Late Night with David Letterman

Late Night with David Letterman is an American late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman. It premiered on NBC on February 1, 1982,[1] and concluded on June 25, 1993. Letterman began hosting Late Show with David Letterman on CBS in August 1993. The series has since been reformatted as Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers.

In 2013, this series and Late Show with David Letterman were ranked #41 on TV Guide's 60 Best Series of All Time.[2]

Late Night
with David Letterman
Also known asLate Night (franchise brand)
Created byDavid Letterman
Written byMerrill Markoe
(head writer: 1982)
Jim Downey
(head writer: 1982–83)
Steve O'Donnell
(head writer: 1983–92)
Rob Burnett
(head writer: 1992–93)
Presented byDavid Letterman
StarringPaul Shaffer
and The World's Most Dangerous Band
Narrated byBill Wendell
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons11
No. of episodes1,819
Executive producer(s)Jack Rollins (1982–92)
Barry Sand (1982–88)
David Letterman (1987–93)
Robert Morton (1987–93)
Peter Lassally (1992–93)
Production location(s)Studio 6-A, NBC Studios
New York, New York
Running time42–43 minutes
Production company(s)Carson Productions
Worldwide Pants Incorporated (1990–93)
Space Age Meats Productions (1982–90)
NBC Productions
Original networkNBC
Picture format480i (4:3 SDTV)
Original releaseFebruary 1, 1982 –
June 25, 1993
Preceded byTomorrow Coast to Coast
Followed byLate Night with Conan O'Brien
Related showsThe David Letterman Show
Late Show with David Letterman


After his morning show on NBC was canceled in October 1980 after only 18 weeks on the air,[1] David Letterman was still held in sufficient regard by the network brass (especially NBC president Fred Silverman) that upon hearing the 33-year-old comedian was being courted by a syndication company, NBC gave him a $20,000 per week deal to sit out a year and guest-host a few times on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.

In 1981, NBC and Carson, after significant acrimony, reached an agreement on a new contract, which (among other concessions to Carson) granted the venerable host the rights to the time slot immediately following The Tonight Show.[3] All throughout 1981, in addition to guest-hosting the Tonight Show as outlined in the terms of his NBC contract, Letterman also frequently appeared as guest on the highly-rated program as the network groomed the 34-year-old for a new project. Finally, on November 9, 1981, NBC and Carson's production company Carson Productions as well as Letterman's newly-established production company Space Age Meats Productions announced the creation of Late Night with David Letterman, set to premiere in early 1982 in the 12:30 a.m. time slot Monday through Thursday, with occasional specials every few Fridays, all aimed at young men. The network wanted to capitalize on catering to young males, feeling that there was very little late-night programming for that demographic. The newly announced show thus displaced the Tomorrow Coast to Coast program hosted by Tom Snyder from the 12:30 slot. NBC initially offered Snyder to move his show back an hour, but Snyder, already unhappy with being forced to adopt changes to Tomorrow that he detested, refused and ended the show instead. The final first-run Tomorrow episode aired on December 17, 1981.

Broadcast history


The staff responsible for preparing the launch of Late Night included Merrill Markoe in the head writing role, seasoned TV veteran Hal Gurnee as director, Letterman's manager Jack Rollins as executive producer, and a group of young writers — most of them in their early twenties, including the somewhat more experienced 29-year-old Jim Downey who had previously written for Saturday Night Live and 27-year-old Steve O'Donnell. Markoe stepped down as head writer after a few months, and was succeeded by Downey who was in turn succeeded by O'Donnell in 1983. O'Donnell would serve as the head writer through most of the rest of the show's run while Downey went back to Saturday Night Live in 1984. Also on board, initially as a production assistant in charge of the "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment, was 21-year-old Chris Elliott. Elliott would quickly be promoted to writer and a recurring featured player.

The plan from the start was to resurrect the spirit of Letterman's morning show for a late-night audience, one more likely to plug into his offbeat humor. The show also got a house band, hiring NBC staff musician Paul Shaffer to lead the group; after several years on the show without a formal name, the band was eventually given the moniker The World's Most Dangerous Band in 1988.

Realizing that NBC executives exhibited very little desire to micromanage various aspects of the show, the staff felt confident they would be allowed to push outside of the mainstream talk-show boundaries and thus set about putting together a quirky, absurdist, and odd program. Snyder's Tomorrow re-runs continued until Thursday, January 28, 1982 and four days later on Monday, February 1, 1982,[1] Late Night premiered with a cold opening featuring Larry "Bud" Melman delivering lines as an homage to the prologue of Boris Karloff's Frankenstein, followed by Letterman coming out on stage to Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No. 1" behind a group of female dancers — the peacock girls who had also opened the finale of The David Letterman Show. After a brief monologue, the very first comedy segment was a sarcastic tour of the studio. The first guest, 31-year-old comedian and actor Bill Murray, came out in confrontational fashion, throwing jibes and accusations at the host as part of a knowing put-on. He remained for two more similarly sardonic segments in which he first presented footage of a Chinese zoo baby panda as a supposed home video of his recently adopted pet, before expressing newfound love for aerobics and pulling a crew member onstage, making her do jumping jacks along with him to Olivia Newton-John's "Physical". The second comedy piece was a remote titled "The Shame of the City"; taking a general format of a local news action segment, it featured Letterman touring several New York locations pointing out various civic problems with righteous indignation. The second guest was Don Herbert, TV's "Mr. Wizard", and the show ended with a young comic named Steve Fessler reciting aloud the script of the obscure Bela Lugosi film Bowery at Midnight.

