David Letterman’s final show was one of the highest-rated shows of his career.
The final Late Show attracted nearly 13.8 million viewers on May 20.
The last time David Letterman had so many viewers was in February 1994, when his show aired after CBS’ coverage of the Winter Olympics.
David Letterman, now 68, began his late-night career on NBC in 1982, before moving to CBS’s Late Show in 1993.
The finale show, which ran 17 minutes over the usual hour, kicked off with a two-minute standing ovation.
David Letterman was joined by guests including Steve Martin, Peyton Manning, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey and Jim Carrey.
Foo Fighters performed David Letterman’s favorite song, Everlong. The rock band once performed the song, by request, after David Letterman’s open-heart surgery in 2000.
The finale also saw a rise in viewers for The Late Late Show, which followed directly after. Four million viewers tuned in to watch James Corden, the host’s highest rating over his first two months in the job.
However, David Letterman’s final show failed to draw in as many viewers as Jay Leno’s farewell from The Tonight Show in 2014, which averaged 14.6 million viewers.
Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s acclaimed late-night show The Colbert Report, will succeed David Letterman.
Celebrities and four US presidents paid tribute to David Letterman last night on his final late night talk show.
David Letterman’s final day as host of the late-night TV talk show has been a major media pile-on.
Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld and Foo Fighters were among stars paying tribute to the veteran talk show host.
David Letterman, 68, has bowed out after 33 years and 6,028 late-night broadcasts.
He joked that physicist Stephen Hawking had calculated it “works out to about eight minutes of laughter”.
David Letterman gave emotional thanks to his family, crew and viewers, saying: “There’s nothing I can ever do to repay you.”
He began his late-night career on NBC in 1982, before moving to CBS’s Late Show in 1993.
David Letterman’s final broadcast began with pre-recorded clips of former US presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton echoing fellow ex-president Gerald Ford’s post-Watergate remark that “our long national nightmare is over”.
President Barack Obama then appeared to repeat that statement before adding: “Letterman is retiring.”
On April 10, 2014, one week after David Letterman announced that he would retire as host of the Late Show, CBS announced that Stephen Colbert (host of competing late night series The Colbert Report on Comedy Central) would succeed Letterman as the host of the program.