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David Letterman

David Letterman

Known For: Acting · Birthday: 1947-04-12 · Gender: Male · Place of Birth: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

36 Movies · 32 TV shows

Also Known As: Letterman

Biography

David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He hosted late night television talk shows for 33 years, beginning with the February 1, 1982, debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, and ending with the May 20, 2015, broadcast of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. In total, Letterman hosted 6,080 episodes of Late Night and Late Show, surpassing his friend and mentor Johnny Carson as the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history. In 1996, Letterman was ranked 45th on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time. In 2002, The Late Show with David Letterman was ranked seventh on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.He is also a television and film producer. His company, Worldwide Pants, produced his shows as well as The Late Late Show and several prime-time comedies, the most successful of which was Everybody Loves Raymond, now in syndication. Several late-night hosts have cited Letterman's influence, including Conan O'Brien (his successor on Late Night), Stephen Colbert (his successor on The Late Show), Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, and Seth Meyers. Letterman currently hosts the Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.

Career

Letterman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1947, and has two sisters, one older and one younger. His father, Harry Joseph Letterman (April 15, 1915 – February 13, 1973), was a florist. His mother, Dorothy Marie Letterman Mengering (née Hofert; July 18, 1921 – April 11, 2017), a church secretary for the Second Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, was an occasional figure on Letterman's show, usually at holidays and birthdays.Letterman grew up on the north side of Indianapolis, in the Broad Ripple area, about 12 miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He enjoyed collecting model cars, including racers. In 2000, he told an interviewer for Esquire that, while growing up, he admired his father's ability to tell jokes and be the life of the party. Harry Joseph Letterman survived a heart attack at the age of 36, when David was a young boy. The fear of losing his father was constantly with Letterman as he grew up. The elder Letterman died of a second heart attack in 1973, at the age of 57. Letterman attended his hometown's Broad Ripple High School and worked as a stock boy at the local Atlas Supermarket. According to the Ball State Daily News, he originally wanted to attend Indiana University, but his grades were not good enough, so he instead attended Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana. He is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and graduated in 1969 from what was then the Department of Radio and Television. A self-described average student, Letterman later endowed a scholarship for what he called "C students" at Ball State. Though he registered for the draft and passed his physical after graduating from college, he was not drafted for service in Vietnam because he received a draft lottery number of 346 (out of 366).Letterman began his broadcasting career as an announcer and newscaster at the college's student-run radio station—WBST—a 10-watt campus station that is now part of Indiana Public Radio. He was fired for treating classical music with irreverence. He then became involved with the founding of another campus station—WAGO-AM 570 (now WWHI, 91.3).He credits Paul Dixon, host of the Paul Dixon Show, a Cincinnati-based talk show also shown in Indianapolis while he was growing up, for inspiring his choice of career: I was just out of college [in 1969], and I really didn't know what I wanted to do. And then all of a sudden I saw him doing it [on TV]. And I thought: That's really what I want to do! Weatherman. Soon after graduating from Ball State in 1969, Letterman began his career as a radio talk show host on WNTS (AM) and on Indianapolis television station WLWI (which changed its call sign to WTHR in 1976) as an anchor and weatherman. He received some attention for his unpredictable on-air behavior, which included congratulating a tropical storm for being upgraded to a hurricane and predicting hailstones "the size of canned hams." He also occasionally reported the weather and the day's very high and low temps for fictitious cities ("Eight inches of snow in Bingree and surrounding areas"), on another occasion saying that the state border between Indiana and Ohio had been erased when a satellite map accidentally omitted it, attributing it to dirty political dealings. ("The higher-ups have removed the border between Indiana and Ohio, making it one giant state. Personally, I'm against it. I don't know what to do about it.") He also starred in a local kiddie show, made wisecracks as host of a late-night TV show called "Freeze-Dried Movies" (he once acted out a scene from Godzilla using plastic dinosaurs), and hosted a talk show that aired early on Saturday mornings called Clover Power, in which he interviewed 4-H members about their projects.In 1971, Letterman appeared as a pit road reporter for ABC Sports' tape-delayed coverage of the Indianapolis 500, which was his first nationally telecast appearance (WLWI was the local ABC affiliate at the time). He was initially introduced as Chris Economaki, but this was corrected at the end of the interview (Jim McKay announced his name as Dave Letterman). Letterman interviewed Mario Andretti, who had just crashed out of the race. Move to Los Angeles. In 1975, encouraged by his then-wife Michelle and several of his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers, Letterman moved to Los Angeles, California, with hope of becoming a comedy writer. He and Michelle packed their belongings in his pickup truck and headed west. As of 2012, he still owned the truck. In Los Angeles, he began performing comedy at The Comedy Store. Jimmie Walker saw him on stage; with an endorsement from George Miller, Letterman joined a group of comedians whom Walker hired to write jokes for his stand-up act, a group that at various times also included Jay Leno, Paul Mooney, Robert Schimmel, Richard Jeni, Louie Anderson, Elayne Boosler, Byron Allen, Jack Handey, and Steve Oedekerk.By the summer of 1977, Letterman was a writer and regular on the six-week summer series The Starland Vocal Band Show, broadcast on CBS. He hosted a 1977 pilot for a game show called The Riddlers (which was never picked up), and co-starred in the Barry Levinson-produced comedy special Peeping Times, which aired in January 1978. Later that year, Letterman was a cast member on Mary Tyler Moore's variety show, Mary. He made a guest appearance on Mork & Mindy (as a parody of EST leader Werner Erhard) and appearances on game shows such as The $20,000 Pyramid, The Gong Show, Hollywood Squares, Password Plus, and Liar's Club, as well as the Canadian cooking show Celebrity Cooks (November 1977), talk shows such as 90 Minutes Live (February 24 and April 14, 1978), and The Mike Douglas Show (April 3, 1979 and February 7, 1980). He was also screen tested for the lead role in the 1980 film Airplane!, a role that eventually went to Robert Hays.Letterman's brand of dry, sarcastic humor caught the attention of scouts for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and he was soon a regular guest on the show. He became a favorite of Carson and was a regular guest host for the show beginning in 1978. Letterman credits Carson as the person who influenced his career the most.