The reviews were mixed[4]Los Angeles Times wrote: "Much of Letterman's first week did not jell" — but more importantly, the show drew 1.5 million viewers, 30% more than had tuned in for Snyder's Tomorrow.

On the third night, after baseball great Hank Aaron finished his interview segment with Letterman, a camera followed him backstage, where TV sportscaster Al Albert conducted a post-interview chat with Aaron about how it had gone. Eccentric and awkward, the show immediately established a sensibility that was clearly different from The Tonight Show.[4]

The show was produced by Johnny Carson's production company, as a result of a clause in Carson's contract with NBC that gave him control of what immediately followed The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Carson, for his part, wanted Late Night to have as little overlap with his show as possible. In fact, most ground rules and restrictions on what Letterman could do came not from the network but from the production company itself. Letterman could not have a sidekick like Ed McMahon, and Paul Shaffer's band could not include a horn section like Doc Severinsen's. Letterman was told he could not book old-school showbiz guests such as James Stewart, George Burns, or Buddy Hackett, who were fixtures on Johnny's show (the fact that Tonight had long moved to Hollywood and Late Night was taped in New York helped minimize guest overlap). Letterman was also specifically instructed not to replicate any of the signature pieces of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson like "Stump the Band" or "Carnac the Magnificent". Carson also wanted Letterman to minimize the number of topical jokes in his opening monologue.

Production and scheduling

Late Night originated from NBC Studio 6A at the RCA (later GE) Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. The program ran four nights a week, Monday to Thursday, from the show's premiere on February 1, 1982 until June 4, 1987. Friday shows were added on June 12, 1987, although the show still only produced 4 new episodes a week—Monday's shows were re-runs. (NBC previously aired Friday Night Videos in the 12:30 a.m. slot on Saturday morning, with occasional Late Night specials and reruns.) Starting on September 2, 1991, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was pushed back from 11:30 p.m. to 11:35 p.m., with Letterman starting at 12:35 a.m., at the request of NBC affiliates who wanted more advertising time for their profitable late newscasts.[5]


On September 30, 1991, A&E, a U.S. cable channel at the time partly owned by General Electric — the same corporate entity that owned NBC, began airing Late Night repeats in an effort of monetizing the show's vast accumulation of old episodes. The repeats aired less than a year, until July 24, 1992. The syndication deal was done without Letterman's blessing, and he frequently made his displeasure known on-air, feeling that having reruns air five nights a week, earlier in the evening on cable, diluted the value of the nightly first-run shows on NBC — fearing people would not be willing to stay up late for the first-run if they could watch the show at a more reasonable time. Because of Letterman's opposition, the syndication run was ended early and not attempted again until he had left NBC.[6]

In mid-1993, E! Entertainment Television purchased syndication rights to Late Night. The network aired complete shows from various years five days per week from 1993 until 1996. Then Trio (owned by NBC) picked up reruns and showed them from 2002 until the channel went off the air in 2005.

A number of programs were sold by GoodTimes Entertainment in 1992–93. These episodes were stripped of the series theme, open and close. No DVD release is currently scheduled (GoodTimes went bankrupt in 2005; the company's assets are now owned by Gaiam, which does not typically distribute general-interest programming).

Letterman moves to CBS

Letterman, who had hoped to get the hosting job of The Tonight Show following Johnny Carson's retirement, moved to CBS in 1993 when the job was given to Jay Leno. This was done against the wishes of Carson, who had always seen Letterman as his rightful successor, according to CBS senior vice president Peter Lassally, a onetime producer for both men.[7] On April 25, 1993, Lorne Michaels chose Conan O'Brien, who was a writer for The Simpsons at the time and a former writer for Michaels at Saturday Night Live, to fill Letterman's old seat directly after The Tonight Show. O'Brien began hosting a new show in Letterman's old timeslot, taking over the Late Night name.

When Letterman left, NBC asserted their intellectual property rights to several of the most popular Late Night segments. Letterman easily adapted to these restrictions for his CBS show: The "Viewer Mail" segment was continued under the name "CBS Mailbag," and Late Night fixture Larry "Bud" Melman continued his antics under his real name, Calvert DeForest. Similarly, the in-house band (now free to add horns) was unable to use the name "The World's Most Dangerous Band," so the name was changed to "Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra". The name "CBS Orchestra", approved by CBS (who retained rights to the name after Letterman retired in 2015), was Shaffer's idea. Notably, however, "Stupid Pet Tricks" originated on Letterman's 1980 early morning show The David Letterman Show, to which Letterman, not NBC, owned the rights. This meant "Stupid Pet Tricks" was able to cross over to the CBS show with its name and concept unchanged. With Carson retired, Letterman was also granted free use of some of Carson's sketches, and in due time, "Stump the Band" and "Carnac the Magnificent" (with Shaffer as Carnac) entered the Late Show rotation.

Both "Late Show" and "CBS Orchestra" are names from broadcasting's past. Beginning in 1951, The Late Show was the title under which some CBS affiliates, including network-owned stations in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, ran movies late at night. These films began after the late local news, generally at 10:30 p.m. or 11:30 p.m. local time. The Late Show would usually be followed by another film on The Late Late Show and, on a night when there was time to add a third feature to the schedule, The Late Late Show II. Movies were regularly shown under the Late Show umbrella title well into the 1980s, after which they were increasingly displaced by overnight news broadcasts and infomercials. Still, The Late Show continued to appear sporadically for more than another decade; the last Late Show film was shown in 1999.

Another series called The Late Show was an unrelated attempt by Fox to establish its own late-night talk show. It was Fox's inaugural series, premiering in October 1986 and running on-and-off for four years.

The CBS Orchestra was the name of the orchestra that occasionally played on the CBS Radio Network. The name was also seen as an homage to Carson's band, the NBC Orchestra.


Like most other late-night talk shows, the show featured at least two or three guests each night, usually including a comedian or musical guest.

Letterman frequently used crew members in his comedy bits, so viewers got to know the writers and crew members of the show. Common contributors included bandleader Paul Shaffer, Chris Elliott, Calvert DeForest as "Larry 'Bud' Melman," announcer Bill Wendell, writer Adam Resnick, scenic designer Kathleen Ankers, stage manager Biff Henderson, producer Robert Morton, director Hal Gurnee, associate director Peter Fatovic, stage hand Al Maher, camera operator Baily Stortz, production manager Elmer Gorry as NBC President Grant Tinker[8], and the "production twins," Barbara Gaines and Jude Brennan. The cramped quarters of 30 Rockefeller Plaza also often played into the humor of the show.

Letterman's show established a reputation for being unpredictable. A number of celebrities had even stated that they were afraid of appearing on the show. This reputation was born out of moments like Letterman's verbal sparring matches with Cher, Shirley MacLaine and Harvey Pekar.

Because of the creativity of staff writers like Merrill Markoe, Letterman's NBC show, in its first few years especially, had innovative segments and theme shows that were new and different from other talk shows of the time. Some were visual gags that owed a debt to pioneers like Ernie Kovacs and Steve Allen. Amongst the highlights were:

  • One early episode showed everything from Dave's eye view with Markoe and others coming at Dave to pitch ideas as he walked onto the stage, and the audience was shown from Dave's view during the monologue and the opening segments.
  • In another show, the picture turned like a clock, eventually being seen upside down halfway through.
  • There were segments where Letterman was dressed in a suit of Velcro and stuck (thrown) to a Velcro wall, a suit of chips and dunked into a vat of chip dip, a suit of Rice Krispies and doused with gallons of milk while lying in a huge bowl, a suit of Alka Seltzer tablets and dunked in water, a suit of suet, etc.
  • Visual segments showing things being crushed by a hydraulic press, thrown through fluorescent lights or dropped off an office building to smash on the ground, were also common.
  • Letterman's desk featured a control panel where he could operate a bubble machine, "radioactive" steam, a belch of New York soot or strange lighting.
  • When he threw his pencils through the fake window scene behind him, a sound effect of breaking glass was always heard. Occasionally, if sound effects technician Howard Vinitisky was slow in triggering the appropriate breaking glass sound effect, Letterman would mockingly chide Vinitisky for the error. (He would also congratulate Vinitisky when the sound effect was especially well-timed.)
  • A robotic arm for a while delivered the Top Ten List, and for another week or so, a complicated series of tubes would produce swirling coffee to eventually land in his cup on the desk.
  • Cameras mounted on a chimpanzee's back (Late Night Monkey Cam) or on the roof (Roof Cam) would show odd viewpoints of the set and its participants.

Other show format innovations related to the way individual episodes or segments were presented:

  • The Custom Made Shows allowed the audience to vote on each part of the hour, what they wanted to see, and the resulting shows had guests talking in high-pitched voices like they had inhaled helium (Jane Pauley refused to say a word during this, and answered his questions by writing answers on cards and showing them), sitting in dentist chairs or lawn furniture, the theme music replaced by the theme from Gilligan's Island, and an opening montage of the director's vacation photos.
  • Reruns were often scoffed at by Letterman, telling the audience not to waste their time watching next Monday. Sometimes the entire rerun would be dubbed into a foreign language for rebroadcast, baffling viewers.
  • Letterman once had a member of the audience host the show and interview guests while he left the studio (ostensibly to search for a missing tooth).
  • Letterman hosted the show from his home while waiting for his cable TV to be installed; another episode was done from the production offices upstairs, as the cast claimed they were "too tired" to go downstairs to the studio.
  • Crispin Glover and Oliver Reed frightened Dave with their nearly violent, confrontational behaviour in their appearances.

