NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — David Letterman may be leaving ‘Late Night,’ but not without leaving his mark.
As CBS2’s Diane Macedo reported, long before there were viral videos, there was David Letterman.
“I kinda liked it when he dropped the watermelons off the top of the building. Or rode his horse down Broadway, that was probably my favorite,” said fan Loretta Retzback, of Philadelphia.
Photos: Fond Farewell To Dave
“It was around Christmas time and Letterman was on a go-cart and he drove the go-cart into the tree and the tree fell down,” recalled fan Victor Camuso, of Carle Place.
In fact, not too many people did a lot of things Letterman did. Television curator David Bushman said in many cases, nobody did.
“This whole self-awareness and irony, that was his innovation more than anyone else’s and it’s so lasting,” said Bushman.
Including moments like the David Letterman Christmas Special.
“He introduced his wife and his three children and they all came out and they acted like this was a regular Christmas special — sentimental and emotional, and of course really none of those people were related to him in any way whatsoever,” Bushman said.
Or regular features like stupid pet tricks, and not just four-legged pets.
“He took this convention and he totally twisted it in his own way,” Bushman said.
And in many ways, Letterman made New York City a star as much as he made himself one.
“I do like the way he got the local deli guy out,” said Adele Blanchard, visiting from Australia.
“We’d go to Rupert’s Deli just to say hello to him,” said Lawrie Senders, of Toronto.
“I loved that he had his mom on a lot,” said Patricia Myhill, of Ontario, Canada.
“He would bring the people of New York into the show and it wasn’t just the celebrities,” Bushman said.
Though many celebrities say Letterman did changed things for them as well, Macedo reported.
But while he’s famous for laughs, Letterman’s most impactful moments might have been his serious ones, like his first show after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Macedo reported.
“If you didn’t believe it before, you can absolutely believe it now: New York City is the greatest city in the world,” Letterman had said.
Both Bushman and all the fans who spoke with Macedo said it really boils down to this: whether he was serious, funny, flirty or moody, they felt Letterman was real. And his fearlessness when it came to taking risks has ushered in a whole new era of television and a very long-lasting legacy.