Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels CC (born Lorne David Lipowitz; November 17, 1944) is a Canadian-American television producer, writer, actor and comedian best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live and producing the Late Night series (since 1993), The Kids in the Hall (from 1989 to 1995) and The Tonight Show (since 2014).[1][2][3][4]

Lorne Michaels

Michaels at the 72nd Annual Peabody Award Ceremony, 2013
Lorne David Lipowitz

(1944-11-17) November 17, 1944
  • Canadian
  • American
  • American
  • Canadian
  • Israeli
  • Film and TV producer
  • Screenwriter
  • Actor
  • Comedian
Years active1968–present
Known forSaturday Night Live (creator, producer)
Late Night (producer)
Home townToronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Rosie Shuster
    (m. 1971; div. 1980)
  • Susan Forristal
    (m. 1981; div. 1987)
  • Alice Barry (m. 1991)

Early life

Place of birth

Lorne Michaels was born on November 17, 1944, to Florence (née Becker) and Henry Abraham Lipowitz. His place of birth is disputed; multiple sources have said he was born in Toronto, Ontario in Canada[5][6] while others state he was born on a kibbutz in British-mandate Palestine (now Israel)[7][8][9][10][11] and that his Jewish family emigrated to Toronto when he was an infant.[12]

Personal life

Michaels and his two younger siblings were raised in Toronto; he attended Forest Hill Collegiate Institute. He graduated from University College, Toronto, where he majored in English, in 1966.[13][14] Michaels became a US citizen in 1987[15] and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2002.[16]

Michaels has three children and has been married three times.[15] During the early 1960s, he began a relationship with Rosie Shuster, daughter of his comedy mentor Frank Shuster of the Wayne and Shuster comedy team, who later worked with him on Saturday Night Live as a writer.[17] Michaels and Shuster were married in 1971 and divorced in 1980.[18] He married model Susan Forristal in 1981, which ended in divorce in 1987. Michaels married his current wife and former assistant, Alice Barry, in 1991.[15]


Early career

Michaels began his career as a writer and broadcaster for CBC Radio.[19] 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.[17]

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.[20] He later upped his offer to $3,200, but the money was never claimed. According to an interview in Playboy magazine, 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."

Chris Kattan claims that he was pressured by Michaels to have sex with Amy Heckerling so she would direct the film A Night at the Roxbury (although she ultimately only produced, rather than directed it).[21]

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.


Companion of the Order of Canada (C.C.)
  • Awarded on: May 11, 2018;
  • This is a promotion within the Order [22]
Member of the Order of Canada (C.M.)
  • Awarded on: May 1, 2002
  • Invested on: February 21, 2003 [23]
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for Canada
  • 2002: As a member of the Order of Canada, he was also awarded with The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal.
  • [24]
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Canada
  • 2012: As a member of the Order of Canada, he was also awarded with The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal.
  • [25]
Presidential Medal of Freedom

In 1999, Michaels was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame[27] and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[18]

In 2003, he received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.[28]

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".[29]

Michaels received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2006, Canada's highest honour in the performing arts.[19]

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".[30]

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.[31]

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.[32]

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.[33]

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.[34]


Selected television credits


  1. "Lorne Michaels: Biography". Britannica.com. August 26, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  2. Robinson, Joanna (January 26, 2015). "Lorne Michaels: Biography Book Saturday Night Live". VanityFair.com. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  3. "Lorne Michaels: Official SNL Bio". NBC.com. January 1, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  4. 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.
  5. Swaine, Jon (February 17, 2014). "Lorne Michaels: the inscrutable kingmaker of comedy". the Guardian. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  6. "Lorne Michaels | Biography, Saturday Night Live, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  7. Swaine, Jon (February 17, 2014). "Lorne Michaels: the inscrutable kingmaker of comedy". The Guardian. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  8. Kaplan, Don (May 12, 2013). "Lorne Michaels, the Kingmaker of Comedy". NY Daily News. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  9. "Lorne Michaels". Biography.com. A&E Television Networks. November 21, 2016. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  10. Simon, Paul. "Paul Simon on Friend and S.N.L. Creator Lorne Michaels". Vanityfair.com. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  11. "Gal Gadot hosts Saturday Night Live, sends a message in Hebrew to her Israeli fans - OMG - Jerusalem Post". Jpost.com. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  12. "Jews in the News: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Neil Simon and Lorne Michaels". Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation. February 11, 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  13. 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.
  14. Shriver, Ryan (March 20, 2008). "Lorne Michaels". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 21, 2008.
  15. Ginsberg, Gabriella (February 18, 2015). "Lorne Michaels". Hollywood Life. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  16. 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.
  17. Smith, Chris (March 13, 1995). "Comedy Isn't Funny". New York Magazine. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  18. Staff (February 6, 2015). "Biography and Filmography: Rosie Shuster". Hollywood.com. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  19. "Award Recipients: Lorne Michaels 2006 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Broadcasting)". Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
  20. "SNL Transcripts: Beatles Offer, April 24, 1976". Snltranscripts.jt.org. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
  21. Neilan, Dan (May 29, 2019). "Chris Kattan's Got a Disturbing Story About Lorne Michaels and A Night at the Roxbury". The A.V. Club.
  22. https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/146-8266
  23. https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/146-8266
  24. https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/125-39286
  25. https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/126-103991
  26. Harris, Gardiner (November 22, 2016). "Obama Awards His Last Presidential Medals of Freedom". The New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  27. "Lorne Michaels: Latest News & Photos". NY Daily News. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  28. "Lorne Michaels: 2003 Inductee". Canada's Walk of Fame. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008.
  29. Associated Press (October 25, 2004). "'SNL' creator Michaels honored". Today.com. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  30. "2008 Webby Award Winner: Lorne Michaels". The Webby Awards. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  31. "Personal Award: Lorne Michaels". Peabody Awards. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  32. Unscripted with Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey on YouTube – 1:56–2:38. Retrieved September 5, 2010
  33. "'Wayne's World': How Mike Myers and Dana Carvey Resolved Their Feud". The Hollywood Reporter.
  34. Higgins, Chris. "25 Things You Might Not Know About 'Brain Candy'". Mental Floss. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  35. Gates, Anita (October 8, 1999). "Superstar (1999) FILM REVIEW; The Things She'll Do For Fame and a Date". The New York Times.
  36. "The Maya Rudolph Show". NBC.
  37. "FXX Takes Out Personal Ad for "Man Seeking Woman"". The Futon Critic. July 2, 2014. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
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