Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
David Letterman

David Letterman

Overview
David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an American
People of the United States
The people of the United States, also known as simply Americans or American people, are the inhabitants or citizens of the United States. The United States is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds...

 television host and comedian
Comedian
A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh. This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting a fool, as in slapstick, or employing prop comedy...

. He hosts the late night television
Late night television
Late night television in the United States is the block of television programming airing after 11:00 pm and usually through 2:00 am. Traditionally, this type of programming airs after the late local news and is most notable for being the daypart used for a particular genre of programming that falls...

 talk show
Talk show
A talk show or chat show is a television program or radio program where one person discuss various topics put forth by a talk show host....

, Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman is a U.S. late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and is produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. The show's music director and band-leader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, is...

, broadcast on CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman
Late Night with David Letterman
Late Night with David Letterman is a nightly hour-long comedy talk show on NBC that was created and hosted by David Letterman. It premiered in 1982 as the first incarnation of the Late Night franchise and went off the air in 1993, after Letterman left NBC and moved to Late Show on CBS. Late Night...

on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

. Only Letterman's friend and mentor Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host and comedian, known as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years . Carson received six Emmy Awards including the Governor Award and a 1985 Peabody Award; he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987...

 had a longer late-night hosting career in the United States.

Letterman is also a television and film producer. His company Worldwide Pants produces his show as well as its network follow-up The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson is a Peabody Award-winning American late-night talk show hosted by Scottish American comedian Craig Ferguson. Ferguson, the third regular host of the Late Late Show franchise, follows Late Show with David Letterman in the CBS late-night lineup...

.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'David Letterman'
Start a new discussion about 'David Letterman'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Quotations

Nothing, believe me, nothing is more satisfying to me personally than getting a great idea and then beatin' it to death.

Late Night with David Letterman|Late Night with David Letterman (5 March 1993)

We're told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervour.. religious fervour and if you live to be a thousand years old will that make any sense to you? Will that make any goddamn sense?

During his first show after the September 11 attacks|September 11th attacks (17 September 2001)

In My Pants!

The Wahoo Gazette (30 October 2002)

Now all of us can talk to the National Security Agency|NSA — just by dialing any number.

On the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program, on The Late Show with David Letterman|The Late Show with David Letterman, Monologue (25 January 2006)

Nice job… What the hell is U2 supposed to play?

To Paul Shaffer|Paul Shaffer, after the CBS Orchestra played "Pride (In the Name of Love)|Pride (In the Name of Love)", The Late Show with David Letterman|The Late Show with David Letterman (5 March 2009), during U2's week-long guest appearance.
Encyclopedia
David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an American
People of the United States
The people of the United States, also known as simply Americans or American people, are the inhabitants or citizens of the United States. The United States is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds...

 television host and comedian
Comedian
A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh. This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting a fool, as in slapstick, or employing prop comedy...

. He hosts the late night television
Late night television
Late night television in the United States is the block of television programming airing after 11:00 pm and usually through 2:00 am. Traditionally, this type of programming airs after the late local news and is most notable for being the daypart used for a particular genre of programming that falls...

 talk show
Talk show
A talk show or chat show is a television program or radio program where one person discuss various topics put forth by a talk show host....

, Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman is a U.S. late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and is produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. The show's music director and band-leader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, is...

, broadcast on CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

. Letterman has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman
Late Night with David Letterman
Late Night with David Letterman is a nightly hour-long comedy talk show on NBC that was created and hosted by David Letterman. It premiered in 1982 as the first incarnation of the Late Night franchise and went off the air in 1993, after Letterman left NBC and moved to Late Show on CBS. Late Night...

on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

. Only Letterman's friend and mentor Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host and comedian, known as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years . Carson received six Emmy Awards including the Governor Award and a 1985 Peabody Award; he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987...

 had a longer late-night hosting career in the United States.

Letterman is also a television and film producer. His company Worldwide Pants produces his show as well as its network follow-up The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson is a Peabody Award-winning American late-night talk show hosted by Scottish American comedian Craig Ferguson. Ferguson, the third regular host of the Late Late Show franchise, follows Late Show with David Letterman in the CBS late-night lineup...

. Worldwide Pants has also produced several prime-time comedies, the most successful of which was Everybody Loves Raymond
Everybody Loves Raymond
Everybody Loves Raymond is an American television sitcom that originally ran on CBS from September 13, 1996, to May 16, 2005. Many of the situations from the show are based on the real-life experiences of lead actor Ray Romano, creator/producer Phil Rosenthal and the show's writing staff...

