David Letterman

TV host, Comedian, Comedy writer
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 ... Read more »
Born: 04/11/1947 in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Filmography

Actor (70)

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver 2014 (Tv Show)

Special Appearance

The 35th Annual Kennedy Center Honors 2012 - 2013 (TV Show)

Actor

Jimmy Kimmel Live 2012 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Comedy Awards 2010 - 2011 (TV Show)

Actor

Billy Crystal: The Mark Twain Prize 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

Cosby 1996 - 1998, 2007 - 2008 (Tv Show)

Actor

Julia Roberts: American Cinematheque Tribute 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

Spin City 1996 - 1997, 2007 - 2008 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Late Show With David Letterman 1996 - 1998, 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

D Tour: A Tenacious Documentary 2007 (Movie)

(Actor)

100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

Mouthing Off: 51 Greatest Smartasses 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

Regis Philbin: Made For TV 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

CBS: The First 50 Years 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Intimate Portrait: Mary Tyler Moore 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Private Parts 1997 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Comic Relief VII 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

The Dana Carvey Show 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The 67th Annual Academy Awards 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Cabin Boy 1994 (Movie)

Old Salt in Fishing Village (Actor)

The 12 Most Fascinating People of 1993 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Donahue: The 25th Anniversary 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Late Night With David Letterman 1981 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The American Television Awards 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The Comedy Store's 20th Birthday 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The Barbara Walters Special (01/29/92) 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

2 Years... Later 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Sunday Night With Larry King 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Skyscraper 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

The Comedy Store 15th Year Class Reunion 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

David Letterman's Old-Fashioned Christmas 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Glamorous Living 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

The 39th Annual Emmy Awards 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Action Family 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Paul Shaffer: Viva Shaf Vegas 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

The 38th Annual Emmy Awards 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

The Jay Leno Show 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Late Night Film Festival 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

The NBC All-Star Hour 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

The Television Academy Hall of Fame 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

The David Letterman Show 1979 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

Battle of the Network Stars V 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Celebrity Cooks 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Mary 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

Peeping Times 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

The Starland Vocal Band 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

Fast Friends (TV Show)

Actor

It's Just a Ride (TV Show)

Actor
Producer (8)

The Knights of Prosperity 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

The Youngest Candidate 2007 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Strangers with Candy 2006 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Ed 2000 - 2004 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

The High Life 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

The Bonnie Hunt Show 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

The Building 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Carol Doesn't Leifer Anymore 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Executive Producer
Writer (3)

Late Show With David Letterman Video Special 3 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Writer

The Paul Lynde Comedy Hour 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Writer

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 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.

Relationships

Michele Cook

Wife
College sweethearts Married on July 2, 1968 Divorced on Oct. 13, 1978

Regina Lasko Production Manager

Wife
Together since 1996 Married on March 19, 2009 in a courthouse ceremony

Dorothy Letterman Production Manager

Mother
Born on July 18, 1921; made occasional appearances on "Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS)

Harry Letterman

Father
Died in 1973

Harry Letterman

Son
Born Nov. 3, 2003; mother, Regina Lasko; was the namesake of Letterman's father Harry Joe Letterman

Gretchen Letterman

Sister
Worked for the St. Petersburg Times

Janice Letterman

Sister
Older

Merrill Markoe Actor

Companion
Had a long term relationship Briefly engaged

EDUCATION

Ball State University

Muncie , Indiana 1969
Was an announcer and newscaster at the college's student-run radio station, WBST (currently part of Indiana Public Radio)

Broad Ripple High School

Indianapolis , Indiana

Milestones

2006

Signed a contract with CBS to stay on the air until at least 2010; expected to make a reported $38 million a year

2005

Produced first feature film "Strangers with Candy," a prequel to the Comedy Central series created by and starring Amy Sedaris

2002

After much speculation and wooing by ABC, re-signed with CBS to continue hosting "Late Night with David Letterman" (March)

2000

Produced the NBC dramedy series "Ed"

1996

Produced the Emmy Award-winning sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS), starring Ray Romano

1995

Hosted the 67th Academy Awards ceremony

1994

Made a cameo appearance in the feature "Cabin Boy" (billed as Earl Hofert)

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

Formed production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated

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

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

1980

Hosted the morning show, "The David Letterman Show" (NBC); was canceled after four months

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

1977

Worked as an announcer and regular on the short-lived CBS variety series "Starland Vocal Band Show"; also wrote for the series

1975

Moved to Los Angeles; made stand-up comedy debut at The Comedy Store

1974

Hosted the radio talk show WXLW (AM) in Indianapolis

1968

Landed a full-time job with Indianapolis television station WLWI (later called WTHR) as a local anchor and weatherman

Began broadcasting career as an announcer and newscaster at Ball State University's student-run radio station, WBST

Bonus Trivia

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"I like talking about things that happen in my life if I think I can make me the butt of the joke. But I'm not crazy about actually talking about real things in my life: the women in my life, or my own political feelings and beliefs, limited as they are. If something funny happens in the supermarket, I like trying to talk about that. Because I think – and this may be completely misguided – if I were at home watching a show, I'd like to hear about Johnny Carson getting a flat tire. But I don't want to start explaining in great detail what makes me happy, what makes me sad, that kind of crap." – Letterman to Time magazine, Feb. 6, 1989

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"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) on why Letterman hasn't given an interview since 1996, quoted in Entertainment Weekly, June 24, 2002

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On Jan. 14, 2000, a routine check-up revealed that an artery in Letterman's heart was severely constricted. He was rushed to emergency surgery for a quintuple bypass. During his recovering from surgery, Letterman allowed Bill Cosby, Kathie Lee Gifford, Dana Carvey, Janeane Garofalo, and others to host new episodes of "The Late Show" (CBS).

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Letterman again handed over the reins of the show to several guest hosts (including Bill Cosby, Brad Garrett, Elvis Costello, John McEnroe, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Bonnie Hunt, Luke Wilson and bandleader Paul Shaffer) in February 2003, when he was diagnosed with a severe case of shingles.

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"The Late Show" went off air for 8 weeks during the months of November and December due to the Writer's Guild of America strike. David Letterman's production company World Wide Pants was the first company to make an individual agreement with the WGA, thus allowing his show to come back on air on Jan. 2, 2008.

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In 2005, police unfoiled a plot to kidnap David Letterman's son, Harry and ransom him for $5 million. Kelly Frank, a former painter of the Lettermans' was charged for the conspiracy.

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On his Oct. 1, 2009 show, Letterman announced that he had been the victim of an extortion attempt by someone threatening to reveal that he had had sex with more than one of his female employees. He confirmed the relationships.Letterman revealed that three weeks earlier (on Sept. 9, 2009) 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 $2 million. Letterman said that he contacted the District Attorney's office, ultimately cooperating with them to conduct a sting operation involving giving the man a phony check. The alleged extortionist, Robert J. Halderman, was subsequently arrested after trying to cash the check.Stephanie Birkitt, one of Letterman's assistants who has been linked romantically to Letterman, had previously been a member of the CBS page program before joining Letterman's a staff. Birkett had until recently lived with Halderman, who is alleged to have copied Birkitt's personal diary and to have used it, along with private emails, in the blackmail package.On his October 5 show, Letterman devoted a segment to a public apology to his wife and staff.

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On Oct. 3, 2009, a former CBS employee, Holly Hester, announced that she and Letterman had engaged in a year-long affair in the early 1990s while she was his intern.

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In 2012, Letterman was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, the nation’s top award for those who have influenced culture through the arts.

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