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David Letterman Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (7) | Trivia (56) | Personal Quotes (26) | Salary (4)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 12 April 1947Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Birth NameDavid Michael Letterman
Nicknames The Big Man
Dave
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Television would never be the same after David Letterman made his second attempt at a television show in 1982. But his career before becoming host of the show was quite an interesting and long one. Letterman was born in Broad Ripple, a neighborhood in Indianapolis. His childhood was relatively unremarkable, but he exhibited tendencies of the class clown and showed a very strong independent streak as a child. Letterman went on to graduate from Ball State University in the late 1960s and married Michelle Cook in 1969. From 1970 to 1974, he worked as a weatherman and TV announcer and from 1974 to 1975 as a radio talk show host.

As the late 1970s approached, Letterman was working as a struggling stand-up comic at The Comedy Store and started writing for television shows. He wrote for the summer series "The Peeping Times" and for such shows as Good Times (1974). Letterman had become something of a minor celebrity by 1978, by which time he had appeared on The Gong Show (1976), Mary Tyler Moore's variety series, Mary (1978), Liar's Club (1976), The (New) $25,000 Pyramid (1973), Password Plus (1979) and the variety series, The Starland Vocal Band Show (1977). (It was also revealed on the Game Show Network that Letterman hosted a pilot of a game show in the seventies called The Riddlers (1977), but it was not made into a series.)

This exposure prompted many appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962). He became so popular that he was permanent substitute host by the end of the 1970s. NBC saw great potential in the young irreverent comedian, so they gave Letterman his own daytime talk show, The David Letterman Show (1980), which was a disaster and aired for only a few months. At about this time, Tom Snyder was having problems with his late-night show, Tomorrow Coast to Coast (1973), which aired after the "Tonight Show." His problems were mostly with his co-host, Rona Barrett, and Snyder was forced off air in late 1981. Letterman, who was still permanent co-host of the "Tonight Show," took over the post-Carson slot with Late Night with David Letterman (1982).

Letterman's show was extremely unconventional. For starters, Letterman was very political, whereas Johnny Carson had steered away from political jokes. Letterman's early antics changed talk shows. He would often stage elevator races in Radio City Music Hall. He made random calls to strangers and talked about the strangest subjects. At one point, Letterman got his associate Larry "Bud" Melman to stand outside the Russian Embassy and hand out pamphlets encouraging defection. He often made his guests feel uncomfortable with his intelligent and abrasive style, and guests often participated in funny and unusual skits with him. Letterman became almost an instant success, and some say he surpassed Carson in popularity.

As the late 1980s approached, Letterman was becoming more and more of a household name, often at odds with the censors over his show, and never one to kowtow to guests' wishes. But that only made him more popular, and he garnered more and more status as a world class talk show host. Among the more classic moments in his early show was the time he covered his suit with Alka Seltzer and jumped in a vat of water. Letterman helped Andy Kaufman with his wrestling saga, as Kaufman and Jerry Lawler pretended to get in a fight on "Late Night." Letterman also became known for his on-screen reclusiveness with respect to other shows. While Carson at one point in his career would often make cameos and guest appearances, Letterman would shy away from cameos and stuck almost solely to doing his "Late Night" show.

In 1992 Johnny Carson made a landmark announcement: he was retiring. Many thought that Letterman would be the natural choice as Carson's replacement, but many at NBC were leaning toward current "Tonight Show" substitute host Jay Leno. The battle was very public and very vicious, but in the end Leno won out, and Letterman continued hosting the post-"Tonight Show" slot. But, in 1993, Letterman made his own big announcement: he was leaving NBC for a lucrative contract with CBS to star in the Late Show with David Letterman (1993). The battle intensified even more. NBC claimed that many of Letterman's gimmicks and jokes, including throwing the pencil at the camera, the Top Ten List, and Larry "Bud" Melman, among many others, were NBC's "intellectual property." NBC lost, but Larry "Bud" Melman would now be called by his real name, Calvert DeForest, on the CBS show. Competing in the late night wars with not only Leno but also Chevy Chase, Arsenio Hall and Ted Koppel, Letterman consistently won over all of his competition until the summer of 1995, when Leno had guest Hugh Grant on his show to discuss his highly publicized arrest for being caught with prostitute Divine Brown and Grant cried on screen. The ratings were tremendous, and Leno has consistently beaten Letterman ever since.

In recent years, Letterman has toned down his act. He dresses more conservatively and tends to go the more traditional route of talk shows. It can be said that every talk show since, including Craig Kilborn and especially 'Conan O'Brien', has been influenced a great deal by Letterman's unconventional, irreverent, off-the-wall style. It was thought that Letterman was going to retire in the mid-'90s, but an impressive $14 million-per-year deal has kept Letterman with CBS. Near-tragedy struck, however, in January of 2000 when Letterman was diagnosed with coronary arterial blockage and underwent quintuple bypass surgery. The operation was successful, however, and Letterman received countless get-well cards and a great deal of publicity. Among David's better-known incidents in recent years have been Drew Barrymore's infamous table dance, an interview with a bizarre and ditzy Farrah Fawcett, his appearance in the movie, Cabin Boy (1994) (written by and starring his former "Late Night" writer and performer Chris Elliott), his stint as host of The 67th Annual Academy Awards (1995), and his appearance in the Andy Kaufman biopic, Man on the Moon (1999). When Politically Incorrect (1993) was canceled in 2002, Letterman was sought after to leave CBS for ABC, but he declined to do so and stayed with CBS, where he will probably remain for quite a while.

