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David Letterman By The Numbers: 33 Years Of Fun Facts & Figures

Letterman On 'Late Night With David Letterman'
David Letterman sits at his desk on the television series 'Late Night with David Letterman,' New York, New York, 1986. (Photo by NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images)

As David Letterman approaches his final broadcast of the "Late Show with David Letterman" on Wednesday, May 20, he has amassed an impressive tally of milestones throughout his more than three decades in broadcasting. Here are just some of those highlights from his illustrious career. 

As of May 20, 2015, there will have been 6,028 broadcasts of Letterman’s late night talk shows:

  • “Late Night with David Letterman” had 1,810 broadcasts and ran for 595 weeks, with 5,850 guest appearances
  • The "Late Show with David Letterman" has had 4,214 broadcasts, as well as four primetime specials, and has run for 1,135 weeks, with approximately 14,082 guest appearances

PHOTOS: Letterman's Greatest Musical Guests

Bill Murray

Bill Murray
Bill Murray spray paints Dave's desk on the first taping of the Late Show with David Letterman, August 30, 1993 on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Alan Singer/CBS ©1993 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved

Bill Murray was the first guest on the premiere broadcasts of both “Late Night” on Feb. 1, 1982 and the "Late Show" on CBS on August 30, 1993. As of May 20, 2015, he will have appeared on Letterman’s late night talk shows 44 times.

  • 12 appearances on “Late Night”
  • 32 appearances on the "Late Show"

Emmy Awards

David Letterman Emmys
David Letterman added the sixth

Over 33 years, Letterman’s talk shows have received 16 Emmy Awards and 112 Emmy Award nominations.

  • “Late Night” won five Emmy Awards and received 35 Emmy nominations.
  • "Late Show" won nine Emmy Awards and received 72 Emmy nominations.
  • Letterman’s 1980 daytime program, “The David Letterman Show,” earned two Emmy Awards and five Emmy nominations

Stupid Tricks

Over the years, two of Letterman’s signature segments have been Stupid Pet Tricks and Stupid Human Tricks. The very first Stupid Pet Tricks segment made its debut on Letterman’s morning show, “The David Letterman Show,” on June 26, 1980, and the first Stupid Human Tricks segment premiered on “Late Night” on Oct. 3, 1983.



There have been a total of 126 Stupid Pet Tricks segments on Letterman’s late night shows:

  • “Late Night”: 73 segments
  • "Late Show": 53 segments

There have been a total of 89 Stupid Human Tricks segments:

  • “Late Night”: 30 segments
  • "Late Show": 59 segments

Top Tens

Letterman's First Top Ten
Photo Credit Screen Grab via NBC

The very first Top Ten List, “Things That Almost Rhyme with Peas,” was presented on “Late Night” on Sept. 18, 1985. In 33 years, Letterman will have presented 4,605 Top Ten Lists on his late night programs.

  • “Late Night”: 1,009 Top Ten Lists
  • "Late Show": 4,605 Top Ten Lists

Paul Shaffer

The “Late Night” and "Late Show" theme songs were both written and composed by Paul Shaffer.

CBS will salute David Letterman and his legendary broadcasting career with “David Letterman: A Life On Television,” a 90-minute primetime special celebrating his more than three decades in television, on Monday, May 4 (9:30-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on CBS

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