Lorne Michaels is the creator and executive producer of Saturday Night Live, the longest-running and highest-rated weekly late-night television program in history.
Michaels was born Lorne David Lipowitz in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on November 17, 1944. His parents were Florence (née Becker) and Henry Abraham Lipowitz, a furrier. He attended the Forest Hill Collegiate institute in Toronto and graduated from University College, University of Toronto, where he majored in English, in 1966.
Michaels began his career in Toronto where he worked as a writer and producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Company and starred in the comedy series The Hart & Lorne Terrific Hour. He moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1968 and worked as a writer for NBC’s Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and other television series until he left in 1975 to begin Saturday Night Live in New York.
Michaels created NBC’s Saturday Night in 1975 (it debuted on October 11) and changed its name to Saturday Night Live in 1977. The show, which is performed live in front of a studio audience, immediately established a reputation for being cutting edge and unpredictable. It became a vehicle for launching the careers of some of the most successful comedians in the world. Since its start, SNL has won countless Emmy Awards and was honored with the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award. Michaels has personally won ten Emmy Awards as a writer and producer in television.
Michaels’ film credits include Three Amigos which he produced and co-wrote with Steve Martin and Randy Newman, Wayne’s World, Tommy Boy, Lassie, A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, the WWII drama Enigma which he produced with Mick Jagger, and the hit comedy Mean Girls.
Michaels’ television credits also include: the series 30 Rock, The Kids in the Hall and Night Music as well as specials with Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Paul Simon, The Rutles, Flip Wilson, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Neil Young and Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park. On Broadway, he produced and directed “Gilda Radner Live from New York” and produced the subsequent motion picture Gilda Live.
In 1999, Michaels was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. In 2002, Michaels was made a member of the Order of Canada for lifetime achievement and awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2004, he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 2016, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Michaels has two sons, Henry and Edward, and a daughter, Sophie. He has been married three times, first to SNL writer Rosie Shuster (1967; div. 1980), then to model Susan Forristal (1984; div. 1987), and currently to his former assistant Alice Barry (1991 to present).