Letterman will be wrapping up three decades on the air – the longest tenure of any late-night talk show host in American television history.
David Letterman ‘wrapping things up’, to retire in 2015
David Letterman’s departure from the late-night realm won’t just end an unmatched run on television. It also will close the book on an era reaching almost to the birth of TV.
During a taping of Thursday’s edition of Late Show, Letterman startled his audience with the news that he will step down in 2015.
He specified no end date, saying he expects his exit will be in “at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future – 2015, for the love of God, (band leader) Paul (Shaffer) and I will be wrapping things up.”
What he’ll be wrapping up is three decades on the air, the longest tenure of any late-night talk show host in American television history, since he launched Late Night at NBC in 1982.
But more than that, he’ll be ending a lineage of late-night hosts who pioneered talk and humour in the wee hours – Johnny Carson, of course, and, before him, Jack Paar and especially Steve Allen.
Ironically, they were all on NBC, the network that denied Letterman the Tonight Show crown he sought and, after he lost out to Jay Leno, prompted him to pitch his tent at CBS as Leno’s rival.
Letterman thanked “all of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theatre, all the people on the staff, everybody at home – thank you very much.”
Since premiering with Late Show in 1993, Letterman, who turns 67 next week, has reigned at Broadway’s Ed Sullivan Theater, a historic venue nearly a century old that was famously home to The Ed Sullivan Show.
Letterman will leave with an unparalleled comic legacy of weirdness, laser-focused sarcasm and an ironic sensibility that saturated the culture. “Letterman-esque” may not be in any dictionary, but his fans know what it means. -