Personal Life

On July 2, 1968, Letterman married his college sweetheart, Michelle Cook, in Muncie, Indiana; their marriage ended in divorce by October 1977. He also had a long-term cohabiting relationship with the former head writer and producer on Late Night, Merrill Markoe, from 1978 to 1988. Markoe was the mind behind several Late Night staples, such as "Stupid Pet/Human Tricks". Time magazine stated that theirs was the defining relationship of Letterman's career, with Markoe also acting as his writing partner. She "put the surrealism in Letterman's comedy."Letterman and Regina Lasko started dating in February 1986, while he was still living with Markoe. Lasko gave birth to a son in 2003. In 2005, police discovered a plot to kidnap his son and demand a ransom of US$5 million. Kelly Frank, a house painter who had worked for Letterman, was charged in the conspiracy.Letterman and Lasko wed on March 19, 2009, in a quiet courthouse civil ceremony in Choteau, Montana, where he had purchased a ranch in 1999. Letterman announced the marriage during the taping of his show of March 23, shortly after congratulating Bruce Willis for his marriage the week before. Letterman told the audience he nearly missed the ceremony because his truck became stuck in mud two miles from their house. The family resides in North Salem, New York, on a 108 acres (44 hectares) estate.Letterman suffers from tinnitus, a symptom of hearing loss. On the Late Show in 1996, Letterman talked about his experience with tinnitus during an interview with William Shatner, who himself has severe tinnitus caused by an on-set explosion. Letterman has said that initially he was unable to pinpoint the noise inside his head, and that he hears a constant ringing in his ears 24 hours a day.Letterman no longer drinks alcohol. On more than one occasion, he said that he had once been a "horrible alcoholic" and had begun drinking around the age of 13 and continued until 1981 when he was 34. He has said that in 1981, "I was drunk 80% of the time ... I loved it. I was one of those guys, I looked around, and everyone else had stopped drinking and I couldn't understand why." When he is shown drinking what appears to be alcohol on Late Night or the Late Show, it is actually replaced with apple juice by the crew.In 2015, Letterman said of his anxiety: "For years and years and years—30, 40 years—I was anxious and hypochondriacal and an alcoholic, and many, many other things that made me different from other people." He became calmer through a combination of transcendental meditation and low doses of medication. Letterman is a Presbyterian, a religious tradition he was originally brought up in by his mother, though he once said he was motivated by "Lutheran, Midwestern guilt". Interests. Letterman is a car enthusiast and owns an extensive collection. In 2012, it was reported that the collection consisted of ten Ferraris, eight Porsches, four Austin-Healeys, two Honda motorcycles, a Chevy pickup, and one car each from automakers Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, MG, Volvo, and Pontiac.In his 2013 appearance on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, part of Jerry Seinfeld's conversation with Letterman was filmed in Letterman's 1995 Volvo 960 station wagon, which is powered by a 380-horsepower racing engine. Paul Newman had the car built for Letterman.Letterman shares a close relationship with the rock and roll band Foo Fighters since their appearance on his first show upon his return from heart surgery. The band appeared many times on the Late Show, including a week-long stint in October 2014. While introducing the band's performance of "Miracle" on the show of October 17, 2014, Letterman told the story of how a souvenir video of himself and his four-year-old son learning to ski used the song as background music, unbeknownst to Letterman until he saw it. He stated: "This is the second song of theirs that will always have great, great meaning for me for the rest of my life". This was the first time the band had heard this story. Worldwide Pants co-produced