The 2017 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, bestowed annually by the Kennedy Center, will go to TV legend David Letterman this year. The retired “Late Show” host will join the esteemed list of Mark Twain Prize recipients that includes Carol Burnett, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jay Leno, Eddie Murphy and Letterman’s old pal Billy Murray, to name a few. The 20th annual edition of these kudos will be handed out on October 22 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Letterman signed off back in May of 2015 and has been relatively quiet ever since, outside of minimal TV appearances and interviews. Letterman began his career in late night television working for Johnny Carson. In 1982, “Late Night with David Letterman” debuted on NBC with Murray as the inaugural guest. A decade later, Murray was again the first guest on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” which premiered in August of 1993. In all, Letterman sat behind the two talk show desks for 33 years before his retirement.
The CBS program won the Emmy for Best Variety Series in 1994 and later followed with five consecutive victories in that same category (1998-2002). “Late Show” also won three technical categories for a total haul of nine awards. Letterman co-hosted the Emmy Awards in 1986 with Shelley Long and infamously helmed the Academy Awards ceremony in 1995. He inducted another idol Steve Allen into the TV Academy’s Hall of Fame in 1986 and was part of Carson’s Kennedy Center Honor tribute in 1993. He received his own Kennedy Center Honors in 2012.
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