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19 May 15 Letterman and His Texas Ties

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(Editor’s Note: The following story comes from

A chapter in late-night TV history closes this week as influential host David Letterman rides off into the sunset (er, his home in upstate Connecticut) after 33 years.

His last show is Wednesday night on CBS. Tom Hanks, Eddie Vedder, Bob Dylan and a handful of other surprise guests will see Letterman off into retirement this week. Expect a lot of tears during Wednesday night’s show.

LettermanEarlier this week the Dallas Morning News looked at some best Texas politician moments on Letterman, including appearances by some of the state’s most powerful names.

Then-governor Rick Perry came onto the show in Nov. 2011 to poke fun at his recent debate foible with a Top Ten list, and just before taking presidential office in 2001, George W. Bush was a guest on the show. He presented a Top Ten list on the show in Oct. 2000, naturally from the home office in Crawford. He listed 10 changes he hoped to make in the White House.

Heck, Ross Perot even made it onto Letterman in April 1992 on a bill that included Tom Selleck and actress Carol Leifer.

Governor Ann Richards yucked it up with Letterman on NBC’s “Late Night” back in 1992 before Letterman moved over to the greener pastures at CBS.

None other than Houston news icon Marvin Zindler appeared on “Late Night” on October 14, 1982 with comedian George Miller. Zindler was there to talk about his connection to the film version of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” which was about to be released into theaters.

Zindler also spent time with Phil Donahue and Oprah Winfrey along his travels. He told The Houston Chronicle he liked doing Larry King’s show the best.

Back in late March, Houston soul band The Suffers made its national TV debut on “The Late Show” performing the single “Gwan” and won over the host in the process. They also gained tons of fans nationally, the band will tell you. Letterman gave lead singer Kam Franklin a big hug and Houston cheered.

Online episode guides listing every Letterman guest since his NBC debut is a handy tool to find out who guested on the show and when.

Houston’s own ZZ Top only played the big show three times, according to databases. University of Houston commencement speaker Matthew McConaughey made his “Late Show” debut in early 2000. Willie Nelson was the musical guest, of course.

The Red-Headed Stranger made his with debut with Letterman in 1987 back on the old NBC show.

Nelson first appeared on Letterman’s show in Jan. 1994 with Shelby Lynne. His latest appearance with Texas troubadour Billy Joe Shaver was in Dec. 2014. Also on the stage that night with Shaver and Nelson was Houston bassist Nick Gaitan.

Nelson and fellow Texan guitar slinger Gary Clark Jr. (who hails from Austin’s blues scene) appeared together in Nov. 2012. One of Nelson’s running buddies, George Jones, appeared four times on the CBS show.

Kinky Friedman made his one and only appearance on Nov. 3, 2006, days before he took just over 12 percent of the popular vote in the Texas governor’s race. Perry, of course, won another term.

Two years into the run of “The Big Bang Theory,” Houston native Jim Parsons came onto the show to talk shop with Letterman on an episode that also included Beyoncé.

Beyoncé herself debuted on Letterman’s show in 2001 with Destiny’s Child. She came back solo four more times over the next decade and change.

Texas music mainstay Lyle Lovett has graced the Letterman stage nearly 30 times solo and with various friends, like Nelson, John Hiatt, and others across the NBC and CBS days.

Katy native Renee Zellweger has appeared on the show ten times since 2000 promoting various films. Houston heartthrob Patrick Swayze appeared in June 1990 promoting the film “Ghost” and returned eight years later for his starring vehicle “Black Dog.”

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