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Your guide to David Letterman’s retirement tonight

1995: Drew Barrymore turns to the audience after flashing the host on Late Show with David Letterman
1995: Drew Barrymore turns to the audience after flashing the host on Late Show with David Letterman THE WASHINGTON POST

David Letterman takes his leave tonight after 33 years in late night and 22 years hosting the “Late Show.” Here’s a look back at his career after his arrival in 1982.

Letterman on Letterman

It’s time, but he’s torn, Letterman said about his retirement.

Photo gallery

David Letterman signs off

Top 10 highlights

Entertainment Tonight gives us the Top 10 moments with David Letterman over the years.

Here are some other big Letterman moments.

Quotes from Letterman

A few thoughts from Dave while he prepares to go.

  • Why did David Letterman like doing his show? “It makes you feel good about yourself. If you can get people to laugh, you think, ‘That’s great. That’s something I can do.’ It’s like if you run a restaurant and your specials turn out to be great, that’s fine. If people go home with food poisoning, that ain’t great.”
  • “We weren’t the first on TV to do man on the street comedy. Steve Allen did it decades earlier. But we were right on the cusp of when every local TV station got a remote unit and would go out talking to the locals. And by now it’s rampant: They’re interviewing six people who were there to hear the cab backfire.”
  • At age 68, and with an 11-year-old son, Letterman worries that history repeats itself. “We’re now our parents. I can remember I had just purchased the Beatles’ album ‘Revolver,’ and I had gotten maybe three or four tracks into listening to it when my mother stormed into my bedroom and said, ‘TURN! THAT! CRAP! OFF!’ So, is that who WE are now?”
  • As he anticipates retirement and being on his own, Letterman summarizes the career he’s concluding in very simple terms: “I was all taken care of. All I had to do was move to California and everything took care of itself. I went to the Comedy Store; that was fine. I went to ‘The Tonight Show’ (as a guest and guest host); that was fine. NBC gave me two shows (a short-lived weekday program followed by ‘Late Night’). CBS gave me a show (’Late Show’). So it was all taken care of. I was like, ‘Next!’ Now, nobody will be taking care of me but me.”

Bill Murray is one of last guests

Bill Murray has walked onto David Letterman’s show dressed as Liberace, a jockey and a football player, flown onto the set in a Peter Pan outfit, worked out while singing “Let’s Get Physical” and dove into a water-filled dumpster strewn with garbage. This week he did something else while saying goodbye.

(Video courtesy Late Show With David Letterman’s YouTube channel)

Sampling of musical guests

Through the years, there have been many great performances from singers and bands. Foo Fighters will be the final musical guest, but here are two.

Bottom line

David Letterman’s imminent retirement is bringing nostalgic viewers back to check out his final shows. Read: Letterman gets ratings boost with retirement near