Hollywood stars, presidents join Letterman for final act

Thu May 21, 2015 2:28pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hollywood stars Steve Martin and Tina Fey, comedians Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld and a host of U.S. presidents joined the band Foo Fighters on Wednesday to bid farewell to David Letterman as the veteran "Late Show" host signed off for the last time.

The show as expected featured no sit-down guest interviews, relying heavily on clips of Letterman shows going all the way back to his 1980s morning show on NBC.

It opened with news footage of former President Gerald Ford intoning, out of context: "Our long national nightmare is over," referring at the time to the Watergate scandal.

In succession, presidents George H. and George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and finally Barack Obama all repeated Ford's pronouncement verbatim, with Obama adding, "Letterman is retiring."

A bevy of top names turned up for one of Letterman's signature bits, the nightly Top 10 list, which was entitled "top 10 things I've always wanted to say to Dave." Barbara Walters, Jim Carrey, Peyton Manning, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Alec Baldwin, Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Bill Murray, Fey and Martin took aim.

"I'm just glad your show is being given to another white guy," was Rock's contribution, a reference to Letterman's successor Stephen Colbert who takes over in September.

Tributes also came from long-running television shows including "The Simpsons" and "Wheel of Fortune."

Notably absent was longtime rival and former "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, although Letterman quipped in his monologue "I'll be honest with you - it's beginning to look like I'm not going to get 'The Tonight Show.'"   Continued...

A man carries balloons from the "Late Show with David Letterman" outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan, New York May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith