Colbert led off the salute by merely proclaiming his immortality, after 1,444 shows, acknowledging God for coming up with a pretty good gig.
Then, he broke into a song, “We’ll Meet Again,” a standard from World War II written in Britain in 1939 and originally sung by Dame Vera Lynn.
But in true Colbert fashion, the tune also had a satirical twist; it was also the closing song for the 1964 Stanley Kubrick movie “Dr. Strangelove,” which ended in nuclear war.
As the song progressed, celebrities began to flow onto the set, many instantly recognizable and some less so.
The crowd included actors like James Franco and Bryan Cranston; media personalities like Katie Couric, Tom Brokaw, Ariana Huffington and Keith Olbermann, and performing artist like Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow and Willie Nelson.
Among the less recognizable, but no less important faces were Broadway star Mandy Patinkin, Star Wars Director George Lucas cellist Yo Yo Ma, singer Randy Newman and a very aged looking Henry Kissinger.
Big Bird and Cookie Monster also popped in.
The show faded to black on an empty set. But the party wasn’t over yet. Colbert was filmed being greeted by Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln and Jeopardy host Alex Trebek.
Then Colbert did his final toss, as they say in the business: “From eternity, I’m Stephen Colbert. Jon?”
Although many never realized it, Colbert was playing a character when he did the show, and will retire the curmudgeonly right-wing persona.
Colbert will next materialize as David Letterman’s replacement on the Late Show on CBS next spring.
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