Following David Letterman’s surprise retirement announcement yesterday, many late-night talk-show hosts, all of whom began their careers during the three decades Letterman has been on the air, have begun paying their tributes.
Jimmy Fallon, who hosts The Tonight Show – the show that Letterman was vying for when Johnny Carson said his final good night after three decades – told The Hollywood Reporter that Letterman was “the greatest.” “[He is] one of the true innovators in TV history,” he said. “He’s made us all better.”
Similarly, Seth Meyers, who now hosts NBC’s Late Night, where Letterman began his nighttime career, credited his forerunner as a trailblazer. “Late Night, this was David Letterman’s show,” he said. “If it wasn’t for David Letterman, this show wouldn’t exist. If it wasn’t for David Letterman, I wouldn’t be here.” Moreover, he added, “I grew up on David Letterman. I remember we used to memorize Top Ten lists so we could tell them on the bus the next day.”
Finally, Arsenio Hall – who began competing against Carson on his Arsenio Hall Show in the late Eighties – acknowledged that Letterman was a “legend” as well as his competitor. But what really impressed him was the poise Letterman showed when Hall returned to late-night. “When I decided to come back to late night and compete against Dave, I received a phone call asking me to be a guest on Dave’s CBS show for the first time,” he said. “Dave put me on his show 72 hours before I debuted. Dave showed that the only thing that matches his comic genius is his class. [Late Show] might fill his time slot, but it can never fill the void he will leave behind. He is simply the best.”
David Letterman Full Retirement Announcement