Dave Grohl's Sonic Highways TV series. "Letterman was the first person to get behind this project," Grohl said. Stalkers. Beginning in May 1988, Letterman was stalked by Margaret Mary Ray, a woman suffering from schizophrenia. She stole his Porsche, camped out on his tennis court, and repeatedly broke into his house. Her exploits drew national attention, with Letterman occasionally joking about her on his show, although he never referred to her by name. After she killed herself at age 46 in October 1998, Letterman told The New York Times that he had great compassion for her. A spokesperson for Letterman said: "This is a sad ending to a confused life."In 2005 another person was able to obtain a restraining order from a New Mexico judge, prohibiting Letterman from contacting her. She claimed he had sent her coded messages via his television program, causing her bankruptcy and emotional distress. Law professor Eugene Volokh called the case "patently frivolous". Affairs. Letterman has admitted to having multiple affairs, including with his intern Holly Hester and his longtime personal assistant Stephanie Birkitt. On October 1, 2009, Letterman announced on his show that he had been the victim of a blackmail attempt by a person threatening to reveal his sexual relationships with several of his female employees—a fact Letterman immediately thereafter confirmed. He said that someone had left a package in his car with material he said he would write into a screenplay and a book if Letterman did not pay him US$2 million. Letterman said that he contacted the Manhattan District Attorney's office and partook in a sting operation that involved the handover of a fake check to his extortionist.Subsequently, Joe Halderman, a producer of the CBS news magazine television series 48 Hours, was arrested around noon (EST) on October 1, 2009 after trying to deposit the check. He was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury following testimony from Letterman and pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted grand larceny on October 2, 2009. Halderman pleaded guilty in March 2010 and was sentenced to six months in prison, followed by probation and community service.A central figure in the case and one of the women with whom Letterman had had a sexual relationship was his long-time personal assistant Stephanie Birkitt, who often appeared with him on his show. She had also worked for 48 Hours. Until a month before the revelations, she had shared a residence with Halderman, who allegedly had copied her personal diary and used it, along with private emails, in the blackmail package.In the days following the initial announcement of the affairs and the arrest, several prominent women, including Kathie Lee Gifford, co-host of NBC's Today Show, and NBC news anchor Ann Curry, questioned whether Letterman's affairs with subordinates created an unfair working environment. A spokesman for Worldwide Pants said that the company's sexual harassment policy did not prohibit sexual relationships between managers and employees. According to business news reporter Eve Tahmincioglu, "CBS suppliers are supposed to follow the company's business conduct policies" and the CBS 2008 Business Conduct Statement states that "If a consenting romantic or sexual relationship between a supervisor and a direct or indirect subordinate should develop, CBS requires the supervisor to disclose this information to his or her Company's Human Resources Department".On October 3, 2009, a former CBS employee, Holly Hester, announced that she and Letterman had engaged in a year-long secret affair in the early 1990s while she was his intern and a student at New York University. On October 5, 2009, Letterman devoted a segment of his show to a public apology to his wife and staff. Three days later, Worldwide Pants announced that Birkitt had been placed on a "paid leave of absence" from the Late Show. On October 15, CBS News announced that the company's chief investigative correspondent, Armen Keteyian, had been assigned to conduct an "in-depth investigation" into Letterman.

Early Life

Letterman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1947, and has two sisters, one older and one younger. His father, Harry Joseph Letterman (April 15, 1915 – February 13, 1973), was a florist. His mother, Dorothy Marie Letterman Mengering (née Hofert; July 18, 1921 – April 11, 2017), a church secretary for the Second Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, was an occasional figure on Letterman's show, usually at holidays and birthdays.Letterman grew up on the north side of Indianapolis, in the Broad Ripple area, about 12 miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He enjoyed collecting model cars, including racers. In 2000, he told an interviewer for Esquire that, while growing up, he admired his father's ability to tell jokes and be the life of the party. Harry Joseph Letterman survived a heart attack at the age of 36, when David was a young boy. The fear of losing his father was constantly with Letterman as he grew up. The elder Letterman died of a second heart attack in 1973, at the age of 57. Letterman attended his hometown's Broad Ripple High School and worked as a stock boy at the local Atlas Supermarket. According to the Ball State Daily News, he originally wanted to attend Indiana University, but his grades were not good enough, so he instead attended Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana. He is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and graduated in 1969 from what was then the Department of Radio and Television. A self-described average student, Letterman later endowed a scholarship for what he called "C students" at Ball State. Though he registered for the draft and passed his physical after graduating from college, he was not drafted for service in Vietnam because he received a draft lottery number of 346 (out of 366).Letterman began his broadcasting career as an announcer and newscaster at the college's student-run radio station—WBST—a 10-watt campus station that is now part of Indiana Public Radio. He was fired for treating classical music with irreverence. He then became involved with the founding of another campus station—WAGO-AM 570 (now WWHI, 91.3).He credits Paul Dixon, host of the Paul Dixon Show, a Cincinnati-based talk show also shown in Indianapolis while he was growing up, for inspiring his choice of career: I was just out of college [in 1969], and I really didn't know what I wanted to do. And then all of a sudden I saw him doing it [on TV]. And I thought: That's really what I want to do! Weatherman. Soon after graduating from Ball State in 1969, Letterman began his career as a radio talk show host on WNTS (AM) and on Indianapolis television station WLWI (which changed its call sign to WTHR in 1976) as an anchor and weatherman. He received some attention for his unpredictable on-air behavior, which included congratulating a tropical storm for being upgraded to a hurricane and predicting hailstones "the size of canned hams." He also occasionally reported the weather and the day's very high and low temps for fictitious cities ("Eight inches of snow in Bingree and surrounding areas"), on another occasion saying that the state border between Indiana and Ohio had been erased when a satellite map accidentally omitted it, attributing it to dirty political dealings. ("The higher-ups have removed the border between Indiana and Ohio, making it one giant state. Personally, I'm against it. I don't know what to do about it.") He also starred in a local kiddie show, made wisecracks as host of a late-night TV show called "Freeze-Dried Movies" (he once acted out a scene from Godzilla using plastic dinosaurs), and hosted a talk show that aired early on Saturday mornings called Clover Power, in which he interviewed 4-H members about their projects.In 1971, Letterman appeared as a pit road reporter for ABC Sports' tape-delayed coverage of the Indianapolis 500, which was his first nationally telecast appearance (WLWI was the local ABC affiliate at the time). He was initially introduced as Chris Economaki, but this was corrected at the end of the interview (Jim McKay announced his name as Dave Letterman). Letterman interviewed Mario Andretti, who had just crashed out of the race. Move to Los Angeles. In 1975, encouraged by his then-wife Michelle and several of his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers, Letterman moved to Los Angeles, California, with hope of becoming a comedy writer. He and Michelle packed their belongings in his pickup truck and headed west. As of 2012, he still owned the truck. In Los Angeles, he began performing comedy at The Comedy Store. Jimmie Walker saw him on stage; with an endorsement from George Miller, Letterman joined a group of comedians whom Walker hired to write jokes for his stand-up act, a group that at various times also included Jay Leno, Paul Mooney, Robert Schimmel, Richard Jeni, Louie Anderson, Elayne Boosler, Byron Allen, Jack Handey, and Steve Oedekerk.By the summer of 1977, Letterman was a writer and regular on the six-week summer series The Starland Vocal Band Show, broadcast on CBS. He hosted a 1977 pilot for a game show called The Riddlers (which was never picked up), and co-starred in the Barry Levinson-produced comedy special Peeping Times, which aired in January 1978. Later that year, Letterman was a cast member on Mary Tyler Moore's variety show, Mary. He made a guest appearance on Mork & Mindy (as a parody of EST leader Werner Erhard) and appearances on game shows such as The $20,000 Pyramid, The Gong Show, Hollywood Squares, Password Plus, and Liar's Club, as well as the Canadian cooking show Celebrity Cooks (November 1977), talk shows such as 90 Minutes Live (February 24 and April 14, 1978), and The Mike Douglas Show (April 3, 1979 and February 7, 1980). He was also screen tested for the lead role in the 1980 film Airplane!, a role that eventually went to Robert Hays.Letterman's brand of dry, sarcastic humor caught the attention of scouts for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and he was soon a regular guest on the show. He became a favorite of Carson and was a regular guest host for the show beginning in 1978. Letterman credits Carson as the person who influenced his career the most.

Movies & TV shows

2021.

1 Movie

2020.

3 Movies

2019.

3 Movies · 1 TV show

2018.

4 Movies · 2 TV shows

2017.

3 Movies

2015.

4 Movies

2014.

2 Movies

2013.

1 TV show

2012.

2 Movies · 1 TV show

2011.

2 Movies

2009.

1 TV show

2008.

1 TV show

2007.

1 Movie · 1 TV show

2005.

2 Movies · 1 TV show

2000.

1 TV show

1999.

2 TV shows

1997.

1 Movie · 1 TV show

1996.

2 Movies · 3 TV shows

1995.

2 TV shows

1994.

2 Movies · 1 TV show

1993.

3 TV shows

1989.

1 Movie · 2 TV shows

1984.

1 Movie

1982.

1 TV show

1981.

1 TV show

1980.

1 TV show

1979.

1 Movie

1978.

1 Movie · 1 TV show

1962.

1 TV show

1959.

1 TV show

1953.

1 TV show

1949.

1 TV show
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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "David_Letterman", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.