I didn’t meet Jack until 1985. I came back to New York to start The Morning Show and wanted to meet him. Kathie Lee arranged it. We became close friends. He was the most interesting guy you ever met, a great storyteller who had an anecdote for everything, the places he’d been, people he worked with — everybody from Castro to the Kennedys. When you saw a guest on with Jack, you saw him in a different light than with anyone else. He brought out the humanity and the humor in everyone. And he became unforgettable in just five years on The Tonight Show.
Viewers could identify with Jack. He was an Everyman, encountering the same problems everybody else did, like buying a car or fixing the plumbing. I could relate to the things he was saying, and I felt like I could almost say the same things — though not quite as well. The opening that I do on my show every morning is directly from Jack; if it weren’t for him, I don’t think I would have gotten into this business. He was the best. (Paar died from stroke complications in Greenwich, Conn.)