Tonight is David Letterman's last show on CBS. At 68 years old, he is calling it quits after over 35 years as a late night television host. It is certainly a retirement worth noting as David Letterman has been a late night icon longer than even Johnny Carson who hosted the Tonight Show from October 1, 1962 to May 22, 1992. David Letterman began his run with NBC on February 1, 1982 with Late Night with David Letterman. The show came on after the Tonight show. Late Night with David Letterman ran until June 25, 1993 when David left NBC for CBS to host The Late Show with David Letterman. The NBC show ran from August 30, 1993 until tonight, May 20, 2015.
It was assumed that Letterman would have gotten the Tonight Show
hosting when Johnny Carson retired. Letterman paid his dues following
Carson for 11 years on NBC. It seemed natural Letterman would get the
job. He did not. When Jay Leno was named as Carson's successor
For most of Letterman's late night career, I lived in the Eastern Time Zone. That meant the Late Night with David Letterman came
on at 12:30 on weeknights. While I was only in my thirties, I did get
up early for work and thus rarely watched the show. On the rare
occasions when I did watch it, I thought Letterman was hilarious. We
moved from Detroit to Connecticut in 1990 and the story was basically
the same. When he moved from NBC to CBS in 1993, I watched The Late
Show with David Letterman religiously every night that I wasn't
traveling. I watched it in bed from the opening monologue to the Top
Ten List. It was fabulous. My closest friends at work used to watch
the show the show. We would talk and laugh about his one liners and his
Top Ten lists. He was very fresh, timely, and very New York. We seemed
to be the right demographic for the show. It was almost as if we could
not get enough and we couldn't.
It took a year or two, but I finally figured out that The Late Show
with David Letterman was taped in Manhattan at the end of my work day.
So, I sent in a letter and asked for tickets. I did this a couple of
times and actually got to go on the show twice. It was pretty cool. I
loved being in the Ed Sullivan Theater. I could not believe how small
the set and theater were compared to what it seemed like on the TV. I
remember enjoying the show but, oddly, for the life of me, I cannot
recall the guests.
David Letterman lived in New Canaan, CT. We lived in the next town over
in Wilton. I remember seeing Letterman, on Spring and Summer Saturday
mornings, driving through town in bright red Ferrari. Very cool.
Yes, I religiously watched The Late Show with David Letterman. I
religiously watched it from from the first day it aired on CBS. After a
few years, something happened. Either I aged past the show's target
demographic or, dare I say it, it started to get stale and repetitive. I
slowly lost interest and in recent years have rarely watched him nor
have I watched any late night talk shows.
Because of how much I loved his show for a few years, I will certainly
watch his final show tonight. As Bob Hope would say and sing, "Thanks
for the memories."
Some favorite Letterman moments: