Funny

TV Trivia: Late Show With David Letterman

Q1. Who was David Letterman’s first guest on both Late Night with David Letterman in 1982, and again on the Late Show with David Letterman in 1993?

Q2. Who did David Letterman credited for having the most influence on his career?   

david letterman, american comedian, talk show host, late show with david letterman, late night series, late night with david letterman, ed sullivan theater, new york, celebrity interviews, retirement, (Ed Sullivan Theater Late Show Sign 2004: Hey Paul | David Letterman 2015: Pete Souza)

David Letterman was born on April 12, 1947 in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he began his show biz career as a radio talk show host. He moved to television to star in a kiddie show, a Saturday morning talk show host, and local television anchor and weatherman. His weather reports showed his comedy slant:

From space you can see the border between Indiana and Ohio has been erased. I’m not in favour of this“.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1975, began performing at L.A.’s famous The Comedy Store, and wrote jokes for comedian Jimmie Walker’s stand-up act. In 1980 he had his own short-run morning comedy show on NBC, The David Letterman Show. Two years later he was back on NBC with Late Night with David Letterman.

Late Night With David Letterman

His late night journey began back in February 1982 on NBC with Late Night with David Letterman (1982-1993).

When Letterman failed to be given the retiring Johnny Carson’s timeslot by NBC in 1992, David departed for CBS.

Here’s a clip from that last NBC Late Night with David Letterman episode, with Dave’s wish list guest, rock legend Bruce Springsteen.

David Letterman’s timeslot on NBC was taken over by a young comedian/host, Conan O’Brien.

Late Show With David Letterman

The Late Show with David Letterman premiered August 30, 1993 on CBS

To woo Letterman away from NBC, CBS doubled his Late Night salary and signed him to a $14 million/year contract for 3 years, and renovated the historic Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City (to the tune of another $8 million).

Popular recurring segments on both Late Night shows (under different names) included stupid pet tricks, top 10 lists, reading viewers mail, etc. Canadian bandleader Paul Shaffer also appeared on both shows.

Comedian guest Robin Williams guest-starred on Late Show with David Letterman in 2005.

David Letterman was 58 then, a fairly new first-time father (his son was then 2 years old); Robin was 50+ and his usual on-air, funny self. Robin Williams died in August 2014.

David Letterman Retires From Late Shows

Letterman had said many times that he wanted to spend more time with his second wife Regina Lasko, and their 11 year old son Harry.

In an interview with Alexandra Klausner (Associated Press / dailymail.co.uk), he implied that he was feeling increasingly out of touch with today’s younger generations – the demographic that at one time, fueled the Late Show fires when the baby boomer generations were younger and could still stay awake after 11pm:

There’s no cure to being 68…the number of people who are wildly popular on television or music or the Internet that I don’t have any knowledge of is endless. I’m constantly going, ‘Who is so-and-so? Who LIKES so-and-so?’ It’s like I’m the drifter who’s wandered into town and doesn’t know anybody…” – David Letterman, 14 May 2015

On May 20 2015, he retired from Late Show with David Letterman, and ended a 33 year run as a late night talk show host.

Officially a senior citizen at age 68 when he retired, Letterman already had other irons in the fire.

He’d founded Worldwide Pants, a film and television production company, back in 1991. Worldwide Pants is known primarily for comedies and talk shows such as Everybody Loves Raymond, The Late Late Show, etc., and Letterman served as Executive Producer on many of their projects. 

His Netflix interview series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman premiered in 2018, and has included guests such as Barack Obama, George Clooney, Tina Fey, Malala Yousafzai, Melinda Gates, and Ellen DeGeneres.

A2. Comedian Bill Murray was Letterman’s first guest in February 1982 on Late Night with David Letterman, and again when the Late Show with David Letterman debuted in 1993. 

Both Bill Murray and David Letterman may have looked a lot younger then, but their humour carries on.

A2. Letterman was first invited to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1977, and in 1978 became a regular guest host for Carson. When Johnny Carson decided to retire, he made it clear he wanted Letterman to take over his time slot/show at NBC. Carson also appeared as a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman. Letterman has said Carson was the person that had the most influence on his career.

Note: This article was first published in 2015. It has been updated with new & additional content.

*Images & videos are believed to be either in the public domain, constitute fair use, used by permission, or Creative Commons licensed & sourced via Wikimedia Commons, Vimeo, YouTube, or Flickr, unless otherwise noted*

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & baby boomer writer Anita Hamilton has always been interested in the "real people" stories behind the characters that create and inhabit the world of music, books, movies, television shows, current events, history, etc. A lifelong love of research (ok, nosiness) and writing, combined with a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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