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Jeff Simon's thoughts on debut of 'The David Letterman Show' in 1980 and more

Everyone is understandably discussing David Letterman's finale, but we will provide a look back at the debut of his network show in June 1980. Also included here are reviews from News Arts Editor Jeff Simon of Letterman in August 1981 and September 1993, shortly after his CBS "Late Show with David Letterman" premiered.

Simon discusses:

It wasn’t easy being on David Letterman’s side in 1980. When his ill-fated morning show premiered on NBC for its micro-run, I thought he was  the most exciting talk show host since Carson and the wildest, by far, since Steve Allen, whose illegitimate son he seemed, right from the beginning. I remember having a, uhhhhh, vigorous discussion with a TV editor back then on how long it would be before Letterman was put back on a train to Indiana, never to return to the big time again. Momentarily was his judgement. Mine was that Letterman was the coolest thing to hit the air in ages. So, yeah, the morning show died quickly but left so many joyous memorie in its tiny audience that Carson took up Letterman’s case and Letterman hit the airwaves with a 12:30 show in 1982 and late-night history was never the same again.

I ask you, how could morning television not respond, in 1980, to a household hints lady named Mrs. Marv Mendenall who dealt with the terrible domestic problem of “how to freshen up a room that’s gone a little stale because of room air freshener?” Her solution? “Cook with garlic.”

David Letterman was off and running. ...

June 29, 1980

Aug. 30, 1981

Sept. 3, 1993: Dave's the one: It's early in the game, but the late-night Super Bowl is over

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