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.
Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert will succeed Late Show host David Letterman upon his retirement in 2015, CBS has said.
Stephen Colbert, 49, is host of acclaimed late-night satire program The Colbert Report.
David Letterman, 66, said last week he was retiring after 21 years hosting the CBS show and 11 years on NBC’s Late Night.
On his show, Stephen Colbert plays a satirical version of himself to mock right-wing pundits. He has suggested he will retire the character for the new show.
Stephen Colbert will succeed Late Show host David Letterman upon his retirement in 2015 (photo CBS)
“Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” CBS president Leslie Moonves wrote in a statement following the announcement.
“David Letterman’s legacy and accomplishments are an incredible source of pride for all of us here, and today’s announcement speaks to our commitment of upholding what he established for CBS in late night.”
Stephen Colbert’s biting brand of satire has drawn critical acclaim as well as provoking ire, often from the Republicans and conservatives he skewers.
Recently he was attacked on social media for a joke some viewed as disparaging toward Asian Americans but which he meant as a satirical jab at the owner of the Washington Redskins American football team.
Of his hiring to the Late Show top spot, Stephen Colbert said, “simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career.”
“I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”
During Friday night’s Late Show monologue, David Letterman discussed his retirement and the reason for leaving his longtime show.
Cracking wise about telling CBS boss Leslie Moonves about his retirement, David Letterman – who announced his plans to step down next year during Thursday night’s show – said that he called Moonves to break the news.
David Letterman announced his plans to step down next year during Thursday night’s show (photo CBS)
“I said, <<I’m retiring>>, and there was a pause and he said, <<Who is this?>>” David Letterman cracked.
David Letterman, 66, then semi-addressed the reason for his retirement.
“People are saying to me, <<Honestly quit the wise remarks [and] screwing around, why did you decide to announce your retirement?>>” David Letterman noted.
He then claimed that the decision had come from a recent conversation with his makeup artist Jane.
“She says to me, <<Dave, there’s really nothing more I can do>>,” David Letterman joked.