Gloria Fallon passed away this weekend, with son Jimmy Fallon by her side, a fitting ending for the woman who shaped his career in comedy and encouraged Jimmy to strengthen his funny bone since he was just a toddler.
On Friday, reports surfaced that Jimmy abruptly left the taping of his show to be by his mother’s side in the hospital. As USA Today reported, 68-year-old Gloria Fallon passed away on Saturday at a New York hospital with friends and family by her side.
It seemed appropriate that Jimmy Fallon would be by his mother’s side as she passed away. As the comedian shared in previous interviews, it was his mother who encouraged him to go into comedy and the support of his entire family that helped to make such a difficult career possible.
In an interview with Biography, Fallon said his entire family had a knack for performing.
“I grew up in a big Irish family, and we’d have big parties all the time and everyone was always grabbing a microphone and singing a song or something. That was kind of a family ritual, the kind of thing that would happen as often as it didn’t. I figured I had to get in on the act somehow, even when I was really little, so I’d grab a microphone and go out there and stomp around and do my thing too.”
But Fallon said it was his mother in particular who helped steer him into comedy, starting by encouraging his talents when he was just a toddler. Fallon told Biography that he learned to do impressions when he was just 2, and his best one was actor Jimmy Cagney.
Gloria Fallon loved to hear this impression, and encouraged Jimmy to do it as often as possible.
“Seriously, I was a baby when I started doing Jimmy Cagney. I think I was 2 years old and I would just say, ‘You dirty rat.’ But right there, I’d get a laugh. My Mom would say, ‘Jimmy, do Jimmy Cagney,’ and I’d go, ‘You dirty rat.’ I’m 2 years old. Those were almost my first words. It was very big.”
The comedy style that Gloria Fallon helped foster in her son served him very well. The goofiness helped Jimmy Fallon make a successful career as a stand-up comedian and eventually earn him a spot on Saturday Night Live, where his inability to get through skits with a straight face ended up endearing him to fans.
When Fallon was ready to move into hosting, the comedy style earned him comparisons to a late night legend. As Jay Leno told Rolling Stone, his Tonight Show successor was the true embodiment of Johnny Carson.
“Johnny was an instant success, but a lot of the critics thought, this is not culturally relevant,” Leno said. “Jack Paar would spend 90 minutes with Noël Coward, and Johnny did Art Fern. The stories would say, ‘When is The Tonight Show going stop the silliness and get back to substantive issues?'”
Since the passing of Gloria Fallon, many people from across the entertainment world have reached out to the Tonight Show host to offer their condolences and remember the impact she had on his career.
[Featured Image by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images]