The last of the great late night talk show hosts is hanging up his hat. On last night’s Late Show, David Letterman announced that he would be retiring some time in 2015 from the show he has hosted since 1993. Before that, Letterman was the host of Late Night at NBC from 1982 until his departure to CBS (part of a chaotic series of events following Johnny Carson’s retirement from The Tonight Show that is covered brilliantly in Bill Carter’s book The Late Shift if you ever want to read more on the topic).
“The man who owns this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship for years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance. And I phoned him just before the program, and I said ‘Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great, and the network has been great, but I’m retiring,'” said Letterman.
“I just want to reiterate my thanks for the support from the network, all of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theater, all the people on the staff, everybody at home, thank you very much,” he said at the taping.
Les Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation, said in a statement: “When Dave decided on a one-year extension for his most recent contract, we knew this day was getting closer, but that doesn’t make the moment any less poignant for us. For 21 years, David Letterman has graced our Network’s air in late night with wit, gravitas and brilliance unique in the history of our medium. During that time, Dave has given television audiences thousands of hours of comedic entertainment, the sharpest interviews in late night, and brilliant moments of candor and perspective around national events. He’s also managed to keep many celebrities, politicians and executives on their toes — including me.”
Moonves added, “There is only one David Letterman. His greatness will always be remembered here, and he will certainly sit among the pantheon of this business. On a personal note, it’s been a privilege to get to know Dave and to enjoy a terrific relationship. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye. Fortunately, we won’t have to do that for another year or so. Until then, we look forward to celebrating Dave’s remarkable show and incredible talents.”
There’s no word on who will be taking over hosting The Late Show, but no one will be replacing him. The last titan of late night comedy is leaving the stage.