Recurring Late Night segments

  • The Top Ten List, from various "home offices": The very first, “Things That Almost Rhyme with Peas,” was presented on “Late Night” on Sept. 18, 1985. In 33 years, Letterman had presented 4,605 Top Ten Lists on shows.
  • Stupid Pet Tricks: The very first segment was presented on the morning show, “The David Letterman Show,” on June 26, 1980.
  • Stupid Human Tricks: A sister segment to the above-mentioned Stupid Pet Ricks, the first segment premiered on "Late Night" on October 3, 1983.
  • Nightcap Theater
  • Mr. Curious
  • Viewer Mail, a segment of humorous replies to letters sent in by viewers. After delivering his reply, Dave would then unceremoniously toss each letter out the "window" behind him with the familiar glass-shattering sound effect (see above). Usually seen weekly, initially on Thursdays, later on Fridays. Henry Mancini was at one point hired to compose a special "viewer mail" theme song ("first we read them, then we answer them"),[9] though after its first few appearances it was quietly dropped.
  • Flunky the Clown: A lazy, somewhat misanthropic "staff clown" played by writer Jeff Martin.
  • Dave Fires Old Henry: A recurring bit during Viewer Mail where something goes wrong, and the blame is pinned on longtime NBC staffer "Old Henry" (played by Wolfgang Zilzer AKA Paul Andor). In spite of the fact that Henry is two months away from retiring, Dave unceremoniously fires the old man to much disdain from the studio audience. (Henry often proved so sympathetic to the audience, Letterman would have to reassure them it was just a joke.) When Zilzer/Andor's health began to fail, he was succeeded in the role by writer Gerard Mulligan.
  • Supermarket Finds
  • Dave's wearing of various suits: the "Suit of Velcro" (Feb. 28, 1984), "Suit of Rice Krispies", "Suit of Alka-Seltzer", "Suit of Magnets", "Suit of Marshmallows", "Suit of Chips", "Suit of Suet", and "Suit of Sponges".
  • Dumb Ads
  • Lucky Numbers
  • Small Town News – a compendium of odd newspaper items, similar to Jay Leno's later "Headlines" segment on The Tonight Show.
  • Ask Mr. Melman (Larry "Bud" Melman)
  • Dave's Record Collection, real records but presented out of context, like a record of advertising jingles.
  • In May I Make a Phone Call for You? he would assist audience members who needed to place a call but were afraid to, because it was usually to communicate bad news. Letterman would make the call for the audience member.
  • Short plays presented by the Peace Through Dramatization Players featuring Marie O'Donnell and Jeff Martin, with less frequent appearances by Steve O'Donnell, Chris Elliott, and other Late Night writers and staffers. The plays would involve a "typical" American family (always attired in bright red sweaters) discussing a current topic of some sort, before Letterman would drop by to enlighten them with new information. By 1986, a regular feature of these sketches would be writer Larry Jacobsen appearing as race car driver Bobby Rahal; Rahal would be announced with much fanfare, but would never have any lines in his appearances. Also featured was "Rex", a stuffed dog who played the family dog in many later sketches.
  • A series of characters portrayed by Chris Elliott. Each of these characters made numerous appearances over the course of a few months before being retired, usually amidst much mock fanfare. Then Elliott would appear a few weeks later playing the next in his series of "Guy" characters.
    • The Conspiracy Guy (October 1983 – January 1984): Elliott would pretend to be an audience member and ask Dave a question. Things would quickly devolve into his character shouting and making crazy accusations about Dave before being forcibly removed from the set by two goons (played by Late Night writers Joe Toplyn and Sandy Frank).
    • The Panicky Guy (April 1984 – June 1984): Elliott would again pretend to be an audience member, who panics and runs from the studio at the slightest threat of danger (similar to doomed characters in disaster movies). Once in the hallway he would be run over and crushed by an advancing floor waxer, with his hands raised in terror. In one variation, he played a German Panicky Guy in Lederhosen, who was run over by a hand dolly full of cheese wheels. Regular players in the Panicky Guy sketches were astronaut Gordon Cooper (always heard over the phone, chatting with Elliott about the sketches); and Paula Niedert (a Late Night staffer and Elliott's wife) as his love, and later his wife.
    • The Guy Under the Seats (October 1984 – April 1985, plus a "lost" episode aired in December 1985): A short character-comedy bit by Elliott who emerges from a hatchway underneath the seats in the studio audience, and asks Dave for help in finding something. When Dave is unable to help, Elliott goes back under the stairs. Immediately following this brief interruption, Letterman then cajoles Elliott back up to take a bow, and discuss the sketch and the character, often in great and tedious detail. These conversations are usually much longer than the ostensible 'sketch' that had just been performed, and at some point Letterman will make an innocuous comment or innocent joke that causes Elliott to overreact. The sketches generally culminate with Elliott threatening Letterman with some metaphorically articulated future comeuppance, and withdrawing back under the seats with the admonition "But until that day, I'm gonna be right here, making your life ... a living hell."
    • The Laid Back Guy (May 1985): A one-shot character, whose major characteristic is his long flowing blonde hair and an extremely Californian "laid back" attitude. Performed when the show spent a week in California.
    • The Fugitive Guy (July–November 1985): Every so often, Letterman would introduce "Roger Campbell" (Elliott, wearing an extremely bad toupée), either as a segment guest or as a new member of the Late Night crew. In each appearance, "Campbell" would have a different job (e.g., gymnast, cue card holder, tambourine player for the band), and would grow increasingly nervous as Letterman amiably asked Campbell innocuous questions about his job and his life. Fairly quickly, Campbell would break down under the "grilling," and would then hear the approach of "the one-legged man" (Late Night writer Matt Wickline) and flee. This sketch was a parody of The Fugitive, and included a title sequence that parodied the original Quinn Martin TV series theme (with billing for Elliott, Wickline and Sandy Frank, usually seen as an unnamed assailant "Campbell" would have to fight while escaping.) The Fugitive Guy sketches concluded with a final episode where Campbell confronted the one-legged man in an abandoned amusement park.
    • Gerry & Baby (October 1985 – August 1986): Dave would introduce writer Gerard Mulligan, who had brought his (initially unseen) newborn baby Kevin to the studio for a visit. When revealed, "Kevin" would turn out to be Chris Elliott, dressed as and behaving as a baby. Seen occasionally even as "The Fugitive Guy" and "The Regulator Guy" were making their appearances.
    • The Regulator Guy (February–April 1986): A series of cheesily expensive-looking promos for a Terminator-like action character aired on "Late Night" over a period of several months, with Elliott playing the super-cool half-human, half-mechanical "Regulator Guy," even speaking with a bad Schwarzenegger-esque accent. Repeatedly promoted during "Late Night" as "Coming soon to NBC!", with Letterman even interviewing Elliott about the upcoming show, the "Regulator Guy" appeared only once in a sketch on Late Night. This appearance was a (deliberately) cheap and poorly-done affair, with the result that the Regulator Guy was cancelled part-way through his debut episode.
    • The New Regulator Guy (May 1986): Shortly after "The Regulator Guy" was retired, Elliott came back with a re-tooled version called "The New Regulator Guy." This character similarly did not last long, and ended with Letterman interviewing the New Regulator Guy's newly created sidekick character, Ajax, while completely ignoring Elliott (much to his faux-chagrin).
    • Skylark (May 1987): A flashy Las Vegas entertainer billed as a professional Chris Elliott impersonator.
    • "Marlon Brando" (July 1987 to January 1988): Letterman would announce special guest Marlon Brando, and a padded Elliott (usually carrying his belongings in grocery bags, and often wearing battered clothing or a Hawaiian muumuu and lei) would appear, doing an exaggerated mumbling Brando impression while being interviewed by Letterman. Later appearances would culminate in Brando's shambling, ritual "Banana Dance" (performed to Bent Fabric's "Alley Cat").
    • Chris Elliott, Jr. (January–September 1988): A take-off of Morton Downey, Jr., with Elliott as an aggressive, audience-baiting talk show host.
    • Elliot also appeared in other sketches over the years. In a recurring bit at irregular intervals, Letterman would announce an appearance by a Late Night regular such as Jack Hannah, Marv Albert, Jay Leno or Paul Shaffer – but Elliott would come out in costume as the guest. Elliott would then perform an interview segment in character with Letterman, ineptly parodying the guest's catch phrases and behavior.
  • The destruction (with comic effect) of certain items, including "Crushing Things with a Steamroller," "Throwing Things Off a Five-Story Building," and "Crushing Things with an 80-Ton Hydraulic Press."
  • Poetry with My Dog Stan
  • Charlie the Bubble-Eating Dog (who never actually ate bubbles)
  • Visits with Meg Parsont in the Simon & Schuster Building, in which Dave would have Hal Gurnee "turn on the external camera" pointed across the street to the office window of Simon & Schuster employee Meg Parsont. Letterman would converse with Parsont on the phone, as well as surprise her with gifts, guests, etc. delivered to her office. Parsont would make a return appearance on Letterman's Late Show in 1993.
  • Elevator Races
  • NBC Bookmobile
  • Peaboy (played by intern Dave Ellner wearing green tights and green Adidas, blowing athletic whistle, throwing frozen peas at audience)
  • Visits with Letterman's mother, Dorothy Mengering, via remote or telephone from Carmel, Indiana. After he moved to CBS, he later sent her as a reporter to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway as part of CBS's coverage.
  • Young Inventors
  • Marv Albert with The Wild and the Wacky from the World of Sports
  • Visits with Jack Hanna, who brought animals from the Columbus Zoo, of which he was the director.
  • Hal Gurnee's Network Time Killers: Introduced during the summer of 1988 (after Late Night had returned from a lengthy hiatus due to a Writers Guild strike), the feature included Hal Gurnee introducing bizarre time-killing features from his director's perch in the control room.
  • What's Hal Wearing?
  • Various 'cam' shots, including Late Night Thrill Cam and Late Night Monkey Cam
  • Los Problemas de la Vida Cotidiana(The problems of everyday life: Dave) : Dave ("como Dr. Suarez") shows off his Spanish language skills in this spoof of Latin telenovelas[10]