, currently in syndication.

In 1996, David Letterman was ranked #45 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.

Early life and career


Letterman was born in Indianapolis
Indianapolis
Indianapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Indiana, and the county seat of Marion County, Indiana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population is 839,489. It is by far Indiana's largest city and, as of the 2010 U.S...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

. His father, Harry Joseph Letterman (April 1915 – February 1973), was a florist of British
British American
British Americans are citizens of the United States whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in the United Kingdom . The term is seldom used by people to refer to themselves and is used primarily as a demographic or historical research term...

 descent; his mother Dorothy Letterman
Dorothy Mengering
Dorothy Marie Mengering , better known to Late Show viewers as Dave's Mom, is the mother of late-night talk show host David Letterman and frequent guest on his show....

 (née Hofert, now Dorothy Mengering), a Presbyterian
Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism refers to a number of Christian churches adhering to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism, which are organized according to a characteristic Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures,...

 church secretary of German
German American
German Americans are citizens of the United States of German ancestry and comprise about 51 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group...

 descent, is an occasional figure on the show, usually at holidays and birthdays.

Letterman lived on the north side of Indianapolis (Broad Ripple area), not far from Speedway, IN, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, located in Speedway, Indiana in the United States, is the home of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and the Brickyard 400....

, and he enjoyed collecting model cars, including racers. In 2000, he told an interviewer for Esquire
Esquire (magazine)
Esquire is a men's magazine, published in the U.S. by the Hearst Corporation. Founded in 1932, it flourished during the Great Depression under the guidance of founder and editor Arnold Gingrich.-History:...

that, while growing up, he admired his father's ability to tell jokes and be the life of the party. Harry Joseph Letterman survived a heart attack at age 36, when David was a young boy. The fear of losing his father was constantly with Letterman as he grew up. The elder Letterman died of a second heart attack at age 57.

Letterman attended his hometown's Broad Ripple High School
Broad Ripple High School
Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts & Humanities, established in 1886, is a magnet school of the Indianapolis Public Schools.-History:...

 at the same time as Marilyn Tucker Quayle (wife of the former Vice President) and worked as a stock boy at the local Atlas supermarket. According to the Ball State Daily News, he originally had wanted to attend Indiana University
Indiana University
Indiana University is a multi-campus public university system in the state of Indiana, United States. Indiana University has a combined student body of more than 100,000 students, including approximately 42,000 students enrolled at the Indiana University Bloomington campus and approximately 37,000...

, but his grades
Grade (education)
Grades are standardized measurements of varying levels of comprehension within a subject area. Grades can be assigned in letters , as a range , as a number out of a possible total , as descriptors , in percentages, or, as is common in some post-secondary...

 weren't good enough, so he decided to attend Ball State University
Ball State University
Ball State University is a state-run research university located in Muncie, Indiana. It is also known as Ball State or simply BSU.Located on the northwest side of the city, Ball State's campus spans and includes 106 buildings...

, in Muncie, Indiana
Muncie, Indiana
Muncie is a city in Center Township, Delaware County in east central Indiana, best known as the home of Ball State University and the birthplace of the Ball Corporation. It is the principal city of the Muncie, Indiana, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 118,769...

. He is a member of the Sigma Chi
Sigma Chi
Sigma Chi is the largest and one of the oldest college Greek-letter secret and social fraternities in North America with 244 active chapters and more than . Sigma Chi was founded on June 28, 1855 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio when members split from Delta Kappa Epsilon...

 Fraternity, and he graduated from what was then the Department of Radio and Television, in 1969. A self-described average student, Letterman endowed a scholarship for what he called "C students" at Ball State.

Though he registered for the draft and passed his physical after graduating from college, he was not drafted for service in Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 due to receiving a draft lottery number of 352 (out of 365).

Letterman began his broadcasting career as an announcer and newscaster at the college
College
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...

's student-run radio station
Radio station
Radio broadcasting is a one-way wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both...

WBST
WBST
WBST , is a National Public Radio-affiliated station in Muncie, Indiana. Studios and offices are located at Ball State University. WBST serves as the flagship station for Indiana Public Radio, which can be heard on four other stations in East-Central Indiana.Programming mainly consists of news &...

—a 10-watt campus station which now is part of Indiana Public Radio. He was fired for treating classical music
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

 with irreverence.

Letterman then became involved with the founding of another campus station—WAGO-AM 570 (now WWHI
WWHI
WWHI is a non-commercial radio station operated by students of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. The station is branded as WCRD ""The Broken Wing of College Radio", a reference to Cardinal Radio Dave, after alumnus and founder David Letterman, and now stands for "College Radio on Demand"...

