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David Letterman

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Also Known As: Earl Hofert, David Michael Letterman Died:
Born: April 12, 1947 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA Profession: TV host, comedian, producer, comedy writer, news anchor, weatherman, announcer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

As the host of two award-winning late night talk shows, David Letterman and his ironic style were powerful influences on the changing comedy landscape of the 1980s, 1990s and beyond. From the start of his 11-year run on "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC, 1982-1993), Letterman promptly disassembled the conventional talk show format, slyly poking fun at the medium, the guests and the audience. His penchant for self-deprecation and sarcasm may have been a factor in NBC's decision to hand over "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1952- ) and its more conservative 11:30 p.m. time slot to Jay Leno upon Johnny Carson's 1993 retirement - a deal that incurred Letterman's wrath enough that he jumped ship to CBS. Taking his team with him, he launched "The Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS, 1993- ) where he continued to flourish in the same irreverent capacity. Leno may have dominated the ratings, but Letterman took home the Emmys while becoming executive producer of primetime comedy hits like "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS, 1996-2005) and "Ed" (NBC, 2000-04). Despite nearly three decades on television, Letterman remained staunchly private, though he often made headlines for questionable jokes, his alleged feud with...

As the host of two award-winning late night talk shows, David Letterman and his ironic style were powerful influences on the changing comedy landscape of the 1980s, 1990s and beyond. From the start of his 11-year run on "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC, 1982-1993), Letterman promptly disassembled the conventional talk show format, slyly poking fun at the medium, the guests and the audience. His penchant for self-deprecation and sarcasm may have been a factor in NBC's decision to hand over "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 1952- ) and its more conservative 11:30 p.m. time slot to Jay Leno upon Johnny Carson's 1993 retirement - a deal that incurred Letterman's wrath enough that he jumped ship to CBS. Taking his team with him, he launched "The Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS, 1993- ) where he continued to flourish in the same irreverent capacity. Leno may have dominated the ratings, but Letterman took home the Emmys while becoming executive producer of primetime comedy hits like "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS, 1996-2005) and "Ed" (NBC, 2000-04). Despite nearly three decades on television, Letterman remained staunchly private, though he often made headlines for questionable jokes, his alleged feud with Oprah Winfrey, bypass surgery, having a stalker, death threats and being blackmailed for affairs with subordinates. But through it all, Letterman kept the juggernaut going and remained atop the ratings heap as the true king of late night for generations of viewers and fellow comics who still looked to the gap-toothed trailblazer as their Carson. In 2013, Letterman broke his early mentor's record, logging 31 years as a late night talk show host. Letterman announced in April 2014 that he would be retiring the following year.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Private Parts (1997) Himself
3.
 Cabin Boy (1994) Old Salt In Fishing Village
4.
 Fast Friends (1979) Matt Morgan
5.
 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time (2004) Honoree (Archival Footage)
9.
10.
 Regis Philbin: Made For TV (1998) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began broadcasting career as an announcer and newscaster at Ball State University's student-run radio station, WBST
1969:
Landed a full-time job with Indianapolis television station WLWI (later called WTHR) as a local anchor and weatherman
1974:
Hosted the radio talk show WXLW (AM) in Indianapolis
1975:
Moved to Los Angeles; made stand-up comedy debut at The Comedy Store
1977:
Worked as an announcer and regular on the short-lived CBS variety series "Starland Vocal Band Show"; also wrote for the series
1978:
Appeared as a regular on the short-lived CBS variety series "Mary," starring Mary Tyler Moore; also wrote for the series
1978:
First appeared on "The Tonight Show" (NBC); was a regular guest host
1980:
Hosted the morning show, "The David Letterman Show" (NBC); was canceled after four months
1982:
Debuted "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC) which aired immediately following "The Tonight Show" (NBC); received consecutive Emmy nominations from 1984-1993 for Writing and/or Producing
1993:
Offered $14 million annually to host a late night show for CBS that would compete with "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (NBC)
1993:
Moved to CBS to produce and star in the "Late Show with David Letterman"; received consecutive Emmy nominations from 1994-2009 for Performance, Writing and/or Producing
1993:
Formed production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated
1994:
Made a cameo appearance in the feature "Cabin Boy" (billed as Earl Hofert)
1995:
Hosted the 67th Academy Awards ceremony
1996:
Produced the Emmy Award-winning sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS), starring Ray Romano
2000:
Produced the NBC dramedy series "Ed"
2002:
After much speculation and wooing by ABC, re-signed with CBS to continue hosting "Late Night with David Letterman" (March)
2005:
Produced first feature film "Strangers with Candy," a prequel to the Comedy Central series created by and starring Amy Sedaris
2006:
Signed a contract with CBS to stay on the air until at least 2010; expected to make a reported $38 million a year
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Broad Ripple High School: Indianapolis , Indiana -
Ball State University: Muncie , Indiana - 1969

Notes

"Detached, ironic, a tad contemptuous of the medium that employs him and the public it entertains, he is that most ambivalent of society's creatures: a gadfly who stings to please. At his worst he comes off as a superannuated sophomore with an attitude and a budget. At his best he deftly trims the fat off some of the famous blubberheads we have empedestaled as culture heroes. He is the greatest boon to insomniacs since the all-night diner and, for those already asleep, the sharpest spur to the purchase of a VCR since blue movies." (Some thoughts on Letterman from an unidentified, published article)

Letterman received a Honey Board award at the First Annual Honey Month Hall of Fame along with Johnny Carson and Willard Scott; inductess received life-sized busts of themselves cast in beeswax (1989).

"Well, first of all, I wouldn't be hanging around foreigners. You know that I'm xenophobic. (chuckles) I'm the guy running the TV show. Not really a host. Anybody that has seen me work knows that. And, by the way, there have been very few quests in my home. Especially foreign guests. I don't know. You're the guy on the show with the best wardrobe, so people in the audiance at least know where to look. Everything falls into place after that. There is very little skill involved with it. You just have to smile when things aren't that funny. And when things are sort of funny, then you have to laugh like crazy. I'll be doing a lot of that here today with you. That's about it. Everything else is done in the control room."---Letterman's responce when asked how he would explain his show to foreigners quoted in Esquire, December 1994.

On why Letterman hasn't given any interviews since 1996: "He feels he has an hour each night to talk, and he can do all the talking about himself that he wants to do there."---Rob Burnett (Letterman's Producer) to EW, June 24, 2002.

A recent gag on "Late Show" featured Letterman asking Indianapolis officials to rename Interstate 465 the "David Letterman Expressway." The Lawrence, Indiana officials couldn't do that, but the council did rename, as David Drive, a portion of 59th Street near the former Fort Harrison. The now "David Drive" crosses an existing street called "Letterman Road," and was named years ago for a hospital in San Francisco, which runs through an area that once was part of the fort.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Michele Cook. College sweethearts; married c. 1969; divorced in 1977.
companion:
Merrill Markoe. Writer. Worked on "The David Letterman Show" and "Late Night with David Letterman".
companion:
Regina Lasko. Production manager. Worked for "Saturday Night Live".

Family close complete family listing

father:
Harry Joseph Letterman. Florist. Died in 1974.
mother:
Dorothy Letterman. Church secretary, TV personality. Born in 1921.
sister:
Janice Letterman. Older.
sister:
Gretchen Letterman. Editorial writer. Works for the St. Petersburg, Florida <i>Times</i>; younger.
son:
Harry Joseph Letterman. Born November 3, 2003; named after Letterman's father; mother Regina.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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