SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Looking back on his career, a local photographer says the best job he ever had was working for David Letterman.
Prior to working for Letterman, Marc Karzen says he was a magazine photographer.
“I was a magazine photographer and got a call one day,” he recalls. “Next thing you know, I’m working on the Letterman show, which was this crazy 12:30 late-night show that, you know, college students were watching.”
Karzen went on to work with Letterman for 11 years during those early talk show days starting in 1982.
“Great boss. The best boss ever, David Letterman, without a doubt,” Karzen said.
His job was to create what’s known as “bumpers” for the show, which back then consisted of still photographs that would appear between commercial breaks.
Karzen explained that the graphics, “Late Night With David Lettermen,” were rubbed on everything from dog food and beer cans to hotel room walls.
“We would get into a rent-a-car or a limo and go off into the night and shoot until 4 or 5 in the morning creating these images,” he recalls.
Karzen sometimes would even put himself in the bumpers.
“Shooting with one hand holding the cards with the other hand,” he said.
But he always needed approval from one guy: Letterman.
“This is probably one of the most famous props of all because it was sent in from a viewer. We did a bumper with it and presented it to Dave and didn’t realize that he hates Rubik’s Cubes, so he rejected it,” he recalls.
But almost always, he says, Letterman liked and approved the bumpers.
“Dave was cool. I mean, it was great for me because he loved what we did,” he said. “For any creative person, what you dream of, is creative freedom.”
Now, decades after he worked alongside Letterman, Karzen describes the moments he captured as “history” and the memories he created as some of the best of his life.
“Best job of my entire career,” he said.
Letterman will retire as host of CBS’ “Late Show” on May 20.
Of the original “bumpers” from the show, 33 have been chosen for an upcoming auction to celebrate Letterman’s 33 years of hosting late-night talk shows.
The auction through Santa Monica Auctions will take place on Sunday, May 31. Click here for more information.