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David Letterman follows Jay Leno off the air: Comic Icon says he can marry Paul

David Letterman, the acerbic leader of the late night landscape, announced Thursday that he's planning his ride into the sunset. David, 66, told his audience at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan that his tenure as host of "Late Show with David Letterman" will end, "sometime next year," CBS said Thursday. Letterman remains the longest late-night TV host at nearly 32 years, combining his stint with NBC as the one who created "Late Night with David Letterman", which recently saw Seth Myers take over.

David Letterman announces his plans to retire. Images

"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," Letterman said. "What this means now, is that Paul and I can be married," according to Fox News on April 3.

David was referring of course to Paul Shaffer, who has been the bandleader for both of his shows since 1982. Shaffer started his NBC career by playing the piano player, behind Bill Murray's lounge act on "Saturday Night Live" in it's 70s inception and heyday.

A statement by CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves thanked Letterman for his contributions to the network.

"For 21 years, David Letterman has graced our network's air in late night with wit, gravitas and brilliance unique in the history of our medium," Moonves said. "During that time, Dave has given television audiences thousands of hours of comedic entertainment, the sharpest interviews in late night, and brilliant moments of candor and perspective around national events."

David told his audience that his leaving will be at least a year or so from now when his current contract expires. Letterman has the longest tenure of any late-night talk show host in U.S. television history, nearing 32 years.

It became epic show-biz fodder when Johnny Carson stepped down from the "Tonight Show" in 1992, and Letterman was passed over for Jay Leno, leading to his decision to jump to CBS. A TV movie was even made surrounding the debacle.

Jay Leno retired from "The Tonight Show" earlier this year, making way for "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon to take over the NBC legacy.

Who can ever forget Dave's recurring bit with Chris Elliott as The Guy Under the Seats? Or the many bits with Larry "Bud" Melman?

And then there's the iconic moment that Dave reunited Sonny and Cher for they're first hit "I Got You Babe." Not to mention Cher's infamous calling David out here.

Letterman recently told Howard Stern that Leno's departure would have no impact on his decision to stay on with his show. "I would do it forever if it were up to me," said Letterman, before adding wryly, "Sometimes, it isn't up to me."

Now the Hollywood insiders' tongues are wagging, wondering who will replace David, could it be Craig Ferguson?

No matter what, there will never be another Dave!

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