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David Letterman | Biography & Facts | 2020 [UPDATED]

Ryan Williams
By Ryan Williams
David Letterman Bio
22 October 2020
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David Letterman Biography & Facts: David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an American late-night talk show television host, comedian, writer, and producer best known for the late Show with David Letterman.

In this post, we’re gonna spill everything you want to know about the legendary TV show host and household name that is the one and only David Letterman… 

… aka Nurse Dave as George Clooney nicknamed him.

We’re going to be diving deep into:

  • His Early Life, & Family – his Wife, Son, Mom and Dad
  • His Personal Statistics – height/ weight/ hair color
  • Movies & Books

Lots more…

My next guest needs no introduction…

Let’s make a start.

Who Is David Letterman?

David Michael Letterman, is an American former television talk show host, comedian, writer, and producer, best known for the late Show with David Letterman.

Ranked 45th on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time. His company, Worldwide Pants – great name Dave…

…produced his shows as well as The Late Late Show.

Here are some quick facts:

Who Is David Letterman
Expert On: Hosting and Comedy
Martial Status: Married
Date of Birth: April 12, 1947 [currentage]
Current Occupation: Hosts the Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman
Nationality: American
Languages: English
Religion: Non-religious
Height: 6 ft. 2 in
Weight: 78 kg
Tattoos: None
Eye Color: Blue
Zodiac Sign: Aries
David Letterman Net Worth: $400 million
Place Of Birth: Indianapolis, Indiana
Favorite Color: Black
Favorite Food: Pizza
Smoking/ Drinking: He said in an interview that he hasn’t had a drink for fifteen years
Friends: Bill Murray, Robert Williams, Drew Barrymore, Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Bill Cosby, Ray Romano, Mary Tyler Moore, Johnny Carson, Madonna, Julia Roberts, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien, Richard Pryor, Regis Philbin, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Dave Grohl, Louie Anderson, Charles Grodin, Paul Shaffer, Byron Allen, Calvert DeForest.

The Young David Letterman

You might be wondering…

What did Nurse Dave look like in his youth?

David Letterman Biography
Young David Letterman
Young David Letterman

Tadaaah! 

This is the early David Letterman…

Letterman attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana in September 1965, majoring in radio and television. 

He volunteered at campus station WBST, an outfit typical of campus radio productions.

According to the Ball State Daily News, he had originally wanted to attend Indiana University.

But turned out…

…his grades weren’t good enough, so instead, he attended Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana. 

Nevertheless, he’s a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and he graduated in 1969 from what was then the Department of Radio and Television. 

A self-described average student, he later earned a scholarship for what he called “C students” at Ball State.

Nurse Dave began his broadcasting career as an announcer and newscaster at WBTS. 

But…

… he was fired for his irreverent handling of classical music. 

He later became involved with the founding of another WAGO-AM 570 (now WWHI, 91.3) campus station.

David Letterman Family & Relationships

Partners 

His first wife was Michelle Cook. She was Letterman’s college girlfriend and they were married in 1968.

Not a great image, but you get the gist…

He had a long-term connection with Merill Markoe, who worked on the TV series and later became the head editor, after divorcing Michelle Cook.

David Letterman Relationships

He then became acquainted in 1986 with Regina Lasko, who for the next 23 years was his girlfriend.

Lasko worked on Letterman ‘s show too. Together, they had a son in 2003, named after Dave’s late father, Harry.

Lasko finally became his second wife in March 2009…

…But here’s the kicker:

Shortly after he married Lasko, there was a scandal. 

Dave was rumored to had been cheating on Lasko with female members of his staff in his offices at CBS.

David Letterman Relationships

One of his lovers was Stephanie Birkitt. Her boyfriend, Robert Halderman, tried to extort Letterman for a large amount of $2 million over the affair, so David made the initiative to disclose his deceitfulness on-air and eventually worked hard to save his marriage.

Could do better Dave, 5/10!

