David Letterman Retires Next Year

The curtains are closing on another era in late-night TV. David Letterman just put his papers in…potentially sending longtime fan Howard Stern into cardiac arrest.

The comedy fixture, star of CBS’ Late Show since 1993, announced Thursday that he plans to retire in 2015. Letterman, who joined CBS after an acrimonious split with NBC, made the announcement to his studio audience during a Thursday afternoon taping.

“The man who (runs) this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship for years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance. And I phoned him just before the program, and I said ‘Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great, and the network has been great, but I’m retiring…We don’t have the timetable for this precisely down — I think it will be at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future, 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up.”

In 2013, Dave re-upped his contract with CBS in a two-year deal that expires next year.. At 66, Dave is the oldest host in a field of younger competitors; among them Jimmy Fallon (39), Seth Meyers (40), Jimmy Kimmel (46) and Conan O’Brien (50). Interestingly enough, Carson — Dave’s idol — was also 66 when he decided to stay home and start collecting Social Security.

One of Dave’s late-night rivals, admitted super-fan Jimmy Kimmel, has already responded to news of Letterman’s retirement, tweeting this sentiment:

“David @Letterman is the best there is and ever was.”

Letterman made his late-night debut in 1982, appearing as the first host of NBC’s Late Night. He abruptly exited the network a decade later, when NBC suits selected Jay Leno to succeed Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show.

Next order of business: Final guests and Late Night successor. Thoughts on this?