the veteran community and comes from a military family: both his father and father-in-law served. His show donated $150,000 to the Fisher House on Veterans Day in 2019.
“My dad was in Vietnam, and he was in a doo-wop group,” he told New York Magazine. After serving and getting a job at IBM, Navy soldier Jim Fallon Senior and his wife, Gloria, raised the comedian and his sister in Brooklyn and in Saugerties, NY. “Sometimes I wish I had a terrible childhood, so that at least I'd have an excuse,” Fallon has joked. His sister told Vanity Fair that they had an “idyllic” childhood.
“Everyone in the family was funny, and there was no divorce, no unemployment—we were lucky,” she said.
Fallon fell in love with Saturday Night Live in his teens, watching it alone religiously. Bit by the comedy bug, he dropped out of The College of Saint Rose in Albany a semester before graduating to move to Los Angeles to pursue entertainment full time. Soon after, he had an audition for SNL.
He made his debut on the popular show in 1998 after a taxing audition for producer Lorne Michaels. In his time as a regular cast member, he became known for his Weekend Update segment and hilarious impersonations. Fallon began transitioning to a film career in 2003 and left SNL at the end of the 2004 season. His early films included “Taxi” and “Fever Pitch.”
When Conan O’Brien left NBC’s show “Late Night” in 2009, Fallon took over and hosted 969 episodes. He has hosted numerous award shows, including the MTV Video Music Awards, The Primetime Emmy Awards, and the Golden Globe Awards. And in 2014, he replaced Jay Leno and took up his current post at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Back while working on “Fever Pitch,” he became friends with his now wife, Nancy Juvonen. Her father, William H. Juvonen served in the Marines as an aviator in the 1960s.
On an episode of The Tonight Show, Fallon shared a story from his father-in-law about ejecting from a plane during a training mission. High over the Mojave desert, there was mechanical failure and Juvonen’s plane began a tailspin. Looking at the altimeter and realizing he would crash, he managed to get the plane to 20,000 feet and pulled the ejection seat. When he landed safely, he hid the ripcord in his jacket and saved it. Fallon showed the cord to the Tonight audience and then presented Juvonen with a special edition timepiece, given only to those who successfully ejected from their airplanes.
“Thank you for your service! And thank you for your daughter!” he said to laughs from the studio audience.
Fallon and his wife have two daughters, Winnie Rose, age 7, and Frances Cole, age 6.