David Letterman Son

Nurse Dave’s only son is Harry Joseph, born in New York. 

His mother was the production manager of the Late Show, Regina Lasko. 

In February 1986, when his father David was still in a relationship with Merrill Markoe, an author and producer on Letterman ‘s show, Harry ‘s parents began dating.

Regina soon became pregnant and, on November 3, 2003, gave birth to Letterman ‘s son, Harry, in North Salem, New York , USA.

David Letterman Family

In 2005, a plot to kidnap Harry was discovered by the police – the kidnapper demanded $5 million as ransom money.

The man responsible for this plot was their house painter – identified as Kelly Frank.

He was charged with conspiracy.

Traumatic experience, indeed!

David Letterman’s Mum 

Dorothy Mengering wasn’t just his mom, but everyone’s mom.

Lena Marie Strietelmeier Hofert and Earl Jacob Hofert Sr gave birth to their eldest child, Dorothy, in Linton on 18th of July 1921.

She graduated from Linton-Stockton High School and studied business skills at the University of Indiana, returning to Linton on weekends, where she met Harry Joe Letterman, a church organist, and manufacturer of fine dahlias and gladiolas. 

They were married in 1942 and left Linton for Indianapolis. Three girls, Janice, David, and Gretchen, were raised there. 

Dorothy spent 10 years on her own, staying at Second Church, after her husband Joe died at the age of 57 in 1973. 

She met the man who would become her second husband and traveling partner, Hans P. Mengering, during that period.

David Letterman Family

David Letterman’s Dad 

Harry Joseph Letterman aka “Harry Joe” was born on April 15, 1915, at Linton, Greene County, Indiana, United States to parents Frank Letterman and Anna Letterman.

In 1942, he married Dorothy Hofert and lived in Indianapolis, where Joe began his career with the Berterman Brothers as a florist. On 34th Street and later on Keystone Avenue, Joe opened a flower store.

But a tragic event happened…

He 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. 

But sadly the elder Letterman died of a second heart attack in 1973, at the age of 57.

David Letterman Family

David Letterman’s Sisters 

David Letterman Family
Janice Elaine – The eldest sibling, Janice Elaine, was married to William Knox Millholland in September 1963. They have children, Bryn, and Bill.
David Letterman Family
Gretchen – The youngest of the three siblings, Gretchen, spent 31 years as a journalist at the Tampa Bay Times

David Letterman Education

Nurse Dave attended Broad Ripple High School in his town and worked at the nearby Atlas Store as a stock boy.

He attended Ball State University during college and graduated in 1969 from the Department of Radio and Television. 

Letterman began his broadcasting career as an announcer and newscaster at the college’s student-run radio station—WBST.

Kudos, Dave!

Now: 

We’re about to dig deeper into how he started his journey towards being one of the most successful talk show hosts of all time.

 Sit tight…

Let’s begin…

David Letterman Career

Career Beginnings -1969

Soon after graduating from Ball State in 1969, Letterman began his career as a radio talk show host on WNTS (AM) and Indianapolis television station WLWI as an anchor and weatherman.

ABC Sports – 1979

In 1971, Letterman appeared as a pit road reporter for ABC Sports’ tape-delayed coverage of the Indianapolis 500, which was his first nationally televised appearance.

The Comedy Store – 1975

In 1975, Letterman moved to Los Angeles and began performing comedy at The Comedy Store. Noticed by Jimmie Walker and with an endorsement from George Miller, he was hired to write jokes for Jimmie’s stand-up act.

The Starland Vocal Band Show – 1977

Letterman became a writer and regular on The Starland Vocal Band Show, a six-week summer series aired on CBS by the summer of 1977

He hosted a 1977 pilot for a game show entitled The Riddlers and co-starred in the Peeping Times comedy special created by Barry Levinson. 

He was a cast member of the Mary Tyler Moore variety show, Mary, later that year.

