Conan O’Brien was born in 1963 in Brookline, Massachusetts. Conan’s gifts for communication and humor were evident early on; he managed his school newspaper and won a number of writing contests while in high school. He began his university studies at Harvard, after graduating from high school in 1981 as his class’ valedictorian, and graduating with honors from Harvard as well, in 1985.
Following Harvard, Conan moved to Los Angeles and joined the writing team for Not Necessarily the News, the HBO comedy series. Eventually he was sought out by the writers of Saturday Night Live and joined their cast, while at the same time exploring improvisational comedy on his own. O’Brien often performed as an extra in the SNL sketches, and his tenure at the show led to his eventually departure and move to Los Angeles, where he began writing for the show the Simpsons in 1991. He spent two years there, and Conan O’Brien is credited with providing some of the most memorable episodes on the Simpsons.
In 1993, the buzz around town was that David Letterman was about to leave Late Night, and at the same time, Conan O’Brien was looking for an opportunity to perform in front of the camera instead of working behind it. An audition led to O’Brien succeeding Letterman on Late Night, and in the fall of 1993, the fairly unknown Conan O’Brien began hosting Late Night with Conan O’Brien from New York.
Enthusiasm for Conan O’Brien’s hosting of Late Night was slow to start, but the ratings rebounded slowly and steadily, and within a few years, the Late Night team began to rack up recognition for a high-quality show, earning their first Emmy nomination in 1996. The show went on to enormous success, earning an Emmy in 2007 and multiple Writers Guild Awards in 1997, 2000, and 2002-2004. By 2005, the show boasted a viewing audience of more than two million.
The last Late Night with Conan O’Brien aired in 2009, but another opportunity was just around the corner. With Jay Leno’s impending departure from the Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien was slated to take his place, and he began hosting the show in the summer of 2009. Viewers were eager to follow Conan to the Tonight Show, but a series of unfortunate events led to Conan leaving the Tonight Show, with Jay Leno’s return as host. O’Brien hosted his final Tonight Show episode in 2010, and set his sights on yet another opportunity.
Since 2010, Conan O’Brien has been the host of the highly successful late night talk show, Conan. In addition to his regular evening appearances on television, Conan O’Brien has become not only a household name, but a sought-after host and special guest for television and film. He recently hosted the Christmas in Washington special in 2011, starred in Web Therapy for a few episodes, and provided the voice for a character in the animated film Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Part 2.) Most notably, Conan O’Brien hosted the Emmy Awards in 2006.