Aside from being a talk show host, Letterman is an active producer. His production company is called Worldwide Pants. Over the years he has been executive producer of his original show, his new show, Everybody Loves Raymond (1996), The Building (1993), Bonnie (1995), The High Life (1996), The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (1999), and Ed (2000).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Scott-msa0510@mail.ecu.edu

Spouse (2)

Regina Lasko (19 March 2009 - present) (1 child)
Michelle Cook (2 July 1968 - 13 October 1978) (divorced)

Trade Mark (7)

Gap-toothed grin
Repeats a phrase of a joke immediately over and over again
Top Ten lists
Often makes jokes in his monologue involving himself
White socks with black shoes
His spinning pencil trick
Self-deprecating humour

Trivia (56)

Began a relationship with his second wife, Regina Lasko, in February of 1986; they did not marry until March 19th, 2009.
Allegedly, he will not stay for longer than five minutes for an on-location cameo appearance in any given film, which may be why Letterman doesn't really "appear" on stage with Jim Carrey and Jerry Lawler in Man on the Moon (1999), but rather is a special-effects image, like a cut-and-paste.
Is part owner of Team Rahal auto racing team (majority owner Bobby Rahal, 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion).
Attended Broad Ripple High School. Was voted Class Smart Alec.
Had a relationship with Merrill Markoe.
His production company is called Worldwide Pants.
His previous production companies include 'Space Age Meat' and 'Cardboard Shoe Productions'.
Born at 6:00am-CST.
Has an older sister named Janice and a younger sister named Gretchen.
Hero is Johnny Carson.
While working as a weatherman in Indianapolis, he once congratulated a tropical storm for being upgraded to a hurricane.
Says he never uses the same tie twice in his show.
Underwent quintuple bypass surgery on 14 January 2000.
Before his heart bypass surgery, he had not missed a day due to illness in his 18 years of late-night.
Multi-purpose names he uses for any man: "Larry," "Kenny," and "Rodney". Multi-purpose names for women: "Linda".
Nicknames for Paul Shaffer include "Johnny Carwash", "Wayne 'Fatboy' Ewing" and "Paul W. Shaffer."
His father, Joe Letterman, was a florist who died of a heart attack in 1973. Mother Dorothy Mengering remarried in 1983 to Hans Mengering.
He once hosted a game show pilot called The Riddlers (1977). Its celebrity guests were Joyce Bulifant, Michael McKean, Debralee Scott, Robert Urich and Jo Anne Worley. (The pilot was shown on the Game Show Network on 28 October 2000.).
He was frequently a celebrity guest on TV game shows of the 1970s, among them The (New) $25,000 Pyramid (1973), The Gong Show (1976), and Liar's Club (1976).
Funds a scholarship at Ball State University (his alma mater, class of 1969).
Worked as a grocery bagger in Indianapolis in high school.
Was a resident of New Canaan, Connecticut, but moved to Westchester County, New York, around 2001.
Named one of People Magazine's "25 Most Intriguing People of 2001".
He went to college with Jim Davis, another Indiana native who created and still writes the world famous comic strip "Garfield."
Guest hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) 51 times.
Sister Gretchen is journalist, editor of St. Petersburg Times (FL) Lifestyles section.
Owns vacation home on St. Bart's.
Once petitioned to get a highway in his hometown named "the Dave Letterman Bypass" as a reference to his heart bypass surgery. Businesses in Indianapolis referred to the highway as "The Dave" for a short time.
Life Loyal Member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
On 3 November 2003, Letterman's then-girlfriend (now his wife), Regina Lasko, gave birth to their son, Harry Joseph Letterman, named after Letterman's father, who passed away at the age of 57.
Enthusiast of Coen Brothers' films.
2003 was the 19th year in a row that his show, be it Late Show with David Letterman (1993) (CBS) or Late Night with David Letterman (1982) (NBC) received an Emmy nomination for writing on a variety series.
Just won as a car owner in the Indy 500 (5-30-04) with co-owner Bobby Rahal and winner Buddy Rice.
He often does an in-joke that only his studio audience will understand. This is done by speaking with the audience before taping begins and finding out where people are from, what they do, etc. During the opening monologue, he will then make a reference to one of the audience members.
Was a writer on the 1970s comedy series Good Times (1974), as was his current late night talk show competitor Jay Leno.
On his shows he has mentioned to both Gene Siskel and Martin Scorsese that his favorite movie is Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).
Owns a ranch just outside of Choteau, Montana.
Is portrayed by John Michael Higgins in The Late Shift (1996).
Auditioned for the role of Ted Stryker in Airplane! (1980).
Has mentioned on the Late Show with David Letterman (1993) that his favorite song is The Spinners's "I'll Be Around (Whenever You Want Me)." On the July 27, 2006 broadcast, The Spinners appeared on the show, playing "I'll Be Around" with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra.
At one time was a part owner of the Seattle Mariners, courtesy of then-owner, Jeff Smulyan, as he gave Letterman shares of his company, Emmis Communications, which included the Mariners (Letterman was given about 1%).
In February 2003, an emergency group of guest hosts had to be called to fill in on the Late Show with David Letterman (1993), when Letterman was suddenly debilitated with a bout of shingles.
Had a running gag with Indianapolis radio station WNAP during the 1970s. He would telephone in comedic "reports", allegedly from the Indiana State Fair, using the name Moferd Pardo.
Early in his television career, Dave did some ring announcing work for an Indianapolis wrestling promotion run by Dick the Bruiser (Dick Afflis). Years later on NBC, Dave nicknamed his band "The World's Most Dangerous Band", based on Dick the Bruiser's nickname of "The World's Most Dangerous Wrestler".
Pencils used at his talk show desk have erasers at both ends. This is so no one is injured when he throws them.
In 2007, Forbes Magazine estimated his earnings for the year at $40 million.
Married his second wife Regina Lasko in a courthouse ceremony near their ranch home in Montana.
Appeared on the cover of GQ magazine three times: July '84, June '90 and August '93.
Stopped smoking cigars in 2004.
Hasn't had any alcoholic beverages since 1983.
Is a fan of the cartoon "Beavis and Butthead" (1993).
Wrote jokes for Jimmie Walker's stand-up act and his series Good Times (1974).
Recipient of the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors. Other recipient that year were Buddy Guy, Dustin Hoffman, Natalia Makarova, and the rock band Led Zeppelin, comprising John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant.
In August, Dave will celebrate 10 years as host of the 6 time consecutive Emmy Award winning CBS show Late Show with David Letterman (1993). [February 2003]
Announced his retirement on April 3, 2014, with guest star Johnny Depp.
His father had English, Scots-Irish, and German ancestry. His mother's family was of German descent.

