Date
28 May 2017
David Letterman strikes a casual pose as long-time band leader Paul Shaffer applauds during the Late Show finale. Photo: The Globe & Mail
David Letterman strikes a casual pose as long-time band leader Paul Shaffer applauds during the Late Show finale. Photo: The Globe & Mail

David Letterman has left the building

He’s outta here.

After more than 6,000 broadcasts and 33 years in late-night television, David Letterman took the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater for the final time on Wednesday.

It was a mix of irreverence verging on the subversive and Hollywood panache as celebrities farewelled him in the iconic auditorium which has been home to his Late Show since 1993 when CBS bought it for US$4.5 million. 

Chris Rock, Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld, who have been frequent guests on the show, were on hand for the finale, according to Yahoo TV.

The long goodbye began weeks earlier, featuring a parade of characters from President Barack Obama and Tom Hanks to George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Billy Crystal and Tina Fey.  

It went on endlessly — Alec Baldwin,  Al Pacino, John Travolta and Julia Roberts who astutely observed “I think stupid people annoy you”.

Bill Murray, his very first guest on the program, appeared on the penultimate show, popping out of a cake and proceeding to give Letterman a bear hug covering him with frosting.

Letterman has been reticent about discussing future plans.

It’s clear that he is ready to let go of the daily grind of late-night TV in part so that he can spend more time with his 10-year-old son Harry.

But he also has betrayed conflicted emotions about giving up his day job.

In an interview with Jane Pauley on CBS Sunday Morning, he said that returning to the Ed Sullivan Theater, where Stephen Colbert will take over as Late Show host in September, would be too hard.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be back in this building again. Honestly,” Letterman told Pauley.. “I think it would just be too difficult for me… emotionally… because I just don’t want to come back and see others living our lives.”

Letterman is leaving the business a very rich man.

He owns multiple homes including a Manhattan apartment he lives in while in production on his show, an estate in North Salem, New York, and a 2,700-acre Deep Creek Ranch in rural Montana, according to news website Motley Fool.

He has also purchased several adjoining plots for the property which is a working bison ranch.  

A fleet of Ferrari’s worth more than US$1.2 million adorns his garage,  The Danbury News Times reported. He also co-owns Rahal Letterman Racing, an Indy Racing League team.

Combined, Letterman’s salary, his cut from his production Worldwide Pants, as well as his real estate and other holdings, give him a fortune of around US$400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, a number echoed by Travelers Today and About.com.  

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