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(May 18, 2015) – 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 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” 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 Aug. 30, 1993. As of May 20, 2015, he will have appeared on Letterman’s late night talk shows 44 times, with 12 appearances on “Late Night” and 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)

Stupid Pet Tricks, Stupid Human Tricks

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, with 73 on “Late Night” and 53 on “Late Show”
  • There have been a total of 89 Stupid Human Tricks segments, with 30 on “Late Night” and 59 on the “Late Show”

Notable Guests

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 guest appearances (as of May 20, 2015) are:

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

Top Tens

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)

Theme Songs

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

Dave’s Suits

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.

Letterman’s final show airs May 20 on CBS4. As we say goodbye to David Letterman this week, be sure to say #ThanksDave on social media.