Lorne Michaels CM (born Lorne David Lipowitz; November 17, 1944) is a Canadian-American television producer, writer, comedian, and actor, best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live, and producing the Late Night series (since 1993), and The Tonight Show (since 2014).[6][7][8][9]

Early life

Lorne Michaels (born Lorne David Lipowitz) was born on a kibbutz in British-mandate Palestine,[1][2][3][4][5] on November 17, 1944, to Florence (née Becker) and Henry Abraham Lipowitz. His family emigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada when he was an infant. He is Jewish.[10] Michaels and his two younger siblings were raised in Toronto where he attended the Forest Hill Collegiate Institute. He graduated from University College, Toronto, where he majored in English, in 1966.[11][12] Michaels became a U.S. citizen in 1987[13] and was awarded the Order of Canada in 2002.[14]

Michaels has three children and has been married three times.[13] During the late 1960s, he began a relationship with Rosie Shuster, daughter of Frank Shuster of the Wayne and Shuster comedy team, who later worked with him on Saturday Night Live as a writer.[15] Michaels and Shuster were married in 1971 and divorced in 1980.[16] He married model Susan Forristal in 1984, which ended in divorce in 1987. Michaels married his current wife and former assistant, Alice Barry, in 1991.[13]


Early career

Michaels began his career as a writer and broadcaster for CBC Radio.[17] He moved to Los Angeles from Toronto in 1968 to work as a writer for Laugh-In and The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show. He starred with Hart Pomerantz in The Hart and Lorne Terrific Hour, a Canadian comedy series which ran briefly in the early 1970s.[15]

Saturday Night Live

In 1975 Michaels created (with fellow NBC employee Dick Ebersol and president of the network Herb Schlosser) the TV show NBC's Saturday Night, which in 1977 changed its name to Saturday Night Live (initially there was a name conflict with an ABC show titled "Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell" which debuted September 20, 1975 and was cancelled on November 26, 1975). The show, which is performed live in front of a studio audience, immediately established a reputation for being cutting-edge and unpredictable. It became a vehicle for launching the careers of some of the most successful comedians in the United States.

Originally the producer of the show, Michaels was also a writer and later became executive producer. He occasionally appears on-screen as well, where he is known for his deadpan humor. Throughout the show's history, SNL has been nominated for more than 156 Emmy Awards and has won 36. It has consistently been one of the highest-rated late-night television programs. Michaels has been with SNL for all seasons except for his hiatus in the early 1980s (seasons 6–10).

His daughter, Sophie, has appeared in episodes, one of which was during the show's 30th season hosted by Johnny Knoxville during the monologue when Lorne introduces Johnny Knoxville to his daughter and Sophie shocks Knoxville with a taser. She also appeared in a sketch about underage drinking when Zac Efron hosted the show.

Perhaps Michaels's best-known appearance occurred in the first season when he offered the Beatles $3,000 (a deliberately paltry sum) to reunite on the show.[18] He later upped his offer to $3,200, but the money was never claimed. According to an interview in Playboy magazine,[citation needed] John Lennon and Paul McCartney happened to be in New York City that night and wanted to see the show. They very nearly went, but changed their minds as it was getting too late to get to the show on time, and they were both tired. This near-reunion was the basis for the TV movie Two of Us. On the November 20, 1976 show, musical guest George Harrison appeared, but Michaels told him the offer was conditioned on all four members of the group showing up, not just any Beatle. Harrison tells Michaels his refusal to pay him his share is "chintzy," and Michaels counters by saying, "The Beatles don't have to split the money equally. They can give, say, Ringo less if they want."

Other work

Michaels started Broadway Video in 1979, producing such shows as The Kids in the Hall. Shortly afterwards, citing burnout, he left Saturday Night Live. He returned to the show in 1985.

During his SNL hiatus, Michaels created another sketch show titled The New Show, which debuted on Friday nights in prime time on NBC in January 1984. The show failed to garner the same enthusiasm as SNL and lasted only 9 episodes before being cancelled.

In the 1980s, Michaels appeared in an HBO mockumentary titled The Canadian Conspiracy about the supposed subversion of the United States by Canadian-born media personalities, with Lorne Greene as the leader of the conspiracy. Michaels was identified as the anointed successor to Greene.

Michaels is also the executive producer of NBC show Late Night, and was the executive producer of 30 Rock and Up All Night during their runs.

On April 3, 2013, it was announced that Michaels would be taking over as the executive producer for The Tonight Show. Consequently, The Tonight Show moved to New York in early 2014 as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.


