90 Facts About David Letterman

1.

David Michael Letterman was born on April 12, 1947 and is an American television host, comedian, writer and producer.

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2.

In total, David 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.

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3.

In 1996, David Letterman was ranked 45th on TV Guides 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.

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4.

In 2002, The Late Show with David Letterman was ranked seventh on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

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5.

Several late-night hosts have cited David Letterman's influence, including Conan O'Brien, Stephen Colbert (his successor on The Late Show), Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart, and Seth Meyers.

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6.

David Letterman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1947, and has two sisters, one older and one younger.

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7.

David Letterman's father, Harry Joseph Letterman, was a florist.

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8.

David Letterman's mother, Dorothy Marie Letterman Mengering, a church secretary for the Second Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, was an occasional figure on Letterman's show, usually at holidays and birthdays.

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9.

David Letterman grew up on the north side of Indianapolis, in the Broad Ripple area, about 12 miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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10.

Harry Joseph Letterman survived a heart attack at the age of 36 when David was a young boy.

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11.

The elder David Letterman died of a second heart attack in 1973 at the age of 57.

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12.

David Letterman attended his hometown's Broad Ripple High School and worked as a stock boy at the local Atlas Supermarket.

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13.

David Letterman is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and graduated in 1969 from what was then the Department of Radio and Television.

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14.

David 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 part of Indiana Public Radio.

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15.

David Letterman was fired for treating classical music with irreverence.

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16.

David Letterman 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.

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17.

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

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18.

David Letterman was initially introduced as Chris Economaki, but this was corrected at the end of the interview.

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19.

David Letterman interviewed Mario Andretti, who had just crashed out of the race.

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20.

In 1975, encouraged by his then-wife Michelle and several of his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers, David Letterman moved to Los Angeles, California, with the hope of becoming a comedy writer.

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21.

Jimmie Walker saw him on stage; with an endorsement from George Miller, David Letterman joined a group of comedians whom Walker hired to write jokes for his stand-up act, a group that at various times included Jay Leno, Paul Mooney, Robert Schimmel, Richard Jeni, Louie Anderson, Elayne Boosler, Byron Allen, Jack Handey, and Steve Oedekerk.

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22.

David Letterman hosted a 1977 pilot for a game show called The Riddlers, and co-starred in the Barry Levinson-produced comedy special Peeping Times, which aired in January 1978.

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23.

Later that year, David Letterman was a cast member on Mary Tyler Moore's variety show, Mary.

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24.

David Letterman's brand of dry, sarcastic humor caught the attention of scouts for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and he was a regular guest on the show.

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25.

David Letterman became a favorite of Carson and was a regular guest host for the show beginning in 1978.

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26.

Late Night with David Letterman debuted February 1, 1982; the first guest was Bill Murray.

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27.

David Letterman's shows have garnered both critical and industry praise, receiving 67 Emmy Award nominations, winning 12 times in his first 20 years in late night television.

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28.

From 1993 to 2009, David Letterman ranked higher than Leno in the annual Harris Poll of Nation's Favorite TV Personality 12 times.

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29.

For example, in 2003 and 2004 David Letterman ranked second in that poll, behind only Oprah Winfrey, a year that Leno was ranked fifth.

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30.

Years afterward, David Letterman recounted his hosting the Oscars, although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences continued to hold David Letterman in high regard and invited him to host the Oscars again.

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31.

David Letterman was rushed to emergency surgery for a quintuple bypass at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

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32.

Subsequently, while still recovering from surgery, David Letterman revived the late-night talk show tradition of "guest hosts" that had virtually disappeared on network television during the 1990s, allowing Bill Cosby, Kathie Lee Gifford, Dana Carvey, Janeane Garofalo, and others to host new episodes of the Late Show.

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33.

David Letterman featured a montage of faux news coverage of his bypass surgery, which included a clip of Letterman's heart for sale on the Home Shopping Network.

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34.

David Letterman hosted a doctor and nurse who'd helped perform the emergency quintuple-bypass heart surgery that saved his life in 2000.

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35.

Additionally, David Letterman invited the band Foo Fighters to play "Everlong", introducing them as "my favorite band, playing my favorite song.

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36.

David Letterman again handed over the reins of the show to several guest hosts in February 2003, when he was diagnosed with a severe case of shingles.

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37.

Later that year, David Letterman made regular use of guest hosts—including Tom Arnold and Kelsey Grammer—for new shows broadcast on Fridays.

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38.

David Letterman was interested, as he believed he could never match Leno's ratings at CBS due to David Letterman's complaint of weaker lead-ins from the network's late local news programs, but was reluctant to replace Koppel.

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39.

David Letterman addressed his decision to re-sign on the air, stating that he was content at CBS and that he had great respect for Koppel.

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40.

Later in his retirement David Letterman occasionally stated, in jest, that he had been fired.

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41.

In total, Letterman hosted 6, 080 episodes of Late Night and Late Show, surpassing friend and mentor Johnny Carson as the longest-serving late-night talk show host in U S television history.

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42.

David Letterman made a surprise appearance on stage in San Antonio, Texas when he was invited up for an extended segment during Steve Martin's and Martin Short's A Very Stupid Conversation show, saying "I retired, and.

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43.

In 2016, David Letterman joined the climate change documentary show Years of Living Dangerously as one of its celebrity correspondents.

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44.

In season two's premiere episode, David Letterman traveled to India to investigate the country's efforts to expand its inadequate energy grid, power its booming economy, and bring electricity to 300 million citizens for the first time.

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45.

David Letterman interviewed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and traveled to rural villages where power is a scarce luxury and explored the United States' role in India's energy future.

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46.

