Jimmy Fallon made an emotional tribute to his late mother on Monday night’s episode of The Tonight Show.
The comedian cancelled his NBC nightly programme for a week following the death of his mother Gloria Fallon, who passed away with her son by her side.
Fallon described the 68-year-old as “the best audience”, adding: “She was the one I was always trying to make laugh.”
Fallon then fought back tears as he recounted a story about his mother.
“When we were little, my mum would walk us to the store – me and my sister – and we would hold hands. And she would squeeze my hand three times and say, ‘I love you,’ and I would squeeze back, ‘I love you too.’
“Last week I was in the hospital, at her side, and I grabbed her hand and I squeezed ‘I love you,’ and I just knew we were in trouble,” Fallon said with his voice breaking.
He went on to thank fans for all the support he and his family had received since his mother’s death.
The presenter said everyone at the show would “continue to work really hard to bring some light and some laughter into the world”.
He finished by promising his mother: “Mum, I’ll never stop trying to make you laugh.”
Gloria Fallon died “peacefully” on 4 November in hospital in New York. At the time, Fallon issued a statement saying: “Today I lost my biggest fan.”
Separately, the talk show host’s sister, also called Gloria, thanked fans for their messages, saying it “meant more than you’ll ever know”.
One of the show’s producers also took to Twitter to pay his own respects to the late Gloria Fallon.
Mike DiCenzo described her as “the best”, adding she was well loved by many of the production team, who he says were “devastated” after learning she had passed away.
He said listening to Jimmy’s tribute to his mother brought him – as well as many others to tears.
The producer said: “Jimmy’s words about his mom were beautiful. ‘Mom, I’ll never stop trying to make you laugh. I love you.’ I was crying. We all were.”
Later on the programme Taylor Swift performed an emotional first play of her song New Year’s Day.
DiCenzo says it was a last minute booking, when they contacted Swift hoping to organise something special for Fallon’s first show back.
Coincidentally, her song contained lyrics echoing the story Fallon had told about his mother. Swift sang “squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi”, DiCenzo writes the whole audience was practically sobbing at that point.
He adds: “I could see Jimmy silhouetted at his desk dabbing his eyes with a tissue. We all lost it. It was a beautiful coincidence in a beautiful performance. ‘Hold on to your memories, they will hold on to you,’ Taylor sang.”
After the song Jimmy Fallon rushed over to share a long hug with Taylor Swift. DiCenzo added “whatever you think of Taylor, she did something beautiful for Jimmy and our show today, and we’re forever grateful.”