Primetime Emmy Awards

  • 1982–83 Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Comedy or Music Program
  • 1983–84 Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Comedy or Music Program
  • 1984–85 Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Comedy or Music Program
  • 1985–86 Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Comedy or Music Program
  • 1989–90 Outstanding Directing in a Variety, Comedy or Music Program

The show was nominated as Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series for 10 consecutive seasons, from its second full season in 1983–84 through its final season in 1992–93. Including the nominations for the CBS Late Show variant, the Letterman team was nominated 26 consecutive times in this category.


In 1991, the show's three production companies—Carson Productions, Worldwide Pants, and NBC Productions—were awarded a Peabody Award, which cited the following:[11]

Once a television wasteland, late night has become a daypart of increased interest to programmers, performers, and viewers. In the past ten years, one show has moved to the position of the leader in late night television in creativity, humor, and innovation. That program is Late Night With David Letterman. As one member of the Peabody Board remarked, "David Letterman is a born broadcaster." He is also a savvy co-executive producer. Along with co-executive producer Jack Rollins, producer Robert Morton, director Hal Gurnee, and musical director Paul Shaffer, Mr. Letterman has surrounded himself with exceptional talent and given them the go-ahead to experiment with the television medium. Particularly noteworthy is the work of head writer Steve O'Donnell and his talented staff. Together, the "Late Night" team manages to take one of TV's most conventional and least inventive forms—the talk show—and infuse it with freshness and imagination. For television programming which, at its best, is evocative of the greats, from Your Show of Shows, to The Steve Allen Show, and The Ernie Kovacs Show, a Peabody to Late Night with David Letterman.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Jory, Tom (February 1, 1982). "Letterman's going to stay up late". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. p. 11.
  2. ^ Bruce Fretts (23 December 2013). "TV Guide Magazine's 60 Best Series of All Time".
  3. ^ Bushkin, Henry. How Johnny Carson Nearly Quit 'Tonight' and Scored TV's Richest Deal Ever. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Rothenberg, Fred (February 6, 1982). "Letterman's Late Night dares to be unconventional". Daily News. Bowling Green, KY. Associated Press. p. 6B.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Carson Feeds Letterman Lines Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine. New York Post (Post Wire Services). p. 102. January 20, 2005.
  8. ^ Collins, Glenn (1986-07-27). "Can David Letterman Survive Success?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  9. ^ " The Official David Letterman Song Book".
  10. ^ "Classic Dave: Mexican soap opera (1990) on YouTube
  11. ^ Late Night with David Letterman – 1991 Archived 2009-06-24 at the Wayback Machine. Peabody Awards.

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Late Night era by host
1 February 1982 – 25 June 1993
Succeeded by
Late Night with Conan O'Brien
Preceded by
The David Letterman Show
David Letterman talk show
1 February 1982 – 25 June 1993
Succeeded by
Late Show with David Letterman
37th Primetime Emmy Awards

The 37th Primetime Emmy Awards were held on September 22, 1985. The ceremony was broadcast on ABC, from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, California.

The Cosby Show defeated two-time reigning champion Cheers to win Outstanding Comedy Series, one of three major awards it won. Although it only took home one major award, Cheers did tie the then-record for most major nominations by a comedy series (11), set by The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1977. In the drama field Cagney & Lacey, en route to winning four major awards on the night, defeated presumed favorite Miami Vice to win Outstanding Drama Series, four time defending champion Hill Street Blues still received nine major nominations, but only won one award. This was Hill Street Blues 18th and final major award, setting an Emmy record for a drama series that still stands.

The ceremony also had a memorable unscripted moment involving the arrest of impersonator Barry Bremen for grand theft while attempting to accept the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series award on behalf of Betty Thomas, who would show up on the auditorium stage a few minutes late

Adam Resnick

Adam Resnick is an American comedy writer from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He is best known for his work writing for Late Night with David Letterman.Additionally, Resnick co-created and wrote for Get A Life with Chris Elliott. Resnick also wrote and was co-executive producer of a season of The Larry Sanders Show for HBO. Two years later, in 1994, Resnick would team up with Elliott again for the motion picture Cabin Boy.

In 2000, Resnick wrote the film Lucky Numbers starring John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow.

In 2002, Resnick wrote the film Death to Smoochy which was directed by Danny DeVito.

Resnick also created and wrote the 1996 HBO television series The High Life.

In 2014, his book, Will Not Attend, was released.

