Jay Leno has had a difficult few months due to not one, but two severe events that left him with numerous injuries all over his body.
First, the 73-year-old singer spent nine days at West Hills Hospital’s Grossman Burn Center after being injured in a terrible automobile fire on November 12 of last year while working on a vintage car within the garage of his Los Angeles home. He sustained severe second- and third-degree burns as a result. Then, on January 27, a little over a month later, he was injured while riding a motorcycle, breaking his collarbone and two ribs.
Despite the consecutive mishaps, the comedian, who presently hosts both Jay Leno’s Garage and the NBC game program You Bet Your Life, has no plans to stop anytime soon.
At the Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge premiere, Leno opened up to Page Six about his retirement plans—spoiler alert: he doesn’t have any—and what it would take for him to withdraw from public life.
The seasoned late-night host insisted that he has no plans to retire “unless I have a stroke,” adding, “Then you slow down.”
He insisted that he won’t leave his job until his health really requires it, saying, “That’s when you retire, when you have your stroke.”
Leno recovered admirably from both of his recent collisions. Following a nine-day hospital stay during which he underwent various grafting procedures, he promptly returned to driving and even made it back to the scene of his collision. Less than a week later, he made his stage comeback at the Comedy Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California, where he played to a sold-out crowd and received a standing ovation.
The former late-night host previously discussed his car fire mishap with People in an interview a month after the incident, saying: “When you work with cars, you have a lot of accidents,” but adding: “But this is bigger than most.”
He admitted: “I knew how close I was to the pilot light and I thought ‘Uh oh.'” He described getting a “full face of gasoline” when he was repairing a clogged fuel line in the undercarriage of a 1907 White Steam Car.
He remarked, “Maybe like the most intense sunburn you’ve ever had, that’d be fair to say,” that it “felt exactly like my face was on fire.”
He underwent two skin grafting surgeries while in the hospital to help regenerate healthier new skin, as well as sessions in hyperbaric chambers to help oxygenate tissue. He refused to take painkillers during this time because they served as “a reminder that I’m an idiot,” so they served as a distraction.
His family and well-known acquaintances also showed their support for him in a huge way. During his stay at the burn center, his 43-year-old wife Mavis shared with him that “[John] Travolta gave me a big Italian basket, Tom Selleck sent flowers, and Russell Crowe called from Australia. I’ve been in this industry for a very long time, so to experience that affection was very moving.