Doctor Says Jay Leno's Wife Mavis 'Sometimes Does Not Know Her Husband' Amid Dementia Conservatorship Filing

The comedian filed for a conservatorship over his wife in January.

The extent of the dementia Jay Leno's wife, Mavis Elizabeth Leno, is battling has been detailed for the first time.  

In new court documents filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court and obtained by ET, Ronald Ostrin -- the court-appointed legal counsel for Mavis, 77 -- says that during his investigation into Jay's bid for conservatorship over his wife's estate, he has vetted that she is facing an "advanced" form of dementia and her condition continues to decline.

He writes that her neurologist, Dr. Hart Cohen, claims that the philanthropist "sometimes does not know her husband, Jay, nor her date of birth." According to Dr. Cohen -- a top neurologist at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles -- Mavis often has "a lot of disorientation" and "ruminates about her parents who have both passed and her mother who died about 20 years ago."

Ostrin states that he "received and reviewed substantial medical records" supporting the statements made by the physician.

Jay and Mavis Leno - Getty

Dr. Cohen also told Ostrin, according to the court docs, that Jay "loves his wife very much" and "treats [Mavis] like gold." He further contended that the former host of the Tonight Show waited to bring about a conservatorship of the estate "out of respect to her." 

The couple has been married since 1980 and do not share any children. Back in 2014, Jay spoke with ET at a Television Academy Hall of Fame event, saying that after 34 years, he had no regrets when it came to his partner in life. 

"I would do exactly the same thing, I would marry the same person," he said. "I'd do everything the same exactly."

In his research, the attorney also spoke directly to Mavis and her husband at their California home in February. He writes that it was clear she had "cognitive impairment" but stated her willingness to enter into the estate conservatorship under her husband.

"Ms. Leno was a delightful person, and although it was clear she had cognitive impairment, she still has a charming personality and could communicate," the documents read. "She expressed a desire to vote and told me a little about her philanthropic work. She reposed great faith and confidence in Mr. Leno and relied on him for her protection and guidance." 

California law only allows a conservatorship to move forward if less restrictive options are considered non-viable. In this case, Jay is only filing for conservatorship over her estate in order to plan for them should something happen to him in their current situation.

Jay Leno with wife Mavis Leno in November 2023 - Getty

Jay is not applying to gain control over her person, which entitles him to care for her safety and protection as well. Mavis' doctor told her attorney that as she is already being treated for her major neurocognitive disorders, further action is unnecessary in the eyes of her medical team. 

In summation, Ostrin recommends that the court permit the estate conservatorship, writing that he believes Jay to have his wife's best interests at heart and the path laid out by the estate conservatorship will be the best way to "provide the least disturbance to Ms. Leno's lifestyle and to preserve her dignity and ensure her safety."

"Based on my interaction with Mr. Leno, plus some research I have done, he seems to be a standup guy, and his private persona matches the public persona he projects," Ostrin wrote. Later in the filing, the attorney added a footnote to his comment, in which he addressed the court and said that the "stand-up" pun was not intentional. 

Jay first filed his petition for conservatorship in late January and said through his attorneys at the time, "Mavis has been progressively losing capacity and orientation to space and time for several years."

Jay and Mavis Leno wed in 1980 and do not share any children - Getty Images

Just days later, the pair was spotted out and about as Jay performed at a comedy club in Hermosa Beach, California. At the time, Mavis appeared to be content while walking outside her husband and several friends. 

According to the National Institute on Aging, dementia is an umbrella term used for many different types of neurocognitive impairments. Overall, the disorder impacts millions of people each year, including one-third of people over the age of 85. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer's, which makes up an estimated 65 to 80 percent of dementia cases. 


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