31 years ago today, Arsenio Hall made his debut as a television show host. The Arsenio Hall Show in the early ’90s was must-see television. From landmark cultural moments, interviews and more, the show was a staple in black households and much of mainstream America for the better part of six seasons.
If you were anyone in Black Hollywood, you made sure to stop by Arsenio’s couch and breakdown whatever was on your mind. The show became synonymous with black talent and superstars of the era, whether it be a controversial interview with Minister Louis Farrakhan to a conversation with Magic Johnson one day after Magic revealed to the world he was HIV positive.
Hall’s wit and exploding popularity in the wake of Coming To America make him a star and The Arsenio Hall Show a forebear to late-night gigs hosted by black talent or shows down the line. Relive some of Arsenio’s best moments below.
1. Eddie Murphy & Michael Jackson
It’s no shock that Eddie and Arsenio were the best of friends by the late 1980s. But what Eddie didn’t expect was the King of Pop himself Michael Jackson showing up to give him an award as the “Greatest Comedian of All-Time”. Of course, MJ would win for “Greatest Video Of All-TIme” in the 1980s.
Tupac made numerous appearances on The Arsenio Hall Show but possibly his best appearance on the show came in 1994, months after his sexual assault case became public, his altercation with the Hughes Brothers on the set of Menace II Society and to promote Above The Rim.
3. Bill Clinton
During the 1992 Presidential race, Bill Clinton decided to something a little different to separate himself as a contender between incumbent George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot. So, he got on Arsenio’s show for an interview that – well helped catapult him to the White House.
4. Magic Johnson
The day after Magic Johnson shocked the world and announced he was HIV Positive, he went on Arsenio’s show to discuss the disease, his fight and more. Later, the two would star in an infomercial, Time Out: The Truth About HIV which aired in 1992.
5. Will Smith
Young Will Smith versus Arsenio usually resulted in the dozens. But just after The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air took off, Will sat on Arsenio’s infamous couch and detailed how he handled fame as a teen and well … I’d say 30 years later he’s handled everything quite well.