Craig Kilborn is an American comedian-actor, sports anchor, and television host, who is best known for his poker-faced dry delivery of comedic lines, for his hosting style on “The Late Late Show” that aired on CBS in the early part of 2000’s, and for being a former “SportsCenter” anchor on ESPN.
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Early Life and Family
Craig Lawrence “Kilby” Kilborn was born on 24 August 1962, in Kansas City, Missouri, USA to parents Hiram Kilborn, who was an insurance executive, and Shirley Kilborn, a former teacher. From age five onwards, he and his brother, Chris, were raised in Hastings when his father decided to move to Minnesota.
Growing up, he was tall for his age and would use this advantage on the basketball court instead of the city’s much favored sport of hockey. He would always find his taste a little bit different from his hometown peers even at a young age, including listening to the timeless voice of Nat King Cole instead of the young Reo Speedwagon, or preferring to devour blue cheese over popular candies such as Milky Way and M&M which were made in Hastings. From an interview with Los Angeles Times, he said that ‘Yes, I had a very happy childhood, and it’s only intensified as an adult. At some point I mastered the art of living.’
He loved the times he spent watching “Firing Line,” a public affairs TV show hosted by William F. Buckley Jr., with his father, and was the reason why he was never stirred up by political humor or social commentaries. He said he’d like his politics to come from intellectual people not amateurs.
He matriculated from Hastings High School where he played excellent basketball, and was given a college scholarship at Montana State University from where he graduated in 1984 with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Media and Theatre Arts.
Craig started his career in radio by doing the play-by-play commentary in 1986, for CBA’s Savannah Spirit’s games that lasted until 1987. Then he moved to television and debuted in one of Fox’s affiliate television station KCBA in Salinas, serving the Monterey County locals in California as a sports anchor.
In 1993, he became a sports anchor in ESPN’s “SportsCenter” until 1996, where he became known for his iconic catch phrases such as ‘The Feel Good Edition,’ ‘Oh, Precious,’ and ‘Release, Rotation, Splash.’
Craig left the world of sports and turned to late night show TV hosting. In 1996, he was the host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” which he ran for three years. He created several segments for the show, including “Dance, Dance, Dance,” “5 Questions,” and “Moment for Us,” which became popular and were used by future hosts of the show. It earned him an Outstanding Entertainment Host nomination from the Cable ACE Award, and his late night show was declared the Best Late Comedy by the American magazine TV Guide.
When CBS offered him a hosting job, replacing Tom Snyder for “The Late Late Show,” which would be aired right after “Late Show with David Letterman,” he immediately accepted, and left “The Daily Show” in 1998 after hosting 386 episodes. Craig started hosting it in March of 1999, and was filmed in Studio 58 for the next five seasons until he elected not to renew his contract, leaving everyone bewildered by his decision. The show was popular and was the peak of his career; he created many iconic segments which were fan favorites, such as “Five Questions,” “Yambo,” and “What’s Up.” He left the show in August of 2004.
Craig took some time off from doing television, but took part in some movies, including the remake of Walt Disney’s “The Shaggy Dog” with Tim Allen, Robert Downey Jr., and Kristin Davis in 2006, “The Benchwarmers” with Rob Schneider and David Spade in 2006, and “Full of It” with Kate Mara and Ryan Pinkston released in 2007.
After being gone from television for six years, Craig returned to the small screen, and started a new show called “The Kilborn File,” which was aired on Fox. However, it didn’t pass beyond the six-week test run given for TV shows with a primetime slot, and was cancelled immediately after the 30th episode. The show wasn’t positively received by viewers and critics alike.
Craig did some voice acting for an episode in “BoJack Horseman,” an adult comedy cartoon series in 2015, and appeared in an episode in the series “Workaholics,” a comedy series aired on Comedy Central in 2017. He also had supporting roles in a couple of movies, including “The Extendables,” a parody of Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables” in 2014, and in “The Bronze,” a sports-comedy-drama in 2015.
He was not part of any regular TV show after the “The Kilborn File” was cancelled, and was rarely seen except for a few guest appearances during TV specials including Jon Stewart’s final “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” in 2015, and “The Rich Eisen Show” interview for the 40th anniversary of ESPN in 2019.
- When he did not renew his contract with CBS “Late Late Show,” all kinds of speculation was aired. One of them was money issues, as one producer claimed that he was asking for more. Another one said that Craig grew tired when things don’t go his way with the formatting of the show. Craig broke his silence by saying he was tired of the comedy of the late night show and the demand of making social commentaries which he didn’t want to do.
- He enjoyed his early retirement easily, and adapted to it smoothly by renovating his 1920’s mansion. His Instagram account which he opened in August of 2018 delighted many of his fans, who said it was like watching the vintage Kilby again.
- Craig was rumored to be gay as he would never share details of his personal life or his sexual preference. There was one time it was said that after divorcing his first wife, he married himself and went to Catalina Island for a honeymoon, masturbating the whole week. His comedic monologues would spark up discussions among fans if it were true or not. The rumor died down when it was revealed that he married again.
Little else is known about his personal life, except that he married his personal trainer Erin O’Brien and has a son, Sheppard O’Brien, and a daughter, Malin O’Brien, with her. He was also married to former model-actress Amber Smith in 1998 but they divorced in 2002 after having a son, Jonathan, way before they were married.
Lewis is 6ft 5ins. (1.96m) tall and weighs 190lbs (86kgs). He is of Scottish descent, with blonde hair and hazel brown eyes.
According to sources, Craig Kilborn has an estimated net worth of over $7 million as of June 2020.