David Letterman has announced his retirement from "The Late Show," and will leave CBS when his contract expires in 2015.

The news spread like wildfire across social media Thursday afternoon, following reports from those who were present during the taping of the show and announcement that's set to air tonight. Letterman's reps later released a statement about the news, which we're reprinting in full (via Vulture):

David Letterman, during a taping of tonight's Late Show, said that he informed Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of CBS Corporation, that he will step down as the host of the show in 2015, which is when his current contract expires.

"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.

Musician Mike Mills, who's set to appear on the episode that was taped Thursday, was one of the first to break the news on Twitter. Letterman's retirement isn't a huge shock, since he had previously hinted that his latest one-year contract extension would be his last. Still, he's been a comforting late night presence for several decades now, first as the host of NBC's "Late Night" for 11 years (until he was famously passed over for Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" gig in 1992 in favor of the recently-retired Jay Leno), and then as host of "The Late Show" on CBS for the past 21 years, making him the longest-tenured late night host in TV history. He'll certainly be missed.

We just hope that this terrifying premonition shared by HitFix's Daniel Fienberg doesn't come to fruition.

"The Late Show" -- and Letterman's official announcement -- airs tonight on CBS at 11:35 p.m.

[via Variety]

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