Iconic late night host David Letterman announced Thursday he will retire from “The Late Show” in 2015. The 32-year veteran of late night talk shows turns 67 years old on April 12, and his announcement came as little surprise to CBS President and CEO Leslie Mooves, who issued a lengthy statement praising the talk show trailblazer.
“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,” he said in a statement. “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.
“There is only one David Letterman,” he continued. “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.”
Oddly enough, it wasn’t Letterman who first let the cat out of the bag, but REM bassist Mike Mills, who tweeted the news first. “Dave just announced his retirement #2015 #muchlovedave,” he posted on his Twitter account.
Letterman started his career at NBC, following another talk show icon — Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.” But after 11 years in Carson’s shadow, carving out his own brand of wit and talk show television, when Carson retired in 1993, NBC gave “The Tonight Show” to Jay Leno.
Letterman moved to CBS and continued his special brand of humor that was a huge hit with a variety of late night audiences, but especially the college crowd. He also became known for his Top Ten lists.
“The Late Show” has received 73 Emmy nominations and nine wins.
No replacement has been announced yet, and so the late night wars begin again for Letterman’s coveted chair.
But Letterman himself didn’t seem sad at the announcement. He thanked the network and all the people who work on the show and the viewers, but was looking forward to retirement.
“What this means now, is that Paul [Shaffer] and I can be married.”