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Iowa History Daily: October 22 - Letterman Comes to Cresco

Iowa History Daily: On October 22, 1980, David Letterman aired an episode of his show hosted from a home in Cresco. During the early fall of 1980, Jane Goldsworthy of Cresco submitted a 100-word essay explaining why “The David Letterman Show” should broadcast live from her family’s home.

Still a daytime show which aired at 9:00 a.m. local time prior to the host’s iconic move to late-night stardom, the show featured several segments familiar to viewers throughout the show's run. The show selected five winners from across the country to consider further, and after a visit to Cresco the Goldsworthy family won the contest.

After moving the family’s pool table, the show filmed in front of an audience of roughly 40 packed into the Goldsworthy home. Featuring Iowa’s Cloris Leachman, the show also consisted of locally taped ‘stupid pet tricks’ and Letterman’s ‘man-on-the-street’ interviews.

Although local reactions proved a mixed-bag, the episode proved a success. Even prior to airing, NBC planned to cancel the daytime “David Letterman Show,” and the final episode ran only two days later on October 24. For the next year, NBC paid Letterman $1,000,000 ($20,000 a week) to do nothing except not work for someone elseLetterman's next program, “Late Night” on CBS, premiered on February 1, 1982. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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