On Thursday afternoon, David Letterman told his Late Show audience that he's retiring from the series he created more than 20 years ago.
"The man who owns 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,'" Letterman said at Thursday's taping of The Late Show. "I just want to reiterate my thanks for the support from the network, all of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theater, all the people on the staff, everybody at home, thank you very much. What this means now, is that Paul [Shaffer] and I can be married."
Letterman said there was no precise timetable for his retirement, but that "it will be at least a year or so ... 2015."
After his announcement, Letterman, whose late night career has spanned more than three decades, received a standing ovation from the audience in the Ed Sullivan Theater. He has been the only host of The Late Show, which he created on CBS in 1993.
Former R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, who's appearing on Thursday's The Late Show with singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur, broke the news of Letterman's announcement on Twitter.
Soon, comedians started to weigh in.
During his Thursday show, Seth Meyers also praised Letterman's legacy.
As for Letterman's successor, according to a 2012 report from the New York Times' Bill Carter, current The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson's contracts with CBS have included a clause that gives him the right to inherit the 11:35 p.m. timeslot should Letterman leave. But, Carter pointed out, the network can choose to pay off the deal instead.