By Lynette Rice
Updated June 04, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

The final telecast of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on May 29 attracted the host’s biggest audience on a Friday since he took over the gig from Johnny Carson 17 years ago. Leno’s final show not only generated the show’s best performance among adults 18-49 in 12 years, but it lured 11.9 million viewers. Overall, it was Leno’s seventh most-watched telecast ever, behind such memorable shows like that one that followed the Cheers finale in 1993 (22.4 million) and his May 1992 debut (16.1 million).

Leno’s off the air until Sept. 17, when he’ll return in the 10 o’clock hour to launch The Jay Leno Show five nights a week.