David Letterman announced his retirement Thursday from the “Late Show” after 31-years on the air.
In what started off like a typical show, Letterman quickly switched gears and explained, “I phoned Leslie Moonves – the man who owns this network – just before the program and I said, ‘Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great, the network has been great, but I’m retiring.'”
“You actually did this?” asked Paul Shaffer, Letterman’s band leader and sidekick since 1982.
“Yes I did,” confirmed the 66-year-old late night host. “So, I just wanted to reiterate my thanks for the support from the network, all of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theatre, all of the people on the staff, everybody at home — thank you very much.”
In his typical humour, Letterman later joked, “What this means now is that Paul and I can be married.”
“We don’t have the timing of this precisely down,” Letterman admitted, but did say, “I think it will be at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future — 2015, for the love of god, Paul and I will be, in fact, wrapping things up and taking a hike.”
Watch the announcement below:
It ended with the live audience giving Letterman a standing ovation:
CBS’ Leslie Moonves later released a statement on Letterman’s retirement:
“When Dave decided on a one-year extension for his most recent contract, we knew this day was getting closer, but that doesn’t make the moment any less poignant for us. For 21 years, David Letterman has graced our Network’s air in late night with wit, gravitas and brilliance unique in the history of our medium.
During that time, Dave has given television audiences thousands of hours of comedic entertainment, the sharpest interviews in late night, and brilliant moments of candor and perspective around national events. He’s also managed to keep many celebrities, politicians and executives on their toes — including me. There is only one David Letterman. His greatness will always be remembered here, and he will certainly sit among the pantheon of this business.
On a personal note, it’s been a privilege to get to know Dave and to enjoy a terrific relationship. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye. Fortunately, we won’t have to do that for another year or so. Until then, we look forward to celebrating Dave’s remarkable show and incredible talents.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.