With the end of “The Late Show with David Letterman,” we thought we’d honor Letterman’s years behind the late night desk by celebrating his ability to form longstanding bonds with various guests over the years. While Letterman was no stranger to funny bits, he was also an offbeat, compelling interviewer, who often brought on unexpected people as long as it made for good television. In no particular order, here are a few people it was always fun to watch stop by “The Late Show” over the years.
1. Tom Hanks
Hanks has been appearing on the show since the very beginning of his career. Clips of him talking about the premiere of “Splash” are easily found on YouTube. While he seems like someone who could make friendly, engaging conversation with even the most awkward of interviewers, his years of easygoing chats with Letterman on the show also provide a neat timeline to his evolution into Hollywood’s most famous nice guy.
2. Amy Sedaris
Sedaris is in some ways an ideal late night guest. She may not always have the trendiest project to promote, but that only means her appearances are more geared towards her own special brand of Amy Sedarisness. Conversations go in unexpected directions, she’s full of advice and sometimes she even has a craft project (even Fallon lets her do her own projects instead of playing games sometimes). Letterman had her on repeatedly over the years, recognizing that for most people, watching her talk for ten minutes is entertainment enough.
3. Jack Hanna
Letterman, like many late night hosts, has been vocal about his admiration for Johnny Carson. It’s not that surprising, then, that he continued one of Carson’s traditions: bringing on an animal handler to learn about wild animals. Jack Hanna appeared many times over the years, bringing everything from cheetahs to camels to late night to show off to a delighted audience.
4. Julia Roberts
As we learned last week, Julia Roberts has been a guest on Letterman’s show over two dozen times. And just in case you’re thinking, well, of course, she must have appeared for her breakthrough role in “Pretty Woman,” you’d be wrong. Her time on his show dates all the way back to “Mystic Pizza.” And we have to give Roberts kudos: In her final appearance, she called him out for being condescending to young actresses. And to Letterman’s credit he seems honestly apologetic for his earlier behavior. Only someone he had a solid bond with could provoke that kind of self-reflection.
5. Oprah Winfrey
If nothing else, Oprah’s appearance during Letterman’s final run of shows demonstrates how much the man has changed over the years. The duo had a longstanding feud, during which Winfrey refused to appear on his show (based, possibly, on him pranking her with a dinner bill), and Letterman razzed her about it. But a thaw began a few years ago, when the two appeared in a Super Bowl commercial together, and in recent years, they’re starting to seem downright chummy. If two of the biggest stars out there can set aside their differences, there’s hope for us all, isn’t there?