Comedian and actor Arsenio Hall was the fun, freewheeling host of his own late night talk show, The Arsenio Hall Show, from 1989-94 and 2012-13.
The program was a favorite of night owls nationwide for its zany unpredictability, such as the time that guest and presidential candidate Bill Clinton enthusiastically played Heartbreak Hotel on the sax to the delight of viewers in June 1992.
Hall’s audience members typically indicated their approval by vigorously shouting “whoop, whoop!” while doing spirited fist-pumps.
Hall, who was born on February 12, 1956 in Cleveland, Ohio, also had other TV gigs. He was the buddy of Alan Thicke on Thicke of the Night (1983-84) and hosted Star Search (2003-4). He acted in films like Harlem Nights (1989) and Coming to America (1988).
Hall hasn’t maintained his high profile lately, though, leading many to wonder what happened to him and what endeavors he may have in the works. We checked it out and this is what we discovered about the beloved funny man.
Arsenio Hall Stepped Back From His Late-Night Talk Show In 1994
Television shows come and go all the time due to reasons like sagging ratings or a star moving on to other ventures. When Hall’s late night show went off the air, however, some speculated that it had something to do with his interview of controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in 1994.
Hall defended the interview and denied that the end of his show had anything to do with Farrakhan’s appearance.
He said on VladTV, “We were shocked at the attention that it got on the day the booking [of Louis Farrakhan] was announced … I had a curiosity about the man. And like anybody else, I put him on. I felt my audience would want to hear this man … I didn’t like that I was being dealt with different than other people who booked him at the same time, the same month.”
As for the demise of his show, Hall said, “My resignation letter was long before the Farrakhan booking. That’s on record … The bottom line is at the time I resigned, I don’t think I knew how to even spell Farrakhan.”
Hall actually left his late-night hosting role to prioritize his personal life. He said that the gig was so all-consuming and so ferociously high-pressure that he walked away from it despite his popularity.
According to CBS News, Hall explained, “When you have that feeling of ‘There’s something else for me to do, and this is occupying your life 24/7,’ wrong or right, you need to go. I would sit eating a piece of pizza with Jay [Leno, then-host of The Tonight Show} and I could see his hair getting gray while I was chewing! You know? And I realized, that’s NBC, that’s late night. That’s the stress.”
His Son Encouraged Him To Compete On ‘Celebrity Apprentice’
Hall’s son, Arsenio Cheron Hall, Jr, was born in September 1999. His dad was sure of what mattered most to him: “fatherhood over fame.” Hall knew that when the time was right, he would return to the limelight.
“If I’m supposed to work, if I’m supposed to have opportunities, when the moment in my life dictates that it’s time, if I’m supposed to have it, it’ll come to me.”
In an essay that Hall wrote for Newsweek in 2012, he said that having a son was a cherished dream of his for a long time. He always wanted to watch sports with a little boy of his own. He admitted that he envied other celebrities like George Lopez and Magic Johnson, who each found being a dad deeply fulfilling.
Hall wanted to be present for each milestone in his child’s life, whether big or small. “I was determined to be there for my son’s first walk, talk, boo-boo, and whatever else. I didn’t want to miss a thing,” he said.
Hall’s own father was a Baptist minister. He was perpetually busy, Hall wrote, so the two didn’t get much leisure time together. He wanted to have a much different relationship with his own child.
As Hall seemed to recognize, forging that kind of closeness with a youngster takes plenty of time and dedication. It’s hard or even impossible to do it while also pursuing a hectic, full-time career in show business. For that reason, Hall said he limited his professional work for a while to things like doing voice-overs for The Proud Family and Scooby-Doo.
Hall chose Arsenio Jr. over the powerful allure of Hollywood—but curtailing his work life so strictly meant that new offers to work vanished fast. Hall realized that putting his son first would negatively impact his prospects.
“I know I did the right thing by taking time off to raise my son. But it also came at a price. I turned down many opportunities over the years because I didn’t want to leave him for long periods of time.”
What got Hall back was ironically a request from his son. Arsenio Jr. wanted to see his dad compete on Celebrity Apprentice, which was hosted by Donald Trump. According to Hall, they liked to watch it together.
“Dad, go to New York and do Celebrity Apprentice. I want you to,” said Arsenio Jr. “You can win it all.”
That is exactly what Hall did. He and his teammates edged out singer Clay Aiken of American Idol renown and his squad. Hall reportedly donated his winnings to the Magic Johnson Foundation.
Not only did Hall win Celebrity Apprentice 5 in 2012, but being on television again got him right back into the mainstream.
“It was a fun ride,” Hall acknowledged, “and now I’m looking forward to working more. I think I can finally juggle the ‘dad thing’ and the ‘work thing’ all at the same time. Something I know mothers do every day.”
He Has Rebooted ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’ Twice
Hall returned to late night with a brief, one-season reboot of The Arsenio Hall Show in 2013-14. He also brought it to the Netflix Is A Joke Festival in 2022 for four evenings. It was filmed at the Roosevelt Theater in Los Angeles.
He seemed jubilant about the gig. Via video, Hall declared, “The bark is coming back. All my dogs out there can watch it from the comfort of your own pound. So get ready for live comedy, surprise guests and of course [barking]. I still got it” (per Deadline).
He’s Attempting A Comeback Now That His Son Is Headed To College
With Arsenio Jr. grown up and ready for college, Hall is free to jump back into the professional fray. One sign of that was his role in Coming 2 America (2021) alongside Eddie Murphy.
He’s Making Some Real Estate Moves
Hall has the big bucks to dabble in real estate. Celebrity Net Worth says he’s got $20 million in the bank, so he possesses the resources to buy lavish homes galore if he wants to.
Finurah reported that Hall shelled out $5.2 million for a Los Angeles mansion in 2021. He sold his opulent estate of three decades in Topanga, California, in 2022 for $9 million. It was reportedly luxurious, featuring a 10,000-square-foot mansion on 34 acres with stunning hilltop views.
For years, Arsenio Hall was a likable fixture on late-night TV and in comic films. He willingly made the choice to turn his back on it all—at least temporarily—opting to raise his son rather than continue to go after big-time glory in the entertainment world.
We applaud this loving dad who gladly put himself and his career second and his child first.