Thirty Years of David Letterman

Elder statesman David Letterman (Getty Images)

Today marks the thirtieth anniversary of David Letterman’s first foray into wee-hours broadcasting–NBC’s Late Night With David Letterman premiered on this date in 1982. What a thirty years it’s been–marked by guest misbehavior (Madonna, Drew–we’re looking at you), tricks both pet and human, and ever-pricklier interviews with starlets who keep failing to learn from history that they’ll have a tough time with Dave.

Mr. Letterman’s marking the occasion by hosting favored guest Howard Stern on tonight’s show. Mr. Letterman’s time on late night is marked by a significant shift–he left NBC for CBS in 1992 at the culmination of the war over Johnny Carson’s seat that landed Jay Leno at The Tonight Show. Heaven only knows which of the two will retire first–Mr. Letterman’s looking comfortable at his pearl anniversary.