Snakkle Celebrates 30 Years of David Letterman with a Look Back at His Top 10 Moments!In 1982, Prince William was born, ET: The Extra Terrestrial charmed children everywhere, and Time Magazine’s Man of the Year was a computer. But can glowing fingers and the future King of England compare to the premiere of Late Night with David Letterman? The show, which began in 1982 on NBC, continued until 1993. That’s when Dave, Paul, and the World’s Most Dangerous Band moved to CBS for the Late Show with David Letterman. Some 30 years later, we’re celebrating Dave’s dominance over late night, now besting The Tonight Show and Jay Leno’s chin in the ratings. By Katherine Butler
1. Andy Kaufman Provokes Wrestler Jerry Lawler—and Dave (1982)
One of the most famous fights in TV history took place around Dave’s desk when comedian Andy Kaufman got an on-air smack down from wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler. In a profanity-laced tirade, Kaufman and his neck brace took Lawler to task. Kaufman died two years later – but ten years later, it was revealed that Lawler and Kaufman were friends and had planned the “fight” as performance art.
2. Cher Calls Dave an A**hole (1986)
Dave came out swinging at first-time guest Cher, who in a pre-taping interview with Dave’s producers called the late night host as an a**hole. Previously, Cher had refused to be on the show several times. When Dave pressed for a reason, he offered “Because you thought…” to which Cher answered, “You were an a**hole.” Dave played off the interview graciously, and Cher went on to return as a guest several times over.
3. Showdown with Harvey Pekar (1994)
Harvey Pekar, underground comic book writer, music critic, Paul Giamatti-inspriation, and media personality, was a show regular on Late Night in the late 1980s. Pekar, a self-described working class hero, was basically booked on the show to provide a series of watchable train wrecks. But when Dave reached his Pekar limit to ban the personality from his show, it was perhaps more of a train wreck than anyone anticipated.
4. Madonna and Dave Talk Sex (1994)
“Our first guests tonight is one of the biggest stars in the world. In the past 10 years, she’s sold over 80 million albums, starred in countless films and slept with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.” With that introduction, Dave’s infamous interview of sexual innuendo with Madonna began. In an expletives-laced conversation, bleeped curse-words, underpants, cigars, and more commercial interruptions you can count filled the segment. Also worth noting? Madonna’s real accent, pre-faux English accent, milady.
5. Drew Barrymore Flashes Dave (1995)
Before passing the torch to Lindsay Lohan, Drew Barrymore mightily played Hollywood’s Resident Bad Girl for much of her early life. By 1995, the 20-year-old actress had survived rehab and a suicide attempt. But it was Dave who barely survived the starlet’s appearance on his show. As a birthday gift, the actress climbed his desk and flashed him, her back to the audience. Dave’s gift to us was an unexpected look of genuine, awkward shock. Well played, Bad Girl Drew. Well played.
6. Dave Honors 9/11 (2001)
Dave clearly struggled for the right words on September 17, 2001 – his first show after the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. After paying tribute to New York’s finest and all the lost friends and family of the city, the talk show host worked to keep his composure. His eloquent take on 9/11 encompassed all the shock, horror, and grief America experienced on that fateful day. He admitted that he initially didn’t trust his judgment on doing the show after the disasters. But, Dave, we’re glad you did.
7. Dave Ends His Feud with Oprah (2005)
“Sweet would not be a word to describe you,” said Oprah to Dave on her appearance on The Late Show after a 16-year feud. The two spent much of the segment wondering exactly how, why, and where their feud escalated for well over a decade. But Dave admitted years later to Jon Stewart that the battle originated after Dave made Ms. O pay for his lunch while two happened to be vacationing in the same place.
8. Dave Calls Out Paris Hilton on Jail (2007)
After the socialite’s infamous 2007 stint in jail, she appeared on The Late Show to promote her fragrance, Can Can. After about ten seconds of idle chit-chat, Dave went straight to jail – as the audience went wild with applause. As Paris tried to giggle her way out of the interview, all the while shooting eye daggers at Dave, we learned the details of Paris’ jailhouse rock. And how deliciously far Dave will take a joke.
9. Dave Faces Off with Bill O’Reilly (2008)
When Dave hosted FOS firebrand Bill O’Reilly, the talk inevitably turned to politics. As Dave articulated his position on the Iraq War, he explained that he would like “Americans to stop dying and for there to be stability in that part of the world.” When Bill O’Reilly countered with browbeating and repetitious broad commentary, Dave realized that it’s impossible to argue with a human sound bite.
10. Joaquin Phoenix “Performance Piece” Goes Awry (2009)
Joaquin Phoenix tried to pull an “Andy Kaufman” over on Dave when he appeared to promote his latest film, Two Lovers. Acting completely out of his mind, the actor claimed he was quitting acting. It later turned out to be a performance stunt for the Casey Affleck’s “documentary” I’m Still Here. Joaquin followed up by returning to The Late Show in 2010 to apologize for his behavior. Dave graciously replied that he relished the chance to lob jokes at Phoenix “like [it] was batting practice.” Here’s hoping Dave spends the next 30 years doing the same.
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