Jimmy Fallon fought back tears as he paid an emotional tribute to his mother Gloria while resuming his “Tonight Show” duties on Monday.
Fallon, 43, returned to the NBC show for the first time since his mother, Gloria, died aged 68 on Nov. 4.
He explained: “It’s good to be back, guys. As some of you know my mother, Gloria, passed away recently. I cancelled our shows last week to be with my family and make arrangements. She was the best audience, she was the one I was always trying to make laugh, and she was such a fan of the show and everything I did.”
Fallon continued, “When we were little, my mom would walk us to this store, me and my sister, and she would squeeze my hand three times and say, ‘I love you,’ and I would squeeze back, ‘I love you, too.’”
“And… last week I was in the hospital and I grabbed her and squeezed I love you. I just knew we were in trouble, you know? I feel so grateful to be able to do this every single night and I’m very appreciative of all the support from all of you that my family received over the past week,” the host went on to share.
He added: “We’re going to continue to work really hard to bring some light and some laughter into the world. Thank you for watching, thank you for helping me and my family recover from this loss. Mom, I’ll never stop trying to make you laugh. I love you.”
Fallon’s tribute comes after a spokesperson confirmed that Gloria had sadly passed away in a statement, which read: “Jimmy Fallon’s mother, Gloria, died peacefully on Saturday. Jimmy was at his mother’s bedside, along with her loved ones, when she passed away at NYU Langone Medical Center in NYC. Our prayers go out to Jimmy and his family as they go through this tough time.”
“Today I lost my biggest fan,” Fallon then told PEOPLE.
Monday night’s show also saw Taylor Swift take to the stage to pay tribute to the presenter’s mother, with her singing “New Year’s Day,” which also makes a reference to “squeezing the person you loves hand three times.”
Mike DiCenzo, a writer and producer for “The Tonight Show,” took to Twitter to say that Swift was not scheduled to perform that night.
However, the team wanted to do something special for Fallon’s first show back and the musician “said yes with zero hesitation.”