TIME Television

This Is How Many Guests Have Been on David Letterman’s Late Show

Ahead of the Wednesday finale, see the host's accomplishments by the numbers

CBS will say goodbye to David Letterman, longtime host of Late Show, Wednesday night. In preparation for his departure, the network put together a top 10 list—one of Letterman’s signature features on the show—tallying up his many hijinks over the last 22 years. The stats include some numbers that illuminate what a huge impact Letterman has had in his two decades on Late Show:

6,028: Number of shows he’s hosted

19,932: Total guests

4,605: Top 10 lists

112: Emmy nominations

16: Emmy awards

126: “Stupid pet tricks”

89: “Stupid human tricks”

The network noted that Regis Philbin takes the cake as the most frequent guest on the show, with Jack Hanna (who has delighted fans with furry visitors from the Columbus Zoo) in second place.

Letterman’s last show before retirement airs Wednesday night on CBS.

TIME Television

9 Late Show Guests Remember Their Favorite David Letterman Moments

From Regis Philbin to Emmylou Harris, former guests recall their fondest memories with Dave

After almost 15 years as host of Late Show and more than 30 years as a late-night TV host across two networks, David Letterman is signing off for the last time on Wednesday night.

Here’s a look back at some of the favorite moments from guests of Dave.

Betty White

“When you’re doing the David Letterman show, you always get a call ahead where the segment producer asks you some questions and takes notes to pass on to David for the interview. I’ve done the show innumerable times and we’re yet to use any of the notes—we love each other and we just take off. What fun. I will miss him so. But look out—I’ll find him!”

Regis Philbin

“One year Dave surprised me on my birthday with a beautiful red Vespa motorbike. It was parked in front of the studio and he wanted me to go out, jump on the Vespa and ride it down the street. I didn’t get very far. In fact, I fell off and almost killed myself. They took a shot of Dave, who had thrown his hands up to his face saying, ‘My God, what have I done!’ I think he really got scared for a minute and didn’t think I was going to get up.”

Mayor Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani Letterman
Joe Tabacca—APDavid Letterman greets New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as he helps fill a large pothole on 53rd Street outside the Ed Sullivan Theater during a taping of the Late Show With David Letterman on July 26, 1994 in New York.

“When I was mayor, one night David was complaining very bitterly about a pothole that was out in front of the theater on a side street where the audience waits for people to come out. It was gigantic—he showed a picture of it, and he challenged me or the city to have it fixed. So I got a crew together, we came that night, and we showed him how we fix a pothole in New York. That may have been the first and last pothole I filled in my life.”

Mike Mills, R.E.M.

“The first time we played Letterman, Peter and I had smuggled some beer into the dressing room and Dave stopped by to say hi. He saw the beer, and he said, ‘Are you guys nervous?’ Peter and I said, ‘Yeah, a little bit.’ He said, ‘Well, don’t worry, it’s not like it’s a real show or anything.’ We laughed and felt better. He put us at ease and we had a great time. That was our first national TV show ever, so it was very exciting.”

“Jungle” Jack Hanna

“Dave Letterman is the most quick-witted person I’ve ever worked with. One time I brought a lion on the show and he asked, ‘Hey Jack, where’s that nice lion from?’ I said, ‘The Columbus Zoo, Dave.’ I was being serious. He said, ‘No, where’s it from?’ ‘I just told you, Dave.’ ‘You think I don’t know it’s from Africa?’ Another time I had a two-toed sloth, and I told him it’s like a three-toed sloth, but a little bigger. He said, ‘But what’s the difference?’ I said, ‘Look, one toe—I just told you!’ Animals weren’t his thing, really, until I did the show. But today, he’s a conservationist—he probably does know more about animals than I do today. I cannot thank him enough for what he’s done for the animal world.”

Dan Rather

“Looking back, this was probably ill advised. But I grew up in the oil fields in Texas, and I’d been chewing tobacco since I was 14 years old. It’s a gross habit. I’m happy to say I no longer do it. At any rate, somebody on David’s staff said, ‘We know you chew tobacco, and Dave would be interested in learning how.’ I had some reservations about this, and CBS, when they heard about it, said, ‘Absolutely not.’ But nonetheless, when I got there, I had a pouch of Red Man chewing tobacco. I attempted to teach him, but before I could say anything, he swallowed it and he turned emerald green, right on camera. That pretty much ended the segment, and—as far as I could determine—it ended his interest in chewing tobacco forever.”

Paul Shaffer

“Warren Zevon was a wonderful singer/songwriter who in the ‘70s made quite a mark with his contribution to the California sound. He appeared on Late Show several times and, when I needed to take time off, he became my regular sub. Then he got cancer, and he appeared on the show one last time—everyone around him knew that he was terminal. He performed three songs with me and my band for old times’ sake. Dave Letterman devoted the entire show to him, and on the panel, he asked Warren, ‘In your position, is there anything you know about life that you could impart to us?’ Warren smiled and he said, ‘Well, not unless I know that you’ve got to enjoy every sandwich.’ To me, that’s a great legacy right there. It was a real life experience for all of us.”

Jay Thomas

“I had told this story about the Lone Ranger to some comics over dinner once, and one of them told some other comics. Dave heard about it, and on the air, he said, ‘I hear you tell one of the funniest stories ever.’ I was not warned, and I didn’t know if it was going to get a laugh—I had never tried it out. But the building almost collapsed, the laughter was so big, and Dave falls back in his chair laughing. He pulls forward, and the king of late night television says, ‘That is the greatest talk show story I have ever heard.’ I was self-actualized. For 20 years each Christmas, before I re-told the story, he would say, ‘Jay is going to tell the greatest talk show story ever heard.’ He literally immortalized me that evening.”

Emmylou Harris

“I did the Late Show a lot. Dave was very supportive of every aspect over the years of everything I’ve done—different bands, different projects. Gillian Welch, Sheryl Crow and I came on right after 9/11, and it was a totally different, serious thing. The show must go on, but everybody was feeling the tragedy. We were able to do a beautiful gospel song a capella called ‘Bright Morning Stars,’ and I think we did ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken?’ which was probably Dave’s idea—I think that’s a very special song to him. We’re gonna miss him! It’s kind of hard to imagine evenings without Dave.”

TIME movies

The Second Pan Trailer Shows Peter’s Friendship With Hook

Neverland's flying ships look stunning in the new trailer

Peter Pan is all about how the Darling children travel to and explore Neverland. Pan is all about how Peter did the same.

In the first trailer, we met Peter as a kind of Oliver Twist, plucked from an orphanage to work Neverland’s mines for Blackbeard (played by Hugh Jackman). The new trailer, released today, focuses more on his friendship and adventures with Hook (Garrett Hedlund), though no hints yet as to how they must have fallen out to become enemies.

Joe Wright (who also directed Atonement and Pride and Prejudice) brings a lavish look to the film, with beautiful renderings of flying ships, spooky mermaid scenes (featuring Cara Delevingne) and bold acrobatics for Tiger Lily’s tribe (the warrior is controversially played by Rooney Mara; critics would have preferred a Native American actress).

Pan opens in theaters Oct. 9.

TIME Television

Jon Hamm Thinks There’s a Correct Interpretation of the End of Mad Men

Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Season 7, Episode 14
Courtesy of AMC Jon Hamm as Don Draper - Season 7, Episode 14

The actor says it's all about a moment of self-realization. (Spoilers ahead)

Mad Men fans have made much of the show’s final moments on Sunday night, with many agreeing that Don Draper had a moment of meditative clarity that led to the iconic Coca-Cola jingle “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

Jon Hamm weighed in on his character Monday in an interview with the New York Times, and it sounds like he agrees with that interpretation. Asked whether there’s a correct way to view the scene, he said “I think there probably is. But I think, like most stories that we go back to, that it’s a little bit ambiguous.”

In his interpretation, Hamm says Don wakes up the day after his emotional group therapy session and “has this serene moment of understanding, and realizes who he is. And who he is, is an advertising man. And so, this thing comes to him.”

Nevertheless, Hamm doesn’t necessarily see that as a cynical conclusion, but as a moment of self-acceptance. He also pointed out, contrary to some of the episode’s critics, that the happy endings for certain characters shouldn’t be interpreted as sappy: “No one is suggesting that Stan and Peggy live happily ever after,” he said, “or that Joan’s business is a rousing success, or that Roger and Marie come back from Paris together … these aren’t the last moments of any of these characters’ lives.”

Read more at the New York Times.

TIME Television

‘Buy the World a Coke’ Songwriter ‘Amazed’ to Hear it Ended Mad Men

Roger Greenaway says he only found out the morning after the finale

When “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” played out the final scene of Mad Men on Sunday night, it took social media by storm—but one of the tune’s songwriters, Roger Greenaway, had no idea it was even being used.

Greenaway, who admits he hasn’t watched Mad Men, tells TIME he woke up to an email about the news this morning, and says he was “amazed” to hear about it. As he recalls, the iconic jingle that first aired in 1971 might have never made it to primetime without a bit of luck.

The songwriter and a partner, Roger Cook, had come up with the melody while on vacation in Portugal, and later played it for McCann-Erickson employees on the Coca-Cola account. As has been widely reported, creative director Bill Backer got held up in Ireland due to bad weather on his way to meeting with the songwriters in London, and was inspired by the sight of fellow travelers chatting over bottles of Coke. That gave birth to the lyrics about buying the world a coke and keeping it company.

The song was at first only meant to be a commercial for radio, Greenaway says, not TV, and when it hit the airwaves in the U.S., he adds it was hardly a smash hit—there was “basically no good or bad response to it.”

Coca-Cola’s website states that Backer “put his creative team to work to come up with a visual concept” for the song, but as Greenaway recalls, it happened more organically.

As he remembers, another McCann employee, Harvey Gabor, came up with the idea of doing an ad that featured young men and women of different nationalities singing together on a hilltop with Coke bottles in their hands. According to Greenaway, Gabor told Backer: “I’m sure this will work, but I need something musically anthemic. Do you have anything in the musical library that would suit such an idea?” Backer suggested listening to the commercials they’d recorded for Coke in the last few years, some by Greenaway and Cook and some by other writers. After listening to for a few days, he picked “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

This time, when the song played on television, it was a huge success. Within a week, Greenaway says, thousands of people had sent letters to the Coca-Cola headquarters asking where they could find the music.

“Had it not been for Harvey Gabor and his idea with the kids on the hill, it would probably have never seen the light of day,” Greenaway says. “That’s what we in the business call luck.”

TIME Supreme Court

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Emphasizes ‘Constitution’ at Gay Wedding

Allison Shelley—Getty Images U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at an annual Women's History Month reception hosted by Pelosi in the U.S. capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on March 18.

The Court may rule on same-sex marriage in June

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presided over another same-sex wedding in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, just over a month before the Court may decide whether gay marriage is constitutional.

The New York Times reports that Ginsburg, sporting her traditional black robe and white collar, officiated the nuptials of Michael Kahn and Charles Mitchem at the Anderson House during an afternoon ceremony. While doing so, she was said to have put special emphasis on the word “Constitution” in closing that the two were now wed by the powers vested in her by that document.

What Ginsburg intended with that reference is unclear, but it did bring a loud applause. The Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage could come in June.


Read next: What’s at Stake as the Supreme Court Returns to Gay Marriage

TIME White House

Here Are the Best Responses to Obama Joining Twitter

The President now has his very own handle, @POTUS

President Barack Obama tweeted from his personal Twitter account first the first time on Monday.

It took just a few hours after the tweet went up at 11:38 a.m. ET for @POTUS to rack up more than 1 million followers, appearing to handily beat the current Guinness World Record for the fastest time to hit that milestone (it took Robert Downey Jr. 23 hours and 22 minutes in April 2014).

A video posted by the White House gave what seemed to be proof that it was actually Obama typing on a smartphone and not a staffer:

The Chicago Cubs appeared slightly offended that Obama, a noted White Sox fan, followed the Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls and Bears, but not their team.

Michelle seemed pretty excited:

Joe Biden was pleased:

And Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior advisor, was glad he signed up:

But it was perhaps No. 42 who had the greatest reaction—and a good question (#askingforafriend, of course):

Despite a busy schedule—he tweeted from Camden, New Jersey—Obama responded promptly, and with a good question in response:

Read next: You Asked: Why Are My Devices Messing With My Brain?

TIME Television

‘I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke’ Was the Perfect Way to End Mad Men

The jingle is a perfect button on the end of Don's story

Mad Men’s much-anticipated closing song wasn’t a gritty track by an artist who served as an icon for the sex, drugs and rock-and-roll generation — but a jingle. It might not have had the adrenaline-pumping impact of The Sopranos’ “Don’t Stop Believin’,” but it made perfect sense for the end of a story about Don Draper — a guy to whom it was once said, “If you had to choose a place to die, it would be in the middle of a pitch.”

“I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” was, of course, a real ad from 1971 for Coca-Cola, Don’s white whale. The song was actually the brainchild of a man named Bill Backer, a creative director at McCann-Erickson, the firm that employed Don for a brief minute. It was such a success that it was released as a single with lyrics disassociated from Coca-Cola (“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”); subsequently, it’s been revived as the company’s jingle several times.

The song works not only because of its overlap with the particulars of Don’s career, but also because of its placement right after his seeming revelation while meditating in paradise. Has he really bought into the vision this retreat is selling? (Don’t forget, it is a business — Don thinks it’s a good thing when the receptionist takes his money after he arrives. Also note that the receptionist wore her hair in the same ribboned braid as a woman in the Coke ad.) It certainly seems possible — after all, that man’s weepy confession in group therapy sounded uncannily like a Don Draper pitch, complete with a domestic setting and a sentimental message. Don responds to that “pitch” like nothing else we’ve seen from him lately.

Advertising may be a lie, but the best lies have an element of truth. It’s always been hard to tell how much Don actually wanted that American dream he’s been selling to people — full of soap, lipstick, beer and cars. But it’s equally hard to imagine him sitting in a lotus pose just for the sake of going along with the crowd.

“It’s the real thing,” the singers declare in the jingle. But what exactly is the real thing? Don’s newfound inner peace? Or the idea that everything is a product that can be sold — including mental health? Is the meaning of life spirituality, or is it capitalism? That might be Mad Men’s ultimate cliff-hanger.

TIME Television

Growing Up Mad Men: My Mom Is a Real-Life Sally Draper

My grandfather, James Wickersham, circa 1968

My grandpa was a Mad Man, with his very own ex-model wife and go-go boot-wearing daughter

Sometime in 2007, my aunt called my mom to tell her about a new show on AMC about an advertising man in the mid-20th century, with a house and family in Westchester County, New York, who makes a habit of taking liquid lunches with his colleagues. “You have to watch it,” she said. “It’s our childhood.”

My grandfather, James Wickersham, was not known for philandering or a bleak outlook on life, à la Mad Men‘s Don Draper. But otherwise, the similarities felt uncanny: He worked for McCann-Erickson, the firm that acquires Sterling Cooper & Partners in season seven, from 1956 to 1967, a hearty overlay of the years the show takes place. Like Don, his career began in the military, but he was a bit older, fighting in WWII rather than Korea. At McCann, he was sort of a fusion Don and Roger—he worked on the account side, not creative, but he often made the pitch to the client. At the same time, his work required him to wine and dine clients at restaurants like Lutèce. Like all of the Mad Men, he had a fully stocked bar in his office.

Grandpa joined McCann-Erickson with the title “account executive” and left as “chairman and chief operating officer of McCann/ITSM.” A few of his roles over the years were for different subsidiaries of McCann’s holding company, Interpublic. He isn’t around anymore to confirm any details, but our family remembers a few anecdotes from his pitching years. McCann wanted Don to work on Coca Cola; my grandfather actually did. He also worked on Standard Oil a.k.a. Esso (now Exxon) when its slogan was “Put a tiger in your tank.” He played a big role in the company’s work for the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign in 1964.

In a pitch to IBM that involved automating its systems, he filled in for a computer operator who got sick before the meeting. He was thoroughly briefed for his job as pinch hitter, but he stumbled on a simple question: “What language does your computer system use?” an IBM exec asked. “English?” he said with a smile. Everyone in the room apparently cracked up.

He had a lot of respect for the creative side, but could be dubious of ads he considered ineffective. My uncle recalls that while watching television with him growing up, my grandfather would say after clever-seeming ads ended, “Quick, tell me what the product was!” Often, he couldn’t remember.

At home in Rye (the town Betty moves to with the children when she marries Henry Francis), my grandmother, Mary, had a biography not too different from Betty’s. She was well educated—she had attended the University of Pennsylvania, but had to drop out to care for her younger siblings when her mother fell ill. She went on to work at a magazine, Farm Journal, and like Betty, she modeled—shoes, since she had tiny feet. She stopped working when she settled down, and like many intelligent women of that era, probably would have been happier if she had a life outside the home. She loved the socializing that went with her husband’s job, but she sometimes had Betty’s frostiness with the children—she clearly longed for intellectual stimulation outside motherhood, a case of the feminine mystique.

There were four children in the Wickersham family, not three like the Drapers. The first girl, my mother, is Sally. She calls herself “the original Sally Draper,” and plenty of the show’s scenes match her life. In an early episode, a very young Sally D. serves cocktails at a party at the Draper house. Sally W. and my aunt Sue did the same thing as children in Rye. They would pass out Scotch to the guests, many of them McCann employees, “until the cuteness wore off and we were sent to bed,” my mom says.

Like the young Miss Draper, Sally and Sue had white go-go boots with zippers up the back. Unlike Miss Draper, they were actually allowed to wear them (just not with short skirts).

Lots of female Mad Men fans ask themselves if they’re more of a Joan or a Peggy—the show practically invited such characterization in the early episode “Maidenform,” during a scene about an ad comparing Jackies and Marilyns.

I can easily identify with Peggy in 2015, but back then, would I have been the one in a million who actually broke a glass ceiling? Not likely, and to pretend I would is self-flattery. Odds are I’d be more like Betty and my grandmother: a brief career, marriage, and a quiet, suburban life. Odds are, most of us women would be.

Both my grandparents died when I was in elementary school, and I wish my grandfather had lived longer so I could have heard all of his pitch stories. But even more, I wish my grandmother had lived to see me work in magazines just as she had. We could have talked about her favorite president, Nixon, who has appeared on the cover of TIME more than anyone else, and whose resignation made her cry. And we could have discussed all the authors whose books we’ve seen Betty Draper read: Freud, Fitzgerald, Mary McCarthy. Maybe even Betty Friedan.

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