Personal Quotes (26)

I wouldn't give your troubles to a monkey on a rock.
Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
In Hollywood, Oscar is king.
There is no off position on the genius switch.
You know, they don't give these shows to chimps!
Show me squid!
We can all sleep easy at night knowing that somewhere at any given time, the Foo Fighters are out there fighting Foo.
[Jay Leno on Letterman] "Dave is one of the few performers who can say something real vicious and have it come across as a cute aside."
"Each and every Thursday night, we like to go out in the audience of the Ed Sullivan Theater to play America's fastest growing quiz sensation, Know Your Current Events".
If it wasn't for the coffee, I'd have no identifiable personality whatsover.
I'm a wiseass and a smartass, and I always have been.
I got my lips chewed off by a dingo!
The weather's so cold in New York right now. And when I walked through Central Park this morning, I saw a squirrel warming up his nuts!
There's not a man, woman or child on the face of the earth who doesn't enjoy a tasty beverage.
[on his move to the Westinghouse-owned CBS television network[] "I now have a lifetime's supply of light bulbs."
[on being called a non-voting Republican] "I believe I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans. Am I either one? Absolutely not. Ladies and gentlemen, I am an American."
If it weren't for Johnny [Johnny Carson], I'd have no career.
The worst tempered people I have ever met were those who knew that they were wrong.
It's very simple. There's only one requirement of any of us, and that is to be courageous. Because courage, as you might know, defines all other human behavior. And, I believe - because I've done a little of this myself - pretending to be courageous is just as good as the real thing.
[on becoming a father for the first time at 56] "By the time the child has trouble in life, you know, I'll be dead. I'll be long gone. By the time the kid's out stealing cars, you know, Dad will be dead a few years."
[on his close friend Jay Leno in 1986] "'Jay's a master at getting the audience on his side. He's able to communicate the idea that 'Shouldn't we, as a group, think this is absurd?' You immediately feel like he's your ally".
[on his first show after the September 11th terrorist attacks] "It's said they were motivated by religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any goddamn sense?"
[about the type of guests he likes] "I don't care who you are, I don't care what you do. If you have four funny stories, you can be a guest on this show. That's what we're looking for."
[on dealing with cold winters] Here's a tip: take your boxer shorts and put them in the microwave. It's a tip I learned from Rosie O'Donnell.
[following an Islamist threat against his life] Tonight, you people are more than an audience. You're more like a human shield.
[to Lady Gaga] When I was your age, I had a paper route.

Salary (4)

The David Letterman Show (1980) $1,000,000
Late Night with David Letterman (1982) $7,000,000
Late Show with David Letterman (1993) (2002 - ) $31,500,000 + show profits and licensing
Late Show with David Letterman (1993) $32,000,000 /year (2009)

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