February 1, 2012 by David K. Sutton
Late Night TV: 30 Years Of David Letterman
On this day in 1982 Late Night with David Letterman debuted on NBC. After 30 years and over 5000 episodes of Late Night and Late Show, Dave is still making people laugh each night.
Letterman has now surpassed his mentor and hero Johnny Carson as longest continuous host of a late night talk show. Carson did the Tonight Show just shy of 30 years – October 1962 to May 1992.
Letterman was host of Late Night on NBC until 1993 when he moved to CBS to host the Late Show with David Letterman. NBC passed on Letterman as Tonight Show host in favor of Jay Leno to replace the retiring Johnny Carson. It has been well-known that Carson preferred Letterman and he apparently had a large influence on Letterman’s decision to leave NBC. In fact, before Carson’s death in 2005, it was not uncommon for Letterman to tell a joke during his monologue written by Carson.
Since moving to CBS, Letterman has appeared in double the amount of episodes of Late Show compared to his old show, Late Night. Next year, on August 30, 2013, Letterman will be celebrating another anniversary, 20 years of Late Show on CBS. That is assuming he is still doing the Late Show because the current Worldwide Pants – Letterman’s production company – contract ends August 2012. I have no inside information but you have to think Letterman could be looking to retire within the next few years, not that I think he couldn’t continue doing his show for another 10 years.
Happy 30th Anniversary ‘On Late Night Television’ Dave!