America’s favorite late-night host JAY LENO is vowing to bounce back from a secret emotional collapse he suffered following his tearful exit from “The Tonight Show.”
Jay, 63, was so shaken to his core after relinquishing his 22-year TV reign, the lantern-jawed comic sank to the depths of despair – “a basket case,” as one colleague described him.
Millions saw Jay’s teary-eyed goodbye to viewers, watching his composure break as the show wound down, weeping as he recalled “the greatest 22 years of my life” and how he considered his co-workers his family.
“I’ll tell you something,” he said through tears. “The first year of this show, I lost my mom. The second year, I lost my dad. Then my brother died. After that I was pretty much out of family. These people became my family.”
Backstage, according to Jay’s colleague, he broke down completely in front of his co-workers. “It was like he was grieving for the loss of a loved one.”
Jay was sobbing so uncontrollably that his wife Mavis “had to take him in her arms and rock him like a child,” the co-worker said.
“In the days following he was like a ship without a rudder, spending hours staring off blankly into space.”
But devoted wife Mavis and longtime pal Arsenio Hall came to Jay’s rescue, and the comic is battling back from the emotional upheaval.
“The only person who’s been able to pull Jay out of his deep despair has been Mavis. She’s stayed close to him to keep an eye on him since he left the show” an insider said.
Mavis, 67, was by his side when Jay performed at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, in Sarasota, Fla., just a day after leaving the “Tonight Show.”
“She’s done whatever she can to lift Jay’s spirits and alleviate his anguish.”
When longtime friend Arsenio got wind that Jay was hurting, he threw him a lifeline and invited him on his show Feb. 26. Jay was overjoyedto be on stage to announce that Hall’s show had been renewed for a second season. “We’ve known each other what, 35 years?” a casually dressed and smiling Leno asked Hall after sneaking up behind the “Coming to America” star during his monologue.
“Yup, you’ve been a big brother to me,” Hall said.
The insider said: “Jay’s going to need more shoulders to lean on like Arsenio’s to get him through this crisis, but the entertainer is emerging from his funk.”
“Jay’s going to need a tremendous amount of support and love,” Dr. Judy Kuriansky – a noted clinical psychologist, author and radio host – told The ENQUIRER.
“He’s been responsible for his staff ’s livelihoods. Their children were like his children. He shared in their joys and their sorrows.”
In 2012, Jay even took a massive 50 percent pay cut in an effort to save staff jobs as NBC struggled to slash “Tonight” show costs.
Dr. Kuriansky, who has not treated Leno, points out that losing the show “had to be a time of massive depression for him. He suffered hugely.” But with help, Jay’s coming back.