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Jay Leno On 'Awkward' Joan Rivers Ban, 'Good Friend' Robin Williams

Jay Leno says he didn't invite Joan Rivers on 'The Tonight Show' out of respect for Johnny Carson but things quickly got awkward.

"I didn't want to do it while Johnny was alive out of respect for Johnny," Leno told Access Hollywood. "I don't think he wanted to see her on the show and that's why we didn't do it."

Rivers first broke out during a guest appearance on 'The Tonight Show' with Johnny Carson. But Rivers' friendship with Carson came to an end in 1986, when she accepted Fox's offer to host her own late-night program. The two never spoke again.

"After Johnny passed, it got a little awkward by that point," Leno admitted. "Joan was sort of going on and on about me, and I thought, 'Let's let the ground lie fallow for a while and see what happens,' but she always kind of kept it going."

"And I like Joan. I mean that was the first autograph I ever got was Joan Rivers. I'm a comedian, I went to see her at the Chateau De Ville in Framingham and we were friends, and by then it just got to be awkward and we just never did it."

Leno also remembered good friend Robin Williams.

"Robin was a good friend of mine," Leno recounted. "I was there when Robin auditioned at The Improv."

"I always liked Robin. I love Robin. He was a good comic. Never trashed other comedians. Never got involved in any trash talking, that kind of nonsense. He was very supportive, always helped out young performers and homeless people."

"He was a really decent, decent guy who obviously had a lot of demons. I mean, he fought that fight every day, but you only have to lose that fight once."

"You can fight every day and win but if you lose once, that was the sad part," he said.

Jay Leno will host a primetime series, tentatively titled Jay Leno's Garage, about cars on CNBC beginning in 2015.

October 16, 2014 |

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