Passage: David Letterman

It happened this week: word that a late night television era is drawing to a close.

CBS "Late Show" host David Letterman on Thursday made a surprise on-air announcement, following two conversations -- the first, he said, was with his 10-year-old son:

"I said, 'Harry, what if I retire?' 'Why would you retire?' And I said, 'Then I'd be able to spend more time with the family.' And Harry looked at me and said, 'Which part of the family?'"

His second conversation, Letterman said, was with CBS chief Les Moonves:

"I phoned him just before the program and I said, 'Leslie, it's been great, you've been great, the network has been great, but I am retiring.'"

Stupid pet tricks.
From his start as a television weatherman in Indianapolis, Letterman rose first to a daytime show in Los Angeles, then to "Late Night" at NBC in 1982.

After being passed over as Johnny Carson's successor on "The Tonight Show," Letterman moved to CBS, where he launched "The Late Show" in 1993.

To compile a definitive Top 10 List of Letterman stunts, gags and comic innovations would be an impossible task -- so fast did they come over the years.

His antics inspired a whole new generation of comics, though in an interview with "CBS This Morning"'s Charlie Rose in 2012, Letterman put it all in perspective:

"All it is is just showing off. You bring in a bunch of people who really don't want to be here and watch me, I'm going to show off."

And despite all the end-of-an-era talk, we can all STILL watch David Letterman show off.

He's not actually retiring until sometime in 2015.

For more info: