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NEW YORK — David Letterman will have many late night salutes before he signs off next month, but he will also have one profound good-bye in primetime.

CBS announced on Thursday that it will air “David Letterman: A Life on Television,” a 90-minute event that will honor the legendary late night host’s widespread impact on television.

The special, which will air on May 4 at 9:30 p.m ET, is just one of the honors CBS has planned for the host.

A star-studded guest list for his final run of shows and the “Legends on Letterman” online music series — which brings together some of the show’s biggest musical guests — are all planned leading to Letterman’s farewell.

The retrospective will be hosted by former CBS star Ray Romano, whose popular sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond” was produced by Letterman’s production company, “Worldwide Pants.”

According to CBS, “A Life On Television” will “mine the video vault” highlighting Letterman’s best interviews with celebrities and world leaders.

It will include some of his favorites from over the years like “Stupid Pet Tricks” and his signature Top Ten lists.

The special won’t be all laughs, however. It will also include Letterman’s first show after the September 11 attacks along with other emotional moments.

There will be plenty for the CBS special to showcase since according to the network, Letterman, 68, will have hosted 6,028 late night broadcasts by the time he retires.

(Many of those shows were on NBC’s “Late Night” prior to Letterman moving to CBS in 1993.)

As we get closer to Letterman’s end date, it’s safe to assume that the network, as well as TV in general, will continue to recognize the host’s special place in the medium.

Letterman’s final “Late Show” will air May 20.

David Letterman


As David Letterman approaches his final broadcast of the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN on Wednesday, May 20, he has amassed an impressive tally of milestones throughout his more than three decades in broadcasting. Below are just some of those highlights from his illustrious career.

As of May 20, 2015, there will have been 6,028 broadcasts of Letterman’s late night talk shows:

  • “Late Night with David Letterman” had 1,810 broadcasts and ran for 595 weeks.
  • The LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN has had 4,214 broadcasts, as well as four primetime specials, and has run for 1,135 weeks.

The first face to appear on both “Late Night” and the LATE SHOW was that of Calvert DeForest (or, as he was known on “Late Night,” “Larry ‘Bud’ Melman”).

Bill Murray was the first guest on the premiere broadcasts of both “Late Night” on Feb. 1, 1982 and the LATE SHOW on CBS on August 30, 1993. As of May 20, 2015, he will have appeared on Letterman’s late night talk shows 44 times.

  • 12 appearances on “Late Night”
  • 32 appearances on the LATE SHOW

Over 33 years, Letterman’s talk shows have received 16 Emmy Awards and 112 Emmy Award nominations.

  • “Late Night” won five Emmy Awards and received 35 Emmy nominations.
  • LATE SHOW won nine Emmy Awards and received 72 Emmy nominations.
  • Letterman’s 1980 daytime program, “The David Letterman Show,” earned two Emmy Awards and five Emmy nominations.

As of May 20, 2015, there will have been 19,932 guest appearances in more than 33 years on Letterman’s late night shows:

  • Late Night – 5,850 guest appearances
  • LATE SHOW – 14,082 guest appearances (approximate)

Over the years, two of Letterman’s signature segments have been Stupid Pet Tricks and Stupid Human Tricks. The very first Stupid Pet Tricks segment made its debut on Letterman’s morning show, “The David Letterman Show,” on June 26, 1980, and the first Stupid Human Tricks segment premiered on “Late Night” on Oct. 3, 1983.

  • There have been a total of 126 Stupid Pet Tricks segments on Letterman’s late night shows:
    · “Late Night”: 73 segments
    · LATE SHOW: 53 segments
  • There have been a total of 89 Stupid Human Tricks segments:
    · “Late Night”: 30 segments
    · LATE SHOW: 59 segments

The “king” of “Late Night” appearances was sportscaster Marv Albert, with 73 to his credit. Other top guests were:

  • Richard Lewis 48 appearances
  • George Miller, Tom Brokaw 40 appearances
  • Jay Leno 39 appearances
  • Teri Garr, Robert Klein 30 appearances

Regis Philbin holds the title of “Most LATE SHOW Appearances,” with a total of 136. Other top LATE SHOW guest appearances (as of May 20, 2015) are:

  • Jack Hanna 75 appearances
  • Tony Randall 70 appearances
  • Marv Albert 52 appearances
  • Tom Brokaw 49 appearances

The very first Top Ten List, “Things That Almost Rhyme with Peas,” was presented on “Late Night” on Sept. 18, 1985. In 33 years, Letterman will have presented 4,605 Top Ten Lists on his late night programs.

  • “Late Night”: 1,009 Top Ten Lists
  • LATE SHOW: 4,605 Top Ten Lists

Letterman’s fictional Top Ten Office has made its home in 11 different cities. The state of Nebraska earns the distinction of having the most Top Ten Home Offices than any other state, with a total of three. The Top Ten Home Offices from all 25 years are:

  •  Milwaukee, Wisc. (the first “Late Night” home office)
  • Lebanon, Pa.
  • Lincoln, Neb.
  • Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Omaha, Neb.
  • Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Tahlequah, Okla.
  • Oneonta, N.Y. (the last “Late Night” home office)
  • Sioux City, Iowa (the first LATE SHOW home office)
  • Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Wahoo, Neb. (the current LATE SHOW home office)

The “Late Night” and LATE SHOW theme songs were both written and composed by Paul Shaffer.

 On “Late Night,” Letterman donned a number of different “suits.” Most memorable was the “Suit of Velcro,” which he first wore on Feb. 28, 1984. While wearing the suit, he ran, jumped on a trampoline and hurled himself at a Velcro wall, to which he stuck. Other “suits” include:

  • Suit of Alka-Seltzer – Wearing protective goggles and an oxygen tank, he was lowered into a 1,000-gallon tank of water, whereupon his suit began to fizz and vaporize.
  • Suit of Magnets – He attached himself to the door of an oversized GE refrigerator.
  • Suit of Marshmallows – An attempt to roast the marshmallows by a propane torch failed, so the studio audience got to snack on Dave.
  • Suit of Chips – Dave was lowered into a glass tank filled with 1,000 gallons of yogurt dip.
  • Suit of Rice Krispies – He “snap, crackled and popped” after being dunked in a large tub of milk.
  • Suit of Suet – Dave donned a suit of suet-and-birdseed packets and entered a pen of farm animals (including goats and chickens) that fed on him.
  • Suit of Sponges – He was dunked in a 1,000-gallon glass tank of water and tipped the scale at 500 pounds.Late Show Sign