Late-night talk shows have been a major part of American culture since the mid 1950s. That means that these shows have been around and have been consistently attracting millions of viewers for nearly 70 years.

With so much time on the air and so many iconic shows, guests and talk show hosts, this format is bound to have produced an extraordinary panoply of memorable, hilarious and even culture-defining moments like the following:

Johnny Carson’s Last TV Appearance

Johnny Carson is on the short list of American talk show legends. When it finally came time for him to retire, it was a huge deal. You could even say that the landscape of American television was changed in that moment.


Jay Leno was the one who got the honor of replacing Carson, and Leno went on to produce some great talk show moments himself. However, for his last-ever TV appearance, Carson went on the “Late Show With David Letterman.” The appearance was iconic and drew enormous applause. Letterman even let Carson sit in his chair.

Crispin Glover Kicks David Letterman

On the subject of David Letterman, that man’s decades-long career has also produced more astonishing moments than anyone can count. Attempting to select the best ones presents you with an embarrassment of riches.

For sheer zaniness and shock value, though, it’s hard to beat the time when actor Crispin Glover was a guest on Letterman’s show. Glover showed up in a wig, glasses and platform shoes, mouthing off and muttering incoherently.


Letterman played along, but then Glover decided to swing a kick mere inches from Letterman’s face, at which point the host had had enough and walked off stage.

It was a beautiful train wreck.

Marlon Brando Kisses Larry King

Marlon Brando and Larry King are both legends. But on one appearance on “Larry King Live,” the acting legend surely gave the talk show legend something he couldn’t refuse.

Brando was never known for doing mean interviews, and on set during movies, he was known for constantly pulling practical jokes and being hard to work with. He brought that joking spirit with him to “Larry King Live.”


Brando ostensibly appeared to promote his book “Songs My Mother Taught Me”, but he and King eventually began singing “Got a Date With an Angel” together. Then, Brando kissed King on the lips, shook his hand, said goodbye and left.

The audience was stunned.