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Jay Leno’s Wife Doesn’t Always Recognize Him After Dementia Diagnosis

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Jay Leno’s wife, Mavis Leno, doesn’t always recognize him amid her battle with dementia.

In court documents obtained by Us Weekly on Tuesday, April 2, Mavis’ court-appointed counsel Ronald Ostrin said Mavis, 77, “sometimes does not know her husband, Jay, nor her date of birth.”

Ostrin added that Mavis, who has been diagnosed with “advanced dementia,” suffers from “a lot of disorientation” and “will ruminate about her parents who have both passed and her mother who died about 20 years ago.”

Despite Mavis’ challenges, Ostrin noted that she “still has a charming personality” and can communicate. His filing recommended that Jay, 73, be appointed as the conservator of Mavis’ estate, which he said she “consents to.”

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Jay previously filed for a conservatorship of Mavis in January with the goal of setting up a living trust for his wife in case of his death. Ostrin argued in his recent filing that “the actions taken by Mr. Leno are necessary for his and Mavis’ protection.”

Ostrin added that Jay and Mavis, who have been married since 1980, have a “loving and supportive” relationship, with Mavis seeing Jay as “her protector” and someone she trusts.

“Estate planning is something that most everyone needs, but by the time you need it, if you don’t have it, it is too late to get it,” he continued.

Jay has previously spoken about the bond he shares with Mavis.

“We have a great time. You have to marry a normal person,” the former Tonight Show host said during a September 2023 appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show. “Guys say [to me] all the time, ‘I met this girl, she’s crazy but the sex is unbelievable.’ I go to them, ‘You’re right, but when the sex is over, she’s still crazy. Now, you have 23 hours of crazy until [the] good-crazy hour comes back.’”

He continued: “I always [say], ‘Marry your conscience. Marry the person you wish you could be, who is kind and maybe whatever fault you have, doesn’t have those faults.’ That’s worked out for me, so to me, I married the perfect person. It worked out good.”

The pair met in 1976 when Mavis saw Jay perform at Los Angeles’ Comedy Store.

“They sat us front row center — that means you’re this far from the comic. And there was Jay,” Mavis told the Los Angeles Times in 2014. “I needed to go to the ladies’ room. What I didn’t know was in the Comedy Store back then, that area was the only place for the comedians to hang out. So, when I came out of the bathroom, he said, ‘Are you that girl in front?’ And I said, ‘Yes, that was me.’”

During the same interview, Jay admitted that the twosome’s engagement wasn’t the height of romance.

“I had this insurance policy, and I thought if something happened to me, my girlfriend wouldn’t be covered, but if we’re married, we’re covered, so we might as well get married,” he quipped. “Not the most romantic. Mavis didn’t even get an engagement ring until [2004].”

Mavis chimed in to say they “just bought a house” together instead of a ring.

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