 The Tonight Show – 1978

Letterman’s humor caught the attention of scouts for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and he was soon a regular guest on the show beginning in 1978.

The DL Show – 1980

On June 23, 1980, Letterman was given his morning comedy show on NBC, The David Letterman Show.

Late Night With DL – 1982

NBC kept Letterman on their payroll so they could try him in a different time slot. Late Night with David Letterman debuted February 1, 1982.

The Late Show with DL – 1992

When Johnny Carson retired, most of his fans hoped that the host of The Tonight Show would become Letterman. Letterman quit NBC to host his late-night show on CBS, challenging the Tonight Show at 11:30 p.m., called The Late Show with David Letterman, when NBC turned over the job to Jay Leno.

Launch – 1993

The Late Show with David Letterman launched on August 30, 1993, and was taped at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater.

Awards/ Medals

Nurse Dave is one of the most-nominated people in the history of the Emmy Awards with 52 nominations, 2 Daytime Emmy Awards, and 10 Primetime Emmys in 1981.

Not only that…

…he won four American Comedy Awards and became the first winner of the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence at the Comedy Awards in 2011.

Here’s more:

In 2012, he became the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.

And lastly…

On May 16, 2017, he was named the next recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

David Letterman Career

David Letterman Scandals & Controversies

Just like any other celebrity, Letterman has had his fair share of controversies that triggered the curiosity of different media outlets. And to dig deeper into that, let’s take a look at the issues Dave encountered over the years.

David Letterman vs. Jay Leno (1992)

On May 22, 1992, Johnny Carson, the host of NBC’s The Tonight show, retired from the program. However, it was rumored that Dave would take over hosting the show, but Carson chose Jay Leno instead.

As a result, he resigned from NBC and had his own night show CBS which began in 1993.

Late Show with DL became the rival of NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

David Letterman vs. Robert Halderman 2009

In October 2009, Robert “Joe” Halderman, the former CBS news provider, was accused of blackmailing Letterman for $2 million. Letterman said in his show that someone had threatened to expose his sexual affairs with female staff employees in the form of a screenplay and a book if he was not paid off.

In the end, Halderman pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny in the second degree and received a six-month jail sentence, to be followed by year’s probation and 1,000 hours of community service.He was released from Rikers Island on Sept. 2, 2010, after serving four months of his six-month sentence.

Interesting Facts About David Letterman

We’re not through yet —

Here are some fun facts about the former late-night host:

  1. He worked as a grocery bagger in Indianapolis while in high school.
  2. The 33-year streak of Letterman makes him the longest-running host of late-night TV. (Johnny Carson was thirty.)
  3. His favorite band, Foo Fighters, performed in his final broadcast.
  4. At his late-night show, he never wore the same tie twice.
  5. The pencils he used on his talk-show desk had erasers on both ends, so when he threw them, no one was hurt.
 Here Are 5 Interesting Facts About David Letterman According to bouncemojo.com

David Letterman Movies

The following are the movies David starred throughout his career

Cabin Boy

The quirky misadventures of a spoiled, affluent boy who ends up lost at sea. 

Man On The Moon

Man on the Moon is a biographical movie about Andy Kaufman, the late comedian.

Private Parts

The autobiographical and comical tale of Howard Stern and how he became a famous radio and TV personality.

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America

When their TV is stolen, Beavis and Butt-Head hit the road in a hilarious film debut.

Sully

The life of Chesley Sullenberger, who, after gliding his aircraft along the Hudson River, became a hero.

Want to see David in action? Follow the Amazon US links above.

David Letterman Books

Late Night with David Letterman Book of Top Ten Lists

These are the top ten lists of categories provided by David Letterman.

David Letterman Business Interests

David Letterman Business

Nurse Dave started his production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated, in 1991. The company produced his show and also produced feature films and documentaries. WPI founded its own record label, Clear Entertainment.

