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Jimmy Kimmel couldn’t contain his emotions while paying tribute to his late uncle Frank Potenza on Tuesday night.
During a segment on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, the late-night host choked up almost immediately when he started talking about Potenza, his security guard and on-air contributor, who died Aug. 20.
“Listen, I’m gonna try to do this without crying, but I’m probably gonna fail,” he told his audience. “But just turn away or something, because it’s embarrassing. It really is.”
Kimmel told his viewers stories about how Potenza never wanted to be late for anything and in fact would show up “10, 11, 12” hours early for the show’s taping.
“It’s hard to believe he’s now the ‘late’ Uncle Frank because he was never ever late for anything,” Kimmel quipped.
Kimmel noted that Potenza had a “few different kinds of cancer” and doctors aren’t sure which one actually led to his death at age 77.
According to Kimmel, Potenza had hoped to live another quarter-century.
Later in the segment, Kimmel became unable to fight back his tears while talking about Potenza’s final days in the hospital, where he was surrounded by family.
“Uncle Frank loved being a part of this show,” he said before showing a video montage of his relative. “And I wanna say thanks to my co-workers who talked to him and visited him and picked him up 12 hours early for work. He loved you. And thanks to all of you who came to the show and watched, for indulging me and letting me put my crazy uncle on television.”
Earlier in the day, Kimmel tweeted about the upcoming segment: “Thanks to all for the nice tweets about my Uncle Frank – we’ll pay tribute tonight with his favorite guest @DonRickles.”
Several people in Hollywood also chimed in Tuesday on Twitter:
Dwayne Johnson: “My condolences @jimmykimmel. I loved Uncle Frank and was blessed to know him. Stay strong brother.”
Roastmaster Jeffrey Ross: “Gonna try not to cry watching the Uncle Frank tribute on @JimmyKimmelLive tonight.”
Music producer Jermaine Dupri: “Rip Uncle Frank.”
New Kids on the Block member Jordan Knight: “Watching Jimmy Kimmel talk about his Uncle Frank who passed…very touching …and funny actually…”
Publicist Lewis Kay: “I strongly urge everyone to watch @jimmykimmel tonight for a touching tribute to #UncleFrank. You will cry.”
Joel McHale (retweeting Kay’s message): “Agreed.”
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