Chad Myers

Chad Everett Myers is an American Meteorologist and the severe weather expert for CNN. Myers earned a bachelor's degree in meteorology from the University of Nebraska.Myers, a native of Buffalo, New York, joined CNN in October 1999, moving up from working as the Morning weather analyzer at WXYZ-TV in Detroit. He has received Peabody Awards for contributing to the Gulf War coverage, and for scientific explanations of the BP oil spill and its subsequent capping in the Gulf of Mexico. He recently covered the 2011 Japan tsunami and the nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors.

He was spoofed on Late Night with David Letterman after climbing into a mock-up of the Chilean miners' rescue capsule. The producers of the show shot him into the sun after showing him climbing into the mock-up.

In 2005 Chad had an on-air argument with anchor Carol Costello, when she kept interrupting him during a broadcast. He yelled "Let me talk, Carol!" after she kept calling him by name, trying to understand his weather report.In 2010 Myers claimed in an on-air interview that climatologists were only reporting the climate is changing because their jobs were at stake and "they worked for the government".

In August 2016, Bill Nye criticized CNN for having a "climate change denier meteorologist"; however, Myers wrote that subsequent to 2013's crossing of 400 ppm carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, he was no longer a skeptic, and had changed his views on the science behind climate change."I concluded that my original theory of 'it could be something else' wasn't likely the case."Myers was the subject of a segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, HBO's popular satirical news show, entitled "CNN Weatherman Chad Myers Hates His Job, His Life, and Everyone Around Him." The episode aired on February 22, 2015.

Chris Elliott

Christopher Nash Elliott (born May 31, 1960) is an American actor, comedian, and writer. He is best known for his comedic sketches on Late Night with David Letterman, starring in the comedy series Get a Life on Fox TV and Eagleheart on Adult Swim, as well as his recurring roles as Peter MacDougall on Everybody Loves Raymond and as Mickey Aldrin on How I Met Your Mother. He has also starred in the films Cabin Boy, There's Something About Mary, Scary Movie 2, and Groundhog Day. He is currently starring as Roland Schitt on CBC Television's Schitt's Creek.

David Letterman

David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He hosted late night television talk shows for 33 years, beginning with the February 1, 1982, debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, and ending with the May 20, 2015, broadcast of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. In total, Letterman hosted 6,080 episodes of Late Night and Late Show, surpassing his friend and mentor Johnny Carson as the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history. In 1996 Letterman was ranked 45th on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time. In 2002, The Late Show with David Letterman was ranked seventh on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.Letterman currently hosts the Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.

Letterman is also a television and film producer. His company, Worldwide Pants, produced his shows as well as The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and several prime-time comedies, the most successful of which was Everybody Loves Raymond, now in syndication.

Several late-night hosts have cited Letterman's influence, including Conan O'Brien (his successor on Late Night), Stephen Colbert (his successor on The Late Show), Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, and Seth Meyers.

Eddie Gorodetsky

Eddie Gorodetsky is a television writer and producer. His credits include Desert Bus, Mom, Two and a Half Men, Dharma & Greg, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Mike & Molly, Saturday Night Live, SCTV Network 90, and Late Night with David Letterman. He has been nominated for six Emmy Awards, winning one.He was working at WBCN in Boston when he was discovered by the producers of Second City Television.

He has made Christmas compilations for over 20 years which he sends to friends and family which feature rare and obscure songs from a variety of genres. He released one commercially in the early 1990s: "Christmas Party with Eddie G."

He also produced Bob Dylan's weekly radio series, Theme Time Radio Hour, and appeared in Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette's documentary The Aristocrats.Gorodetsky co-created Mom, a TV series on CBS that premiered in 2013.

I Palindrome I

"I Palindrome I" is a single by American alternative rock duo They Might Be Giants. The title track is one of three singles from Apollo 18, released in 1992 by Elektra Records. The song references numerous actual palindromes. In a review of Apollo 18, Karen Schlosberg said that the lyrics to "I Palindrome I" sound like "Edgar Allan Poe and David Lynch meeting the Monkees".They Might Be Giants performed the song on Late Night with David Letterman in 1992. Michael McKean recites the lyrics of the song in the documentary Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns.

Jeff Stilson

Jeff Stilson (born c. 1959) is an American stand-up comedian, writer and TV producer.

Stilson was born in Spokane, WA. He began his stand up career in Seattle, WA in the mid 1980s. As a stand up he has appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show, Comedy Central, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and is a regular guest on The Panel in Australia. He has also won two Emmy awards and received 14 nominations as a comedy writer and producer. Stilson was one of five comedians to appear on the 14th Annual Young Comedians Special for HBO in 1991. He worked as a writer for The Late Show with David Letterman, and as a producer and writer for The Chris Rock Show, Da Ali G Show, Last Comic Standing and The Daily Show, and many others.

Stilson is friends with Chris Rock and worked with him to make the documentary Good Hair, receiving a nomination for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay.

Jimmy Brogan

Jimmy Brogan (born September 18, 1948), sometimes credited as Jim Brogan, is an American stand-up comedian, writer and actor. He has made numerous standup appearances on the talk show circuit including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman. He was a writer on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for 9 years. As an actor, he starred in the ABC sitcom Out of the Blue.

