NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After more than 30 years and more than 6,000 shows, David Letterman‘s legendary career in television will come to a close tonight.
He will officially say goodbye to “The Late Show” at the Ed Sullivan Theater Wednesday night.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, the last we saw of Letterman was a glimpse through the stage door – all smiles and a wave to the crowd.
Letterman’s people kept a lid on security for the show, releasing only the first few moments. A YouTube video showed his final run across the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater, 1697 Broadway, and the audience wildly cheering.
Following the show, Letterman looked like he was leaving in a fake limousine, but it was a decoy. He sneaked out the door of Angelo’s Pizza in the Ed Sullivan Theater building in a white jacket and went on to the after-party at the Museum of Modern Art.
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CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Letterman’s wife and son were to be present for the finale, and there were also to be plenty of surprises – including one that even Letterman himself didn’t know about.
And secrecy surrounded just who Letterman’s final guests were until the show aired late Wednesday into early Thursday.
However, rockers Foo Fighters let at least one cat out of the bag.
Other celebrities spotted at the Ed Sullivan Theater included Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Peyton Manning, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey and Barbara Walters.
Mayor Bill de Blasio officially proclaimed it “Late Show With David Letterman” day.
“Congrats,” de Blasio Tweeted. “You’ve earned your place in history.”
“For more than 30 years, we’ve all stayed up later than we should to watch the comedic genius of David Michael Letterman. From his Stupid Pet Tricks and Top Ten lists to always keeping guests on their toes – New Yorkers and Americans alike have happily traded rest for reveling in The Late Show’s best moments,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “In the wake of 9/11, he helped us heal and brought us together with his strength, compassion and inspiration. Night in and night out, throughout thousands of tapings and guests from around the world, Dave made it clear that he felt lucky to be in the middle of New York City. Together with his stalwart sidekick Paul Shaffer, he ushered in a new generation of late night comedy that has both inspired and influenced countless comedians and hosts. After tonight, we will all feel a little lost without our late night legend – but also a little relieved that we no longer have to worry about objects flying off the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater.”
Many, many attendees were still giddy when they emerged out onto the street after the 90-minute show taping.
“I just feel honored to be one of the 450 people in the world to experience Letterman’s final, final show,” said Sanjay Chhauba of East Brunswick, New Jersey.
“It was the end of an era,” said Lori Watzman of Washington, D.C. “It was so touching. It was wonderful.”
“It was fantastic — Paul Shaffer with his outfit – that beautiful outfit that he was wearing; and the orchestra, the music, and when David Letterman came out,” said audience member Ira Weintraub. “It was, like, moving. It was energetic.”