The legendary TV talk-show host, David Letterman announced his plans to retire next year from the “Late Show With David Letterman” after being in the show for almost 22 years.
During a taping of Thursday’s show, the 66-year-old host unexpectedly informed the audience saying “it will be at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future, 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up,” he added, referring to his longtime band leader Paul Shaffer.
Letterman, who hosted “The Late Show” since 1993, said that he had had a conversation just before the program with CBS boss Leslie Moonves, telling him “it’s been great, you’ve been great, and the network has been great, but I’m retiring.”
“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,” said the longest running TV host in the history of television, since he launched Late Night at NBC in 1982.
Letterman, who will celebrate his 67th birthday next week, has also surpassed legendary late night host Johnny Carson as the oldest host on late night. Carson was 66 when he retired from The Tonight Show in 1992, says E!Online.
Letterman’s announcement sparked a standing ovation from his much-surprised audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater in midtown Manhattan. It also fired speculation on who will take the place of a pioneer in talk and humor in the small hours. Some believe that the network might hire someone younger, following the example of NBC, when Jay Leno was replaced by Jimmy Fallon.
There is a rumor that CBS might promote Craig Ferguson and give him the job, however, Ferguson told Reuters in 2010 that he had no interest in being the heir apparent. Unlike, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, who told TV Guide that he would consider jumping to CBS once Dave Letterman retired. After the news broke Kimmel tweeted that Letterman “is the best there is and ever was.”
Letterman began his television career in 1969 working as an announcer and weekend weatherman at WLWI (now WTHR), an ABC affiliate in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has been a staple of late night since 1982, when he began hosting the NBC show “Late Night with David Letterman.”
Last year, The Late Show reached its milestone 20th anniversary. Since its debut in 1993, the talk show has earned nine Emmy Awards, as well as 73 Emmy nominations.
In a statement Moonves said that “we knew this day was getting closer” when Letterman went with a one-year extension for his contract, “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,” Moonves stated. “There is only one David Letterman,” Moonves added. “His greatness will always be remembered here, and he will certainly sit among the pantheon of this business.”