David Letterman

David Letterman

Television presenter, producer, comedian.
Date of Birth: 12.04.1947
Country: USA

Content:
  1. David Letterman: The Iconic American Television Host
  2. Early Life and Career Beginnings
  3. The Rise to Fame
  4. The Cult Status and Memorable Moments
  5. Personal Struggles and Controversies

David Letterman: The Iconic American Television Host

David Letterman, an American television host, comedian, writer, producer, and actor, was ranked 45th on TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time". Known for pushing celebrities to their limits, battling hypochondria and alcohol addiction, becoming the victim of a schizophrenic stalker and a blackmailer, repenting his affairs to the world, and retiring in glory, Letterman hosted his popular late-night talk show, aptly named "Late Show with David Letterman", for a remarkable 33 years, from February 1, 1982, to March 20, 2015.

David Letterman

Early Life and Career Beginnings

David Michael Letterman was born on April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the son of a florist, Harry Joseph Letterman, and a church secretary, Dorothy Mary Hofert. His father suffered a heart attack at the age of 36 and later passed away from a second heart attack at the age of 57. According to the student newspaper "Ball State Daily News", David initially wanted to attend Indiana University but was forced to enroll at Ball State University due to his "not good enough grades". Letterman began his career as a radio announcer on the campus station WBST. However, he was fired from there for making "disrespectful remarks about classical music".

David Letterman

The Rise to Fame

While working as a weatherman for an Indianapolis television station, David garnered attention with his unpredictable on-screen behavior. He congratulated viewers on tropical storms, forecasted hail "the size of canned hams," and spoke about the weather in fictional cities. In 1975, David and his then-wife Michelle Cook embarked on a journey to Los Angeles, California, in their pickup truck, hoping to become comedy writers. In LA, Letterman performed at "The Comedy Store", a popular comedy club. By the summer of 1977, he started writing and appearing on the CBS show "The Starland Vocal Band Show". In 1980, he auditioned for the lead role in the film "Airplane!", but the part went to Robert Hays.

David Letterman

Letterman's dry and sarcastic humor caught the attention of talent scouts from "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson". Soon, David became a regular guest and a favorite of Carson. On June 23, 1980, Letterman launched his own comedic show, "The David Letterman Show", on NBC. Although the program received critical acclaim and won two Emmy Awards, it was canceled in October 1980 due to low ratings. However, Letterman remained under contract with NBC and on February 1, 1982, he introduced "Late Night with David Letterman". The first episode featured the "big curmudgeon" Bill Murray as the guest. Murray also appeared in the show's 30th-anniversary episode on January 31, 2012, as well as the final episode on May 20, 2015.

David Letterman

The Cult Status and Memorable Moments

Letterman's unpredictable and captivating show quickly gained a cult following, especially among college students. The witty host engaged in verbal sparring with celebrities, including Shirley MacLaine, Charles Grodin, and Madonna. His exchange of quips with Cher on the show led the singer to call David a "jerk". David's first marriage to Michelle Cook lasted from 1968 to 1977. He began dating Regina Lasko in 1986 while still in a relationship with Merrill Markoe, one of the head writers and producers of "Late Night with David Letterman". David and Regina tied the knot on March 19, 2009.

David Letterman

Personal Struggles and Controversies

Letterman's relationship with Merrill Markoe resulted in the birth of their son, Harry Joseph Letterman, on November 3, 2003. In 2005, a plot to kidnap Harry and demand a five-million-dollar ransom was uncovered. A painter named Kelly Frank, who worked for Letterman, was implicated in the conspiracy. From May 1988, Letterman also endured a period of being stalked by Margaret Mary Ray, who suffered from schizophrenia and erotomania. She stole his Porsche, slept on his tennis court, and repeatedly broke into his home. David shared these incidents on his talk show but never revealed the stalker's name. After Ray committed suicide in October 1998, Letterman told "The New York Times" that he had felt great compassion towards her.

David Letterman

On October 1, 2009, Letterman announced on his show that he was a victim of blackmail. The extortionist demanded two million dollars, threatening to expose David's affairs with multiple female staff members. Letterman reluctantly confessed to his audience that he had engaged in extramarital relationships. However, before this revelation, Letterman had contacted the authorities, and a sting operation was set up, resulting in the arrest of Robert J. Halderman, a well-known producer with an Emmy nomination. Halderman pleaded guilty on March 9, 2010, and received six months in jail, five years of probation, and 1,000 hours of community service.

David Letterman

On October 5, 2009, David dedicated a portion of his show to publicly apologizing to his wife and staff. Letterman has since quit drinking entirely. He has openly spoken about his past struggles with alcoholism, describing himself as a "terrible alcoholic" who constantly had a bottle with him from the ages of 13 or 14 until he was 34. In 2015, Letterman said, "For years and years and years - 30-some years - I lived in fear, with hypochondria, with alcoholism, and with many, many, many other things that made me not like everybody else." Letterman found peace through a combination of transcendental meditation and low-dose tranquilizers.

David Letterman

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