Arsenio Hall is an American actor, comedian and former talk show host. In Chicago, he tried out stand-up comedy and was soon “discovered,” later opening for Aretha Franklin and others. He appeared in the 1980s film Coming to America and Harlem Nights, but he is best known as the first black late-night talk show host. His groundbreaking talk show The Arsenio Hall Show ran from 1989-1994. He has starred in a variety of other TV projects and is slated to host his own late-night show once again in Fall 2013.
When Carson retired in 1992 and Jay Leno was chosen as his successor over David Letterman (whose show followed Carson’s), Letterman left NBC for CBS and started his own Late Show against Leno’s. Leno started drawing young viewers away from Hall, and Letterman, who had a longstanding young audience, also cut into Hall’s audience. Though the ratings dropped, Hall said in a later interview that the show was still profitable and that he chose to walk away to explore other creative arenas and take time for himself. The Arsenio Hall Show aired its final episode May 27, 1994.