Let­ter­man’s Late Show turns 20, so here goes with a Top 20 list

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Verne Gay

NEW YORK — Late Show With David Let­ter­man on CBS turned 20 Thurs­day. So let’s get to the list, shall we? Twenty mem­o­rable mo­ments in chrono­log­i­cal or­der:

Aug. 30, 1993: First guest Bill Mur­ray spray-paint­ing “Dave” on the host’s desk. Other first guests Billy Joel, Tom Brokaw and Paul New­man (“Where are the singing cats?”) do not dam­age prop­erty.

Sept. 8, 1993: Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore wears gog­gles and smashes ash­trays. It was all in ser­vice of com­edy, but the ab­sur­dity of the screen grab — gog­glewear­ing vice pres­i­dent wield­ing ham­mer — did not help po­lit­i­cally.

Feb. 14, 1994: Dave’s mom, Dorothy Let­ter­man, joins the show as, umm, Dave’s mom, and in­ter­views Hil­lary Clin­ton.

March 31, 1994: Madonna dis­cusses sex and the var­i­ous parts of her body that are used to that end. She is heav­ily edited through­out — 13 times, in fact — which may be why the only rec­ol­lec­tion I have is of one long bleep.

May 13, 1994: Af­ter a week of air­ing the show from L.A., Johnny Car­son, in his last TV ap­pear­ance, closes it all down. He walks out, pre­sum­ably to do a Top 10, but takes Dave’s seat. He says not a word for 30 sec­onds, then leaves. “That was great,” Let­ter­man says. “That was great.”

April 12, 1995: Drew Bar­ry­more hops on desk, dances and flashes Let­ter­man, who doesn’t seem to mind in the least.

Oct. 28, 1996: That sa­lute to man­ager Joe Torre and the New York Yan­kees af­ter their first World Se­ries win in 15 years.

June 5, 1997: Far­rah Fawcett me­an­ders aim­lessly through the by­ways of her mind, con­found­ing all while es­tab­lish­ing her­self as a late-night TV le­gend.

Jan. 12, 2000: Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, af­ter en­dur­ing six years of Let­ter­man tor­ments and taunts, sub­mits to an in­ter­view (she was run­ning for se­na­tor).

Feb. 21, 2000: Let­ter­man made a tri­umphant re­turn af­ter his quin­tu­ple by­pass and had his med­i­cal team in at­ten­dance, in what may be the most mem­o­rable show of them all.

Sept. 17, 2001: The re­turn af­ter 9/11, with a suc­cinct sum­ma­tion of the hor­ror: “We’re told that they were zealots fu­eled by re­li­gious fer­vor... And if you live to be a thou­sand years old, will that make any... sense to you?”

Oct. 30, 2002: The en­tire edi­tion is de­voted to mu­si­cian War­ren Zevon — then di­ag­nosed with mesothe­lioma — who per­formed and spoke of what he’d learned in life. (He died in 2003.) Still prob­a­bly the best hour of Late Show.

Nov. 4, 2003: “Last night at 11:58, I be­came a fa­ther.”

Jan. 31, 2005: The Johnny Car­son trib­ute edi­tion, per Dave: “At the end of the day, that’s who you wanted to be there” — which is how, come to think of it, I feel about Dave.

Dec. 1, 2005: How could any list ex­clude the Su­per Bowl of Love in which Oprah Win­frey fi­nally ap­peared, end­ing what pop­u­lar cul­ture had de­cided was a “feud.” Dave was even nice, call­ing her “the most beloved woman in Amer­ica — de­spite the fact she gave us Dr. Phil.”

June 6, then June 15, 2009: Let­ter­man makes a pair of lame jokes about Bris­tol Palin. (Ex­am­ple: She was “knocked up” by A-Rod at a game.) He’s forced to apol­o­gize.

Sept. 21, 2009: Pres­i­dent Barack Obama be­comes the first sit­ting pres­i­dent to do the show. Let­ter­man hits the 5,000 shows in late-night TV mark three days later.

Oct. 1, 2009: The night a few mil­lion jaws clat­tered nois­ily to the floor when Dave ad­mits to mul­ti­ple of­fice af­fairs and re­lays a wild story about an ex­tor­tion plot gone bad. Later in the week came the apolo­gies.

Oct. 29, 2012: There was no au­di­ence be­cause of un­in­vited guest su­per­storm Sandy. Eerie si­lence per­vades the Ed Sul­li­van The­ater.

April 9, 2013: Lind­say Lo­han is asked, “How will this time be dif­fer­ent? What are they re­hab­bing?” She re­sponds: “We didn’t dis­cuss this in the pre-in­ter­view, I’m just say­ing to ev­ery­one.”


Bill Mur­ray (above) was Let­ter­man’s first guest when the show pre­miered in 1993.

Be­low, Hil­lary Clin­ton showed up to de­fend her­self in 2000.

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