In 2018, David Letterman began hosting a six-episode monthly series of hour-long programs on Netflix consisting of long-form interviews and field segments.

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47.

In spite of Johnny Carson's clear intention to pass his title to David Letterman, NBC selected Jay Leno to host The Tonight Show after Carson's departure.

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48.

David Letterman maintained a close relationship with Carson through his break with NBC.

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49.

In early 2005, it was revealed that Carson occasionally sent jokes to David Letterman, who used them in his monologue; according to CBS senior vice president Peter Lassally, Carson got "a big kick out of it.

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50.

Oprah Winfrey appeared on David Letterman's show when he was hosting NBC's Late Night on May 2, 1989.

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51.

Winfrey and David Letterman appeared together in a Late Show promo aired during CBS's coverage of Super Bowl XLI in February 2007, with the two sitting next to each other on a couch watching the game.

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52.

Since the game was played between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears, the Indianapolis-born David Letterman wore a Peyton Manning jersey, while Winfrey, whose show was taped in Chicago, wore a Brian Urlacher jersey.

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53.

On September 10, 2007, David Letterman made his first appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

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54.

David Letterman wore the retired No 70 jersey of Art Donovan, a member of the Colts' Hall of Fame and a regular David Letterman guest.

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55.

David Letterman's beard was shaved off during the show on January 7, 2008.

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56.

David Letterman appeared in the pilot episode of the short-lived 1986 series Coach Toast, and appears with a bag over his head as a guest on Bonnie Hunt's 1990s sitcom The Building.

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57.

David Letterman appeared in The Simpsons as himself in a couch gag when the Simpsons find themselves in Late Night with David Letterman.

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58.

David Letterman had a cameo in the feature film Cabin Boy, with Chris Elliott, who worked as a writer for Letterman.

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59.

David Letterman appeared as himself in the Howard Stern biographical film Private Parts and the 1999 Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon, in a few episodes of Garry Shandling's 1990s TV series The Larry Sanders Show, and in "The Abstinence", a 1996 episode of the sitcom Seinfeld.

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60.

David Letterman provided vocals for the Warren Zevon song "Hit Somebody" from My Ride's Here, and provided the voice for Butt-head's father in the 1996 animated film Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, again credited as Earl Hofert.

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61.

In 2010, a documentary directed by Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina, Dying to do David Letterman, was released, featuring Steve Mazan, a standup comic, who has cancer and wants to appear on David Letterman's show.

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62.

David Letterman appeared as a guest on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight on May 29, 2012, when he was interviewed by Regis Philbin, the guest host and David Letterman's longtime friend.

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63.

In June 2013, David Letterman appeared in the second episode of season two of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

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64.

In Week 13 of the 2021 NFL season, David Letterman joined Peyton and Eli Manning on their ESPN2 feed of the Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.

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65.

David Letterman mocked Bill Belichick after he was caught on camera wiping his nose with his shirt and was in the middle of recalling being with Roger Goodell when Goodell was booed at the unveiling of Peyton Manning's statue in Indianapolis when ESPN suddenly cut to commercials.

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66.

On February 1, 2022, David Letterman was the guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers, marking the 40th anniversary of the franchise's debut.

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67.

David Letterman started his production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated, which produced his show and several others, in 1991.

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68.

David Letterman produces feature films and documentaries and founded its own record label, Clear Entertainment.

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69.

David Letterman Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming is a private foundation through which David Letterman has donated millions of dollars to charities and other nonprofit organizations in Indiana and Montana, celebrity-affiliated organizations such as Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Ball State University, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, and Medecins Sans Frontieres.

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70.

Comedians influenced by David Letterman include Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Ray Romano, Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno, Arsenio Hall, Larry Wilmore, Seth Meyers, Norm Macdonald, Jimmy Fallon, John Oliver, and James Corden.

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71.

David Letterman has said that he was initially unable to pinpoint the noise inside his head and that he hears a constant ringing in his ears.

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72.

In 2015, David 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.

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73.

David 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".

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74.

David Letterman favorably recalled the care he received at Rhode Island Hospital in a video released by the hospital's owner.

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75.

On July 2, 1968, David Letterman married his college sweetheart, Michelle Cook, in Muncie, Indiana; they divorced by October 1977.

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76.

David Letterman had a long-term cohabiting relationship with the former head writer and producer on Late Night, Merrill Markoe, from 1978 to 1988.

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77.

David Letterman told the audience he nearly missed the ceremony because his truck became stuck in mud two miles from their house.

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78.

David Letterman 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 $2 million.

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79.

David 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 the extortionist.

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80.

David Letterman 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.

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81.

On October 3, 2009, a former CBS employee, Holly Hester, announced that she and David Letterman had engaged in a yearlong secret affair in the early 1990s while she was his intern and a student at New York University.

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82.

On October 5, 2009, David Letterman devoted a segment of his show to a public apology to his wife and staff.

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83.

David Letterman's stole his Porsche, camped out on his tennis court, and repeatedly broke into his house.

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84.

David Letterman's claimed he had sent her coded messages via his television program, causing her bankruptcy and emotional distress.

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85.

David Letterman is a car enthusiast and owns an extensive collection.

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86.

David Letterman stated: "This is the second song of theirs that will always have great, great meaning for me for the rest of my life".

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87.

On September 7, 2007, David Letterman visited his alma mater, Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, for the dedication of a communications facility named in his honor for his dedication to the university.

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88.

David Letterman won four American Comedy Awards and in 2011 became the first recipient of the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence at The Comedy Awards.

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89.

David Letterman was a recipient of the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, where he was called "one of the most influential personalities in the history of television, entertaining an entire generation of late-night viewers with his unconventional wit and charm.

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90.

David Letterman received the prize in a ceremony on October 22, 2017.

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