David Letterman’s New York City imprint spans four decades, three television shows, thousands of interviews and innumerable jokes coming out of the mouths of local comedians inspired by him.
Letterman, whose last show for CBS will air on Wednesday, has left a long trail of memories. Here are some of his many top NYC-centric moments.
On Aug. 19, 1985, Letterman started a feud with Bryant Gumbel by interrupting an outdoor taping of “The Today Show.” Equipped with a megaphone, Letterman yelled down from a window at 30 Rockefeller Center to Gumbel, Jane Pauley and Gene Shalit. “I am Larry Grossman, President of NBC News … and I’m not wearing pants!” Recently, Gumbel told Seth Davis on his Internet show: “I was angry, he knows it. If I could have gotten to him, I’d a hit him.”
In May 1992, Dave got a chance to take the field at Yankee Stadium to learn as he put it, “the lost art of baseball.” In this case, that included Dave intentionally getting hit by a pitch (a few times), and demonstrating two styles of spitting.
A CLASSIC LOCALE
In 1993, Letterman moved his show from NBC to CBS, and with the transition became instantly more visible. After 10-plus years inside the offices and studios at 30 Rockefeller Center, Dave’s name went up in lights when the show took up shop at the Ed Sullivan Theater, located at 1697 Broadway. CBS bought the theater in early 1993 and transformed it back into a full studio for a large audience after years of mixed use for various TV shows.
In 1995, Letterman and then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani together chose the “new tourist slogan” for NYC. Giuliani, who was in the studio, told NYC the winning slogan from the JumboTron at Times Square: “We can kick your city’s [expletive].”
Letterman’s greatest New York City moment had nothing to do with laughs. In his first show following the 9/11 attacks, Letterman delivered an emotional, unscripted monologue from his desk.
“If we are going to continue to do shows,” Letterman began with his voice cracking, “I just need to hear myself talk for a couple of minutes.”
Letterman lauded emergency workers and Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“Watch what this guy did. Listen to what this guy said. Rudy Giuliani is the personification of courage.
“And it’s very simple,” he continued. “There is only one requirement for any of us, and that is to be courageous, because courage, as you might know, defines all other human behavior.”