LAS VEGAS – Jay Leno (search) joked that as the only living host of "The Tonight Show," he was the obvious choice to represent the late-night talk show at its induction into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
"As the only one left alive, they had to go to me," Leno laughed as he arrived at the Las Vegas (search) Hilton Monday to accept the award on behalf of the show.
Hosts of "The Tonight Show," (search) which debuted in September 1954, include Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson. Leno took over in 1992.
Dennis Wharton, spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, said "The Tonight Show" earned the hall of fame honor for its "cultural significance" and five decades as "a treasured American television institution."
Leno attributed the show's longevity to its immediacy.
"It's never more than a few hours old," he said. "We don't tape shows two or three days ahead of time."
His favorite bit? Leno says it's "Jaywalking," in which he takes to the streets, asks people questions with obvious answers — and often gets unexpected responses.
"Like asking who's the first president of the United States and hearing, `Abraham Lincoln,'" Leno said. "Those are always fun. We don't try to make anybody look foolish. They just do it on their own. And we never run out of people to talk to."
Leno, who turns 55 next week, will leave "Tonight" in 2009. He will be replaced by "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien.