New York (CNN Money) - Late night television legend David Letterman will retire in 2015.
Letterman announced his plan during a taping of "The Late Show" on Thursday afternoon.
CBS (CBS, Fortune 500) is expected to issue a statement sometime before the program is broadcast Thursday night.
A CBS spokesman declined to comment. Letterman's announcement initially leaked out when a performer, Mike Mills, who was at the taping of "The Late Show" tweeted out the news. "Dave just announced his retirement," Mills wrote.
Statement from David Letterman:
"The man who owns this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship for years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance. And I phoned him just before the program, and I said ‘Leslie, it's been great, you've been great, and the network has been great, but I'm retiring,'" said Letterman.
"I just want to reiterate my thanks for the support from the network, all of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theater, all the people on the staff, everybody at home, thank you very much. What this means now, is that Paul and I can be married."
"We don't have the timetable for this precisely down – I think it will be at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future, 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up," he added, to a standing ovation from the audience in the Ed Sullivan Theater.
STATEMENT FROM LESLIE MOONVES,
PRESIDENT AND CEO, CBS CORPORATION,
REGARDING DAVID LETTERMAN ANNOUNCING HIS RETIREMENT:
"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. He's also managed to keep many celebrities, politicians and executives on their toes – including me. There is only one David Letterman.
His greatness will always be remembered here, and he will certainly sit among the pantheon of this business. On a personal note, it's been a privilege to get to know Dave and to enjoy a terrific relationship. It's going to be tough to say goodbye. Fortunately, we won't have to do that for another year or so. Until then, we look forward to celebrating Dave's remarkable show and incredible talents."
Letterman's career as a late night broadcaster has spanned more than 32 years and nearly 6,000 episodes. He was the first host of Late Night at NBC from 1982-1992, and he has been the only host of Late Show, which he created on CBS in 1993. The two shows have been nominated for 108 Emmys, winning eight. Late Night received a Peabody in 1992, and Letterman became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2012.
The announcement comes just weeks after Letterman's longtime rival, Jay Leno, retired from the NBC "Tonight Show." Leno was replaced by Jimmy Fallon.
Last fall, Letterman extended his contract through 2015; news reports at the time said he gave no indication that it would be his last contract.
Letterman has hosted "The Late Show" since 1993