Thursday, May 23, 2024

Regis Philbin Says Goodbye to David Letterman, And Show Runs an In Memoriam (Watch Classic Video from 1986)


David Letterman hosted Bill Murray and Bob Dylan tonight. Just in case Wednesday night’s finale runs over, the show ran its In Memoriam Tuesday night that included Larry “Bud” Melman and Bill Wendell, plus names of others who expired during the 33 year run.

Regis Philbin made his final appearance on the show, his 136th or 150th time on the show. It was very moving.


On Tuesday, Dylan didn’t sit with Dave. After 20 years, he appeared and croaked out a song from his current album of standards, “The Night We Called it a Day.” Humorless Dylan looked constipated and unsure of why he was even there. He could have sung “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.” But that would have made sense. We wouldn’t want that.

Murray was funny and touching, popping out of a real cake, with hot girls in tow, and getting the cake all over Dave. Murray had been Letterman’s first guest on his NBC and CBS shows. It was a nice touch.

Tonight, we say goodbye to David Letterman. I’ve been to his show many times over the 33 years. Once I sat in the green room with Ed Koch, but I don’t remember why. Last fall, I went with Aretha Franklin. I was there with Sam Moore and Wynonna Judd in 2006. When Letterman was on NBC, I was there a lot as a book publicist. In 1986 I brought the great Peter Ustinov, who was promoting a book for UNICEF. The episode became legendary because it ‘revolved’– at Ustinov’s point in the show, it was ‘upside down.’ Peter had a ball with it, as you’ll see in the clip below.

The amazingly talented Paul Shaffer has always been a great friend. He married the lovely Cathy Vasapoli, who was a booker when I brought guests. They are still married. Sheila Rogers started booking the musical guests in 1996, and had the absolute best taste in the world. When the show was at NBC , until 1996 at CBS, Robert “Morty” Morton was the executive producer. He was a great friend, also with terrific taste. He made the show what it was.

One more note about Paul Shaffer: using this platform he personally educated each new generation about the history of pop, soul, and blues. Without him, and Sheila, a lot of brilliant stars would have gone forgotten on late night TV. We owe them an incredible amount of thanks.

Letterman first started in the morning, then moved to late late night, and then to his current show. He had a terrible publicist all those years who kept him apart from everyone. You never ever saw David Letterman in public, at a movie or theater premiere, and rarely at a charity. He was simply not accessible in person.

But on TV he was a genius who weathered everything, even open heart surgery and blackmail. We kind of loved all his speeding tickets and his stalker. We loved his mom. And the top 10 list, and all the segments, and the way he sneaked his politics into the show. I am really, really going to miss, and I know you are, too.

Thanks for everything, Dave.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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