Kevin Curran (writer)

Kevin Patrick Curran (February 27, 1957 – October 25, 2016) was an American television comedy writer. He wrote for Late Night with David Letterman, Married... with Children, and The Simpsons. He was also the voice of Buck the Dog on Married... with Children (except for several episodes in which Buck was voiced by Cheech Marin).

In the sixth season episode "Psychic Avengers", Curran appeared briefly onscreen during the end sequence where, thanks to Madam Inga's curse, the Bundy family is turned into chimpanzees and Buck is turned into a human, in which Curran is credited as "Buck the Man" above the usual final credited character of "Buck the Dog". In addition to writing episodes and voicing Buck, Curran served as a story editor and supervising producer on Married... with Children.

King for a Day (XTC song)

"King for a Day" is a song written by Colin Moulding of the English rock band XTC, released on their 1989 album Oranges & Lemons. It was the third single from the album, and reached number 89 on the UK Singles Chart. The music video featured a cameo appearance from guitarist Dave Gregory's brother Ian, drummer of the Dukes of Stratosphear. Their performance of the song on Late Night with David Letterman marked the first time XTC played a live show in seven years.

Late Show Top Ten List

The Top Ten List was a regular segment of the television programs Late Night with David Letterman and the Late Show with David Letterman. Each night, host David Letterman would present a list of ten items, compiled by his writing staff, that circulated around a common theme.

The lists were usually given humorous topics such as, Top Ten Signs Your Kid Had A Bad First Day At School or, Top Ten Rejected James Bond Gadgets or based on current events. Letterman would also occasionally give an intentionally absurd and mundane category, such as Top Ten Numbers Between One and Ten, drawing humor from the silliness of ranking such mundane items.


Letterman may refer to:

Letterman (sports), a classification of high school or college athlete in the United States

David Letterman (born 1947), American television talk show host

Late Night with David Letterman, talk show that aired on NBC from 1982 to 1993

Late Show with David Letterman, talk show that aired on CBS from 1993 to 2015

Jonathan Letterman (1824–1872), American surgeon known as the "Father of Battlefield Medicine" and brother of William Henry

William Henry Letterman (1832–1881), co-founder of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and brother of Jonathan

Letterman Army Hospital, hospital operating from 1898 to 1995 on the Presidio of San Francisco, named after Jonathan Letterman

Letterman Digital Arts Center, the home of several Lucasfilm units, located on the site of the former Letterman Army Hospital

The Lettermen, musical group

Mail carrier

Rob Letterman

Russell Letterman (1933–1990)

"Letterman", a 2017 song by American rapper Wiz Khalifa

Peter Lassally

Peter Lassally (born 1932) is a German-born American former executive who served as the executive producer of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Late Night with David Letterman, the Late Show with David Letterman and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Sid McGinnis

Sidney Foster "Sid" McGinnis (born October 6, 1949) is an American musician and guitarist, best known for his work on the CBS television show Late Show with David Letterman, as part of the CBS Orchestra.The Pittsburgh-born guitarist made his first appearance in the Late Night with David Letterman band in 1984 as a guest guitarist, and continued as a permanent guitarist with Letterman's television shows until Letterman's retirement.McGinnis has also toured and/or recorded with numerous artists including Warren Zevon, Ashford and Simpson, Barry Manilow, Peter Gabriel, Carly Simon, Dire Straits, Robert Fripp, The Sisters Of Mercy, Cool It Reba, Laurie Anderson, David Lee Roth, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Simon & Garfunkel and others.

So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)

"So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" is a song by the American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was released in May 1984 as the first single from the group's second studio album Reckoning. "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" became the second R.E.M. single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 85.

R.E.M. performed a rough version of the song on the NBC television show Late Night with David Letterman on October 6, 1983—before the song even had a title—in what was the band's first U.S. network television appearance.

Steve Bowman

Steve Bowman (born January 14, 1967) is an American rock drummer and songwriter. He was a founding member and drummer for the Counting Crows during the recording and period of time following their debut album, August and Everything After. The band's unexpected success led them to performances on Late Night with David Letterman, and Saturday Night Live. They toured with The Rolling Stones, were nominated for two Grammy Awards, and won an American Music Award. By 1994 they were also on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Bowman left the band in late 1994. In the next few years he went on to play with Third Eye Blind, John Wesley Harding, and Penelope Houston. In 1998 Bowman and his new band Luce recorded the song "Good Day", which was featured in the films How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and 13 Going On 30. Bowman also played on Luce's second

record which produced the hit single, "Buy a Dog."

Bowman is active as a session musician, released a book on drumming called Groove Control, maintains a drumming blog, and contributes freelance articles to various music magazines. He currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

They'll Need a Crane

"They'll Need a Crane" is a single and song by They Might Be Giants. In addition to vinyl and cassette releases, the single was released as a 3-inch CD. "They'll Need a Crane" was the first song the band performed on network television, in 1989 on Late Night with David Letterman.

Television hosting
Frequent guests
See also

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