NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Stephen Colbert filed his final Colbert Report on Thursday, bidding farewell to his popular cable television show with the help of scores of celebrities who crowded onto the stage for a rousing sendoff to the tune of We'll Meet Again.
Colbert, 50, ended his show's nine-year run on the cable channel Comedy Central without any guests, until the show's final moments when he broke into song and was joined by Jon Stewart, on whose show Colbert first popularised his persona of an egocentric, bombastic conservative pundit.
The singing comedians were soon joined by famous personalities from the worlds of entertainment, politics and sports including Randy Newman, Willie Nelson, Bryan Cranston, Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, George Lucas and Sesame Street's Big Bird.
Among many others on hand were James Franco, Gloria Steinem, Sam Waterston, Jeff Daniels, Charlie Rose, Barry Manilow, Alan Alda, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Before the starry sendoff, Colbert told any new viewers: "If this is your first time tuning in to The Colbert Report I have some terrible news. This is in fact your last time tuning in to The Colbert Report - until 10 years from now when they reboot it directed by (the latest Star Wars director) J.J. Abrams."
Colbert stuck to regular segments, including his satiric commentary, The Word replete with references to his trademark "truthiness" and other catch phrases, before accidentally killing off the recurring grim reaper character, Grimmy, exclaiming "I just killed death. That means I am immortal."
In a final bit, he was picked up from the roof by Santa's sleigh, joined by Jeopardy host Alex Trebek. "That was fun. OK, OK, that's the show," he commented, concluding "From eternity, I'm Stephen Colbert. John," handing back to Stewart.
Colbert is set to take over CBS flagship late night talk show The Late Show after current longtime host David Letterman leaves in May. CBS recently announced that the show will remain in New York.