Lorne Michaels Biography

(Creator and Producer of 'Saturday Night Live')

Birthday: November 17, 1944 (Scorpio)

Born In: Toronto, Canada

Lorne Michaels is an Emmy-winning Canadian-American comedian, television producer and the creator of the famous television show, Saturday Night Live. He has been called “comedy’s most important man ever”. Growing up in Canada as a son of immigrant parents, Michaels found time to put up shows while attending school and doing part-time jobs. Once he finished his University education, he went to work with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A few jobs later he landed in Los Angeles. He worked at NBC, initially as a writer. When a requirement for filling up a late-night slot came up, Michaels submitted a groundbreaking proposal for a live show which became the Saturday Night Live (SNL). In his long association with SNL Michaels has been the hands-on boss. Right from the days where he wore Hawaiian shirts and had shaggy hair to the well-turned-out executive that he became later, he remained involved with all aspects of SNL. He has an eye that is adept at spotting talent and some of the most famous comedians in American television have honed their craft on his shows.  Michaels has produced other late-night shows and as well as several films. He has won 18 Emmys and has also been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Quick Facts

Canadian Celebrities Born In November

Also Known As: Lorne David Lipowitz

Age: 78 Years, 78 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Alice Barry, Rosie Shuster (m. 1971–1980), Susan Forristal (m. 1981–1987)

father: Henry Abraham Lipowitz

mother: Florence Lipowitz

siblings: Barbara Lipowitz, Mark Lipowitz

children: Edward Michaels, Henry Michaels, Sophie Michaels

Born Country: Canada

Saturday Night Live Cast Comedians

Height: 5'7" (170 cm), 5'7" Males

Ancestry: Palestinian Canadian, Israeli American, Canadian American

City: Toronto, Canada

Founder/Co-Founder: Broadway Video, SNL Studios

More Facts

education: University Of Toronto

Childhood & Early Life

Lorne Michaels was born on November 17, 1944, to Florence Becker and Henry Abraham Lipowitz ,in a kibbutz in British Palestine. He was named Lorne David Lipowitz but according to some sources, his middle name was Michael and not David.

Michaels’ family immigrated to Toronto, Canada. Michaels and his two younger siblings grew up in a well-to-do neighbourhood in Toronto. His father worked as a furrier.

Michaels had been interested in showbiz since his teenage years. As a young boy, he put up shows in summer camps.

He studied at the Forest Hill Collegiate Institute. For his higher studies, he enrolled at the University College, Toronto with English as his major and graduated in 1966.

While at the University he kept his dream of show business alive and joined the Follies, a comedy troupe at the University. He also took up a job at a departmental store as a salesman in the clothing section.


Lorne Michaels’ broadcasting journey started with CBC Radio in Canada where he worked as a writer and broadcaster.

While at CBC he produced The Hart & Lorne Terrific Hour in 1971 with Hart Pomerantz. The show fell through because of creative differences between Lorne and Pomerantz.

Comedy was where his heart belonged and as a newbie in the industry, he sent his writings to veteran filmmaker, Woody Allen, regularly. Allen did not use any of the comedy materials but did call to tell Michaels that one of his jokes was “brilliant”.

After he moved to Los Angeles, Lorne Michaels found a job as a writer for NBC shows like The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.

The Saturday Night Live Phenomenon

In 1974, 29-year-old Lorne Michaels submitted an innovative idea to NBC to liven up a dull late-night slot. Michaels was given $115,000 to produce the first series.

Dick Ebersol, then a 27-year-old executive at NBC, joined hands with Michaels and the two young men worked together to create a comedy show that was very different from the ones airing on American Television at that time.

With rebellious edgy comedy, casual presentation and fresh talent, the show then titled Saturday Night went against expected television norms and created waves from the very first episode. Michaels was the writer for the show and later became the executive producer as well.

Saturday Night Live as the show came to be called became a turning point in the history of American television. It nurtured talents such as Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Tina Fey, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers.

In 1979, Lorne Michaels founded Broadway Video the production company that continues to produce SNL. The production house also produced shows such as Kids in The Hall.

Lorne Michaels quit SNL in 1980 for five years. During this break, he wrote the film comedy western Three Amigos! with Steve Martin and Randy Newman.

In 1985 Michaels was requested by NBC to come back to helm the floundering SNL show. He agreed and stayed on with the show for the next few decades. SNL to date has millions of viewers tuned in and has numerous Emmy Awards.

As an executive producer Michaels has produced other landmark shows such as Late Night with Conan O’Brien (1993-2009),30 Rock (2006 - 2013) and Portlandia (2011 - 2014). From 2014 Michaels produced The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

As a film producer, Lorne Michaels made several films such as Wayne’s World (1992), Tommy Boy (1995), Mean Girls (2004), Baby Mama (2008) and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016).

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Awards & Achievements

In 1999, Lorne Michaels was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Canada honoured him with a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2003.

He received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour in 2004.

In 2006 Michaels became the recipient of the Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Broadcasting) award from the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards.

In 2012 he became one of the few people to get a Personal Peabody Award, an award usually awarded to programs.

In 2008 and 2015 Time Magazine named him in their 100 most influential people in the world list.

Family & Personal Life

Lorne Michaels lost his father at the age of 14. The teenage boy found a father figure in Frank Shuster of the comedy duo Wayne and Shuster.

Shuster suggested that he change his surname if he wanted to make a place for himself in Hollywood. Thus, Michaels dropped the surname Lipowitz.

In 1971, he married Frank Shusters daughter, Rosie. She also worked in SNL as a writer. The couple divorced nine years later.

He married model Susan Forristal in 1981. This marriage too ended in 1987.

In 1991, he married Alice Barry who had been his assistant.

In 1987, Lorne Michaels became a US citizen. He has three children, a daughter named Sophie and two sons Henry and Edward.


Michaels is an enthusiastic gardener.

His daughter Sophie has appeared on SNL in a few episodes.


Primetime Emmy Awards
2020 Outstanding Variety Sketch Series Saturday Night Live (1975)
2019 Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series Creating Saturday Night Live (2016)
2019 Outstanding Variety Sketch Series Saturday Night Live (1975)
2018 Outstanding Variety Sketch Series Saturday Night Live (1975)
2017 Outstanding Variety Sketch Series Saturday Night Live (1975)
2015 Outstanding Variety Special Saturday Night Live: 40th Anniversary Special (2015)
2009 Outstanding Comedy Series 30 Rock (2006)
2008 Outstanding Comedy Series 30 Rock (2006)
2007 Outstanding Comedy Series 30 Rock (2006)
2002 Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program Saturday Night Live (1975)
2000 Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special Saturday Night Live 25 (1999)
1993 Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series Saturday Night Live (1975)
1989 Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program Saturday Night Live (1975)
1978 Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Special The Paul Simon Special (1977)
1977 Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Series Saturday Night Live (1975)
1976 Outstanding Comedy-Variety or Music Series Saturday Night Live (1975)
1976 Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Series Saturday Night Live (1975)
1976 Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Special The Lily Tomlin Special (1975)
1974 Best Writing in Comedy-Variety, Variety or Music Lily (1973)
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