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conan obrien

Happy Birthday, Conan O’Brien, TV Host and Comedian

April 18, 2010
by findingDulcinea Staff
Conan O’Brien has been entertaining audiences with his off-beat comedic style from an early age. As a young Harvard graduate, O’Brien wrote for such landmark comedy shows as “Saturday Night Live” and “The Simpsons.” His writing earned him an Emmy for Outstanding Writing at the tender age of 26. He hosted the Emmy Award-winning show “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” for 16 years.

Conan O'Brien's Early Days

Conan O’Brien was born on April 18, 1963, in Brookline, Mass., the third of six children. In 1981, he entered Harvard University to study American history. Displaying a knack for comedy, O’Brien became the editor for the school’s revered comedic magazine, "Harvard Lampoon," and was twice elected president of the magazine. According to his biography on AskMen.com, after graduation in 1985, he decided to pursue a comedy career and moved to Los Angeles, where he began writing for HBO on the show “Not Necessarily the News.”

Before he found success, O'Brien worked odd jobs, including a stint at a place called Wilsons House of Suede and Leather. In a 2006 interview with the A.V. Club, he talked about the job. "What was worse, I was mostly working a desk job at Wilsons. So it wasn't even getting to handle the amazing suede merchandise," he said.

O'Brien's Notable Accomplishments

O'Brien's work caught the eye of Lorne Michaels, executive producer of “Saturday Night Live.” As a result, he moved back East to work for the show in 1988. At “SNL,” the young writer made a name for himself with such sketches as “Girl Watchers A Go Go.” Read the transcript for this skit on the SNL Transcripts site.

O’Brien’s creativity paid off in 1989 when he won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing, just a year after joining the show. He left SNL to work for “The Simpsons” on their 1992-93 season. His biography on the Biography Channel Web site reports that of the episodes he wrote, his favorite is “Springfield Gets a Monorail.”

After only one season with the show, O’Brien left to tackle a big challenge—hosting “Late Night." Although his initial ratings weren’t the best, audiences eventually warmed up to O’Brien’s offbeat style, and NBC signed him to a five-year contract after four years on the air.

During O’Brien’s tenure at “Late Night,” the writers picked up six Writers Guild of America awards for Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Series, and after many nominations, the show finally received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program in 2007.

O'Brien delivered one of the most admired and widely circulated commencement addresses to the Harvard University Class of 2000. His candor resulted in such memorable declarations as, "[W]ho here wrote a thesis. A lot of hard work, a lot of your blood went into that thesis... and no one is ever going to care."

The Rest of the Story

In 2009, O’Brien took over as host of “The Tonight Show” after Jay Leno’s retirement. He became the fifth host of the legendary television show. According to the Biography Channel Web site, just before O'Brien took over the show, Leno renegotiated his contract and moved to a prime-time slot right before O'Brien's show. When poor ratings resulted, O'Brien left "Late Night."

In April 2010, it was announced that he will host a new late-night show on cable network TBS beginning in November. "Buzz could make his cable show a hit, even if his ratings don't match rival Jay Leno's," David Hinckley wrote for the New York Daily News.

O'Brien married girlfriend Liza Powell, an advertising executive, in 2002. The couple has two children.

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