Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno‘s marriage to wife Mavis Leno is not just considered successful in terms of a Hollywood relationship, their union stands an example of true commitment for any couple. Leno, who now oversees the CNBC series Jay Leno’s Garage, and is appearing as a guest judge on America’s Got Talent on Tuesday night, married Mavis, who’s a philanthropist and activist, on November 30, 1980, and they’ve been together ever since.
In their nearly 40 year union, the longtime couple have openly discussed their decision to not have any kids. It was a choice Mavis had already made when she met Leno, and he accepted her decision wholeheartedly. While speaking with The Washington Post in 2014 Mavis described how she used to watch the 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners as a child, and the life-long effect the show had on her views of marriage.
She said, “I would see a young woman who was very attractive, and a thousand times smarter, and she’s living in this little tenement hovel with her husband, Ralph, and then this Ed Norton, who has an even hotter wife. These men spend all their time talking about what a drag the wives are and asking how they can get away from them. It’s perfectly obvious the women are the ones trapped. I remember telling my mother when I was 7 or 8 that I was never going to get married or have children. To me, this is the way women get caught.”
In an interview with the LA Times Mavis said she was initially against getting married, that is, until she met Jay at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles in 1976.
“I was insanely in love with him, but I had had a long relationship before and never for one minute thought about marrying that guy,” she said. “My belief was that I was a voyager, that I was just going to spend some time on this island and sail along and spend some time on that island. But with Jay, I realized all this time I’d been sailing, he was the destination.”
She added, “By the time we were together, I was 34. I had been a feminist for years, and I finally realized that fight was won, you know? I was past it, although that was an important gesture for me to makethat I could live without being married.”
Jay Shares The Secret to Happy Marriage
Leno told Today, “The trick is to marry, like, a normal person. I always meet people who go, ‘I met this girl, she’s crazy, the sex is wonderful.’ [And I say] ‘I know, I know, but you know, when the sex is over, she’s still crazy.’ That’s the problem. Here’s the secret: You marry your conscience… You marry the person you wish you could be. That’s what I did.”
The 69-year-old comedian added, “I’m in show business, which is a selfish profession, so I married a woman that works very hard for women’s rights and other issues like that and it balances out. You marry the person you wish you could be.”