US TV host Jimmy Kimmel has apologised for using blackface makeup to impersonate stars including Snoop Dogg and Oprah Winfrey.
Kimmel said he had thought of his behaviour on Comedy Central’s The Man Show, which aired between 1999 and 2004, “as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more”.
The 52-year-old added he wanted to say sorry to those who had been “genuinely hurt or offended”.
Kimmel said he had delayed apologising because he thought that it “would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us”.
He added: “That delay was a mistake.”
Kimmel hosts a late-night talk show on US channel ABC and presented the Oscars in 2017 and 2018.
The popular television personality also impersonated the black basketball player Karl Malone on The Man Show.
Kimmel said his impression of Malone, known as the Mailman, started on the radio.
He said: “On KROQ radio in the mid-90s, I did a recurring impression of the NBA player Karl Malone. In the late 90s, I continued impersonating Malone on TV.
“We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible. I never considered that this might be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, one that had no more to do with Karl’s skin colour than it did his bulging muscles and bald head.
“I’ve done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie, and many others.
“In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more. Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices.”
Kimmel said he believed he had “evolved and matured over the last 20 years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show”.
The TV host’s use of blackface make-up came under renewed scrutiny after fellow presenter Jimmy Fallon issued a similar apology in May.
It comes as episodes of the sitcom “30 Rock” featuring blackface will be removed from streaming at the request of its creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.
Fey said in a statement: “As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing make up are best taken out of circulation.”
In the UK, Little Britain creators David Walliams and Matt Lucas, and Ant and Dec, have apologised for imitating people of other races.