David Letterman announces retirement from CBS' 'Late Show'

By Daniel S Levine,
UPDATED with CBS statement

David Letterman, an institution of late night television for three decades, announced during his show Thursday that he is retiring when his contract expires in 2015.

Letterman announced the news while taping tonight’s Late Show. CBS has not officially announced it, but TV Line reports that bassist Mike Mills broke the news on Twitter. Mills, the former bassist for REM, is performing during the show with Joseph Arthur.

Back in October, Letterman signed a deal with CBS to continue hosting Late Show through 2015.

Letterman is the longest-tenured late night host in TV history. He started hosting his own show, NBC’s Late Night in 1982 and won five Emmys during the 11-year run. He moved to CBS after Jay Leno replaced Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and celebrated 20 years on CBS last year.

Letterman will leave behind a noticeably younger late night environment, as Leno just left The Tonight Show. Jimmy Fallon took over in February.

UPDATE: CBS Presindet & CEO Les Moonves has just released a statement on the news. It reads, in part, "When Dave decided on a one-year extension for his most recent contract, we knew this day was getting closer, but that doesn’t make the moment any less poignant for us. 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. 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."

Moonves added that it has been a "privilege" for him to work with Letterman.

UPDATE: Here's the video:

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