On the other hand…

… he also invested in an auto racing team together with Bobby Rahal, and Mike Lanigan, who are co-owners of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. 

The late-night talk show host has tons of money but also has a heart of gold, he is affiliated to several charities, and has helped a lot of less fortunate people as a result. 

Dave founded the Letterman Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming, which donated millions of dollars to charities and other non-profit organizations such as Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Ball State University, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, and Médecins Sans Frontières.

To know more about his business ventures, check out David Letterman’s Net Worth.

You’re almost there—but we still have more!

Next in line is his lifetime achievements.

Now: 

Let’s dig deeper into Dave’s achievements throughout his lifetime.

David Letterman Lifetime Achievements

  1. He founded Worldwide Pants Incorporated.
  2. He’s the longest-running late-night talk-show host in history.
  3. “The Late Show with David Letterman” was nominated for a whopping 76 Emmy awards.
  4. Above all, the accomplishment he is most proud of, however, is being able to give jobs to people.

Top 3 Quotes From David Letterman 

David Letterman Quotes

“Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees”

David Letterman Quotes

“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing”

David Letterman Quotes

“Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television”

Top 3 Memes – David Letterman

David Letterman Memes
David Letterman Memes
David Letterman Memes

David Letterman Bio: 5 Lessons

Want to think like Nurse Dave and follow his mindset to succeed in life and in your career?

Good on you!

Here are five lessons from David Letterman.

  1. Always remember the power of humor: David Letterman has had his share of struggles in his very public career, but the one thing he showed us is that laughter really is the best coping mechanism.  
  2. Never forget where you came from: Although he has lived for decades in the more prominent New York city, he’s an Indiana kid. He never ignores a chance to remind people where he’s from, brag about his home state, or use his resources to support others at home.
  3. When you make mistakes, own them: While several were disappointed with the scandal, the way in which Letterman deals with the aftermath is brilliant. He got extorted and he took the scenario public instead of allowing others to make the best of his errors. He took a private responsibility and made amends for his movements.
  4. Fame often results in the opposite of what it promises: Even though everyone would like to have a picture of him and would love to meet him, Letterman still seemed very lonely. Letterman must wonder for every relationship whether the person really wants to be his friend or really only wants a piece of his fame or power.
  5. Sincerity: Letterman ran a comedy show. That didn’t stop him from being sincere. He gave Julia Roberts and the other guests flowers. He displayed strong regard for peace while addressing social and global concerns with former or current presidents and elected officials.
Check out BounceMojo.com 5 Life Lessons from David Letterman – According to BounceMojo.com

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Where is Dave from?

Dave was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of the Hoosiers – according to BounceMojo.com

How tall is Dave?

He is 6’2 – according to BounceMojo.com

What High School and College did he go to?

Dave went to Broad Ripple High School. For College, Dave went to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana – according to BounceMojo.com

Did Dave belong to a fraternity?

Yes. Dave was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. And yes, he was quite the drinker then – according to BounceMojo.com

When did Dave start wearing glasses on air?

Dave wore his glasses on a daily basis for the first telecast on March 16th, 1998. In comedy bits, Dave usually wears his glasses too. – according to BounceMojo.com

What shows has Dave hosted?

Dave has hosted The David Letterman Show (1980), Late Night with David Letterman (1982-1993), Late Show with David Letterman (1993 – Present), The Academy Awards (1995), co-hosted the Emmy Awards (1986, thanks DDY and MS), and has guest-hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson – according to BounceMojo.com

Summary: David Letterman Biography

That’s it for Nurse Dave’s biography, he encountered a lot throughout his journey, but he was still able to succeed in his career and be an inspiration to all of us even through his setbacks.

My biggest takeaway from this…

… is to remain humble despite tremendous success just like Dave remained true to his down-to-earth personality with the people around him.

I hope you enjoyed this article – you might also want to check out David Letterman’s Net Worth, and the Best Bouncemojo Memes, or David Letterman Son Bio.