After NBC chose Jay Leno to succeed Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show, Letterman departed his network home of a decade in favor of an 11:35 p.m. time slot of his own at CBS. The Late Show with David Letterman refined the style and comic arsenal of Late Night, including signature bits like the Top 10 List. Letterman’s addition anchored the growth of CBS’s late night programming, previously a persistent weak spot in the network’s schedule.
Dave’s CBS debut—featuring appearances by Bill Murray, Billy Joel, Tom Brokaw, and Paul Newman—attracted more than 23 million viewers, or roughly 2.3 million times the number of people who tuned in for the combined run of The Pat Sajak Show. -A.D.
Today’s Birthdays: Lewis Black, professionally angry (64); Joan Blondell, saloonkeeper (d. 1979); Michael Chiklis, agent of Shield (49); Frank Conniff, TV’s Frank (56); Bill Daily, flyboy (85); Peggy Lipton, mod (66); Fred MacMurray, dad to three sons (d. 1991); Michael Michele, County General doc (46); David Paymer, Chicago judge (58).