He’d filled in for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show many times, and then NBC invented a new show for him. Check out this interview with Bill Murray from the very first “Late Night With David Letterman,” February 1, 1982.
The show ran Monday through Thursday at 12:30 a.m., immediately following The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (a Friday night broadcast was added in June 1987).
Late-night viewers, especially college students, found Letterman to be edgy and unpredictable, and he soon developed a cult following. Letterman garnered a reputation for being a smart-assed interview after tangling with Cher (who even called him an asshole on the air), Shirley MacLaine, Charles Grodin, and Madonna (who swore like a sailor on his show). Go to 2:30 for the start of the f-bombs…
NOT SAFE FOR WORK OR CHILDREN!
And, on a very serious note, we’ll never forget Dave’s moving 9-11 speech, just after the attacks. Audio here.