Jay Leno shows off his “new face” three months after his garage fire.
The Tonight Show alum, who suffered third-degree burns when his face, neck, ear, upper body, left arm and hands caught fire on Nov. 12, appeared on Wednesday Kelly Clarkson Show along with the doctor and nurses who treated him.
“This is a brand new face,” said 72-year-old Leno. “It is. It’s unbelievable.”
In between jokes about his injuries, he told the story of working on his 1907 White Steam car in his 140,000-square-foot garage in Burbank, California, when, while trying to unclog a fuel line, he was struck by a face of gas that caught fire via the car’s pilot light.
“It’s only the second time in my career that I’m the new face of comedy,” he joked. “I got it once in the ’80s and now I’m getting it again. This is a brand new ear.”
Yes, Leno’s ear was reconstructed after the incident, which required several surgeries. Dr. Peter Grossman, who treated him at the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills, California, appeared on the show — along with nurses Karin, Alyssa and Amy, who helped care for Leno — to discuss how it all went down.
“When I first saw Jay, I felt a little uncomfortable,” Grossman admitted. “He was a little bit more burned than I’d hoped. Knowing it’s Jay Leno — and a face everyone recognizes — there’s a little fear there.” But, “He’s done it remarkably… He’s a good healer.”
Leno joked that he got a “new face in about 8 days” at the hospital. He further revealed that he will be hosting a benefit party for the hospital to help children being treated there before gifting the three nurses a trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas as a thank you.
Since Leno’s accident, he has returned to work and has a packed schedule of shows planned. However, he later suffered other injuries as a result of a motorcycle accident on January 17. That left him with a broken collarbone, two broken ribs and two broken kneecaps.
News of the garage fire broke in November. At the time, Grossman talked about performing a surgical excision and grafting procedure, removing nonviable tissue that would slow wound healing and applying a biologic skin substitute to the burns to speed Leno’s healing. Leno Also underwent “highly aggressive” hyperbaric oxygen therapy — a treatment that boosts oxygen to injured areas to speed healing.
Leno gave his first TV interview to the Today Hoda Kotb from the December show. In it, his old friend Dave Killackey, who smothered the fire on his face and extinguished the car, said that Leno “played down” what happened, but that he was “overwhelmed”. He said Leno’s face was “a wall of fire”.