Mavis Leno, born as Mavis Elizabeth Nicholson, is an American philanthropist and the wife of the veteran comedian and TV host, Jay Leno. The couple has been married for almost four decades and is still going strong. As a philanthropist, Mavis is best known for serving as a long time chairperson of Feminist Majority Foundation, which aims to eliminate gender apartheid in Afghanistan. She, alongside her husband, also supports various health organizations including ‘Health for everyone’ and Huntsville Hospital Foundation. On a personal note, Mavis is one of those celebrity spouses who prefer to live a relatively private life away from the glare of media. She is a woman of principles and believes in living a disciplined life. In an interview, she confided that she never wanted to get married or have children when she was a young girl. However, she changed her stance on marriage after meeting and falling in love with Jay Leno. The couple decided never to have children.
Childhood & Early Life
Mavis Leno was born on September 5, 1946 in San Francisco, California, the United States, to E.A. Nicholson, a popular character actor in movies and TV shows. He played the hooded executioner in the 1967 flick ‘In Cold Blood’. In her childhood, Mavis dreamt of pursuing a career as a jockey. Unfortunately, her dream was shattered when she came to know from her father that girls weren’t allowed to do so. The confusion and rage she faced as a young girl influenced her to raise her voice against gender-based discrimination in the future.
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Mavis Leno has been serving as the chairperson of Feminist Majority Foundation's campaign to wipe off gender apartheid in Afghanistan since 1997. In the year 1999, she and her husband Jay Leno donated $100,000 to the foundation with the purpose of educating people regarding the plight of Afghan women under the Taliban rule. The foundation successfully protested the building of an oil pipeline in Afghanistan. According to American author and journalist Melissa Rossi, Mavis was the driving force in changing the views of the then-U.S. President Bill Clinton and the executives of the oil agency Unocal Corporation (now defunct) regarding the Taliban, after she had shed light on the political group's ill-treatment of Afghan women.
Besides this, Mavis and her husband also support Equality Now, a human rights organization devoted to the civil, economic, political and social rights of girls and women. The couple has also lent a helping hand to many health organizations and educational institutions, such as Mount Holyoke College, Health for Everyone, Boston University, Huntsville Hospital Foundation, Northeastern University and McPherson College.
Relationship with Jay Leno
Mavis met Jay Leno in Los Angeles in the year 1976 while the latter was performing at the Comedy Store. She found him funny and the two began to correspond. As a young girl, Mavis told her mother that she would never marry nor have kids. However, she changed her view on marriage after meeting Leno and ended up tying the knot with him. They got married on November 30, 1980, after dating for a few years. The couple decided not to have kids.
For Mavis, her husband is quite special. He is very kind and humble, according to her. Jay Leno believes that his wife is his pillar of strength. In an interview, he shared the secret of his happy marriage. The talk show host said, “You marry your conscience... You marry the person you wish you could be. That's what I did." He also implied that he is very glad that he married a woman who works very hard for women's rights and other issues like that.