Michaels' star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

In 1999, Michaels was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame[19] and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[16]

In 2002, Michaels was made a member of the Order of Canada for lifetime achievement.[14]

In 2003, he received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.[20]

In 2004, he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Speaking at the awards ceremony, original Saturday Night Live cast member Dan Aykroyd described the show as "the primary satirical voice of the country".[21]

Michaels received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2006, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.[17]

In 2008, Michaels was awarded the Webby for Film & Video Lifetime Achievement. With the allotted 5-words allowed to each recipient, his five-word acceptance speech was "Five words is not enough".[22]

In 2012, Lorne Michaels was awarded a rare Personal Peabody Award. He accepted at a ceremony in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.[23]

On November 22, 2016, Michaels was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.[24]

In popular culture

Michaels at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.

In a 2008 interview with Playboy, as well in various other interviews, Tina Fey admitted that Alec Baldwin's character Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock is inspired by Michaels. In a different interview, on NPR's radio show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, Baldwin stated that some of his inspiration for Donaghy was drawn from Michaels.[25]

The character Dr. Evil, the antagonist of Austin Powers in three films, has mannerisms and a speaking style based on Lorne Michaels. Dr. Evil was created and portrayed by SNL alumnus Mike Myers, who was at least partially influenced by fellow SNL performer Dana Carvey's impression of Michaels.[26]

In the Kids In the Hall movie Brain Candy, the character of Don Roritor was based heavily on actor Mark McKinney's impersonation of Lorne Michaels.[27]


Selected television credits


  1. ^ a b Swaine, Jon (February 17, 2014). "Lorne Michaels: the inscrutable kingmaker of comedy". The Guardian. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Kaplan, Don (May 12, 2013). "Lorne Michaels, the Kingmaker of Comedy". NY Daily News. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Lorne Michaels". Biography.com. A&E Television Networks. November 21, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2012/05/lorne-michaels-snl-anniversary
  5. ^ a b http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Culture/Gal-Gadot-hosts-Saturday-Night-Live-sends-a-message-in-Hebrew-to-her-Israeli-fans-506916
  6. ^ "Lorne Michaels: Biography". Brittanica.com. August 26, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  7. ^ Robinson, Joanna (January 26, 2015). "Lorne Michaels: Biography Book Saturday Night Live". VanityFair.com. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Lorne Michaels: Official SNL Bio". NBC.com. January 1, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2017. 
  9. ^ Kennedy, John R. (April 16, 2016). "Toronto-born SNL Creator Lorne Michaels on Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People List". Global News. Retrieved April 16, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Jews in the News: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Neil Simon and Lorne Michaels". Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation. February 11, 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2017. 
  11. ^ Robinson, Joanna (February 26, 2016). "New Lorne Michaels Biography Will Look at How Political Correctness Has Changed Saturday Night Live". Vanity Fair. Retrieved August 25, 2017. 
  12. ^ Shriver, Ryan (March 20, 2008). "Lorne Michaels". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 21, 2008. 
  13. ^ a b c Ginsberg, Gabriella (February 18, 2015). "Lorne Michaels". Hollywood Life. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  14. ^ a b Office of the Secretary to the Governor General, Information and Media Services (April 30, 2009). "Honours: Order of Canada - Lorne Michaels, C.M., LL.D." Governor General of Canada Archives. Government of Canada. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  15. ^ a b Smith, Chris (March 13, 1995). "Comedy Isn't Funny". New York Magazine. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b Staff (February 6, 2015). "Biography and Filmography: Rosie Shuster". Hollywood.com. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  17. ^ a b "Award Recipients: Lorne Michaels 2006 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Broadcasting)". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. Retrieved August 25, 2017. 
  18. ^ "SNL Transcripts: Beatles Offer, April 24, 1976". Snltranscripts.jt.org. Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Lorne Michaels: Latest News & Photos". NY Daily News. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  20. ^ "Lorne Michaels: 2003 Inductee". Canada's Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. 
  21. ^ Associated Press (October 25, 2004). "'SNL' creator Michaels honored". Today.com. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  22. ^ "2008 Webby Award Winner: Lorne Michaels". The Webby Awards. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  23. ^ "Personal Award: Lorne Michaels". Peabody Awards. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  24. ^ Harris, Gardiner (November 22, 2016). "Obama Awards His Last Presidential Medals of Freedom". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  25. ^ Unscripted with Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey on YouTube – 1:56–2:38. Retrieved September 5, 2010
  26. ^ "'Wayne's World': How Mike Myers and Dana Carvey Resolved Their Feud". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  27. ^ Higgins, Chris. "25 Things You Might Not Know About 'Brain Candy'". Mental Floss. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  28. ^ Gates, Anita (October 8, 1999). "Superstar (1999) FILM REVIEW; The Things She'll Do For Fame and a Date". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ "The Maya Rudolph Show". NBC. 
  30. ^ "FXX Takes Out Personal Ad for "Man Seeking Woman"". The Futon Critic. July 2, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2014. 

External links