Jimmy Kimmel: Parents reflect on the early years

Parents share never before seen home videos

TEMPE, AZ - Five nights a week, we turn on the TV and a dark-haired, handsome superhero is there keeping us informed and making us laugh. But, you won't find bigger Jimmy Kimmel fans, than a couple from Tempe.

In fact, they watch every single night and claim to have never missed a show. They're Jimmy's parents and they couldn't be more in awe of their son.

"I always knew he was special," Joan Kimmel says. "He was a good boy."

From warm baths and first steps, to big tumbles and sweet smiles, Jim and Joan Kimmel say they realized early on nothing would ever be out of Jimmy's reach.

"He was reciting the Pledge of Allegiance the day before his second birthday," Jim Kimmel says.

Things came easily for the pint-sized fashionista.

"Joan had him dressed as John John Kennedy with the short pants, knee socks in the middle of winter in Brooklyn. It would be freezing out," Jim remembers.

Although a game of miniature pool on Christmas morning in 1969 proved a bit challenging for 2-year-old Jimmy, big things were to come. 

Years later, on a sunny May day, no one in the Kimmel family had any idea a sweet-faced 9-year-old Jimmy would one day reign over the boulevard they came to visit in 1977.

Thirty-five years later, he would pose again, this time with his own star.

"My parents brought me here to Hollywood to visit the walk of fame. I never imagined they would leave me here to fend for myself," Jimmy joked during the ceremony.

"We said something like, maybe one day you'll have a star.  And it came true," Jim says.

But, even before Jimmy Kimmel became the superstar we all know and love, he still shined brightly.

"We got a call from the school saying they were going to test our daughter for genius. Jimmy was so proud of her. The teacher said you should have that too. They both tested genius. They're smart kids," Joan remembers.

Even so, Jimmy never graduated from Arizona State University.

"He never looked back," Jim says. "He thought it was useless for what he wanted to do," says Joan.

In fact, there's another, unique dimension you'd never know about this budding comedian.

"He thought he would be an artist," Joan told us. "Yeah, he was developing a portfolio for that," Jim says.

"Then, David Letterman came into his life," Joan added. "It changed everything," Jim remembers.

"He just worships him because Letterman created a new approach to the talk show," explains Joan.

But, if there's one thing Jimmy loves more than jokes, it's his family. 

"We would just take turns," says Joan.

"I can remember sitting there for hours. He's on!" Jim says.

"It was like watching for the baby," Joan laughs.

"Once we got that clip, we would copy it and send it to all of our relatives. Jimmy was on! It was the most exciting thing."

That same undeniable love, support and compassion is what sets apart his show, giving it a heart that's bound to beat strong for years to come.

Print this article Back to Top