, 91.3).

Letterman credits Paul Dixon—host of the Paul Dixon Show
Paul Dixon Show
The Paul Dixon Show was an American television variety program originating in Cincinnati on WLWT Television beginning in 1955 and ending in January 1975, one month after Dixon's death in December 1974...

, a Cincinnati-based talk show also shown in Indianapolis while Letterman was growing up—for inspiring his choice of career:
"I was just out of college [in 1969], and I really didn't know what I wanted to do. And then all of a sudden I saw him doing it [on TV]. And I thought: That's really what I want to do!"

Weatherman


Letterman began his career as a radio talk show host on WNTS (AM), and on Indianapolis television station WLWI (now called WTHR
WTHR
WTHR, channel 13, is a full-service television station serving the Indianapolis, Indiana metropolitan area. An affiliate of the NBC television network, its studios at 1000 N. Meridian Street anchor the south end of Indy's Television Row...

) as a local anchor and weatherman. He received some attention for his unpredictable on-air behavior, which included congratulating a tropical storm for being upgraded to a hurricane
Tropical cyclone
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

 and predicting hail
Hail
Hail is a form of solid precipitation. It consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, each of which is referred to as a hail stone. Hail stones on Earth consist mostly of water ice and measure between and in diameter, with the larger stones coming from severe thunderstorms...

 stones "the size of canned hams." He would also occasionally report the weather and the day's very high and low temps for fictitious cities ("Eight inches of snow in Bingree and surrounding areas.") while on another occasion saying that a state border had been erased. ("From space you can see the border between Indiana and Ohio has been erased. I'm not in favor of this.") He also starred in a local kiddie show, made wisecracks as host of a late night TV show called "Freeze-Dried Movies" (he once acted out a scene from "Godzilla" using plastic dinosaurs), and hosted a talk show that aired early on Saturday mornings called "Clover Power," in which he interviewed 4-H
4-H
4-H in the United States is a youth organization administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture , with the mission of "engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development." The name represents...

 members about their projects.

In 1971, Letterman appeared as a pit road reporter for ABC Sports' tape-delayed coverage of the Indianapolis 500
1971 Indianapolis 500
The 1971 Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 1971. ABC television broadcast the race for the first time in same-day tape delay....

. David is initially introduced as Chris Economaki in his job as a corner reporter. He interviews Mario Andretti who has just crashed out of the race and asks him a question about traffic on the course.

Move to Los Angeles


In 1975, encouraged by his then-wife Michelle and several of his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers, Letterman moved to Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, with hope of becoming a comedy writer. He started off by writing material for comedian Jimmie Walker
Jimmie Walker
James Carter "Jimmie" Walker is an American actor and stand-up comedian, known for portraying J. J. Evans on the television series Good Times, which ran from 1974 to 1979...

. He also began performing stand-up comedy
Stand-up comedy
Stand-up comedy is a comedic art form. Usually, a comedian performs in front of a live audience, speaking directly to them. Their performances are sometimes filmed for later release via DVD, the internet, and television...

 at The Comedy Store
The Comedy Store
The Comedy Store is a comedy club located in West Hollywood, California, at 8433 Sunset Boulevard on the Sunset Strip. It has a sister comedy club in La Jolla, San Diego, California.-History:...

, a proving ground for unknown comics.

Letterman appeared in the summer of 1977 on the short-lived Starland Vocal Band
Starland Vocal Band
Starland Vocal Band were an American pop band, known primarily for "Afternoon Delight", one of the biggest-selling singles in 1976.-Career:The group began as 'Fat City', a husband/wife duo of Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert. The band was also composed of Jon Carroll and Margot Chapman...

 Show
. He has since joked about how fortunate he was that nobody would ever see his performance on the program (due to its low ratings).

Letterman had a stint as a cast member on Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore is an American actress, primarily known for her roles in television sitcoms. Moore is best known for The Mary Tyler Moore Show , in which she starred as Mary Richards, a 30-something single woman who worked as a local news producer in Minneapolis, and for her earlier role as...

's variety show, Mary; a guest appearance on Mork & Mindy (as a parody of EST
Erhard Seminars Training
Erhard Seminars Training, an organization founded by Werner H. Erhard, offered a two-weekend course known officially as "The est Standard Training"...

 leader Werner Erhard
Werner Erhard
Werner Hans Erhard is an author of transformational models and applications for individuals, groups, and organizations...

); and appearances on game show
Game show
A game show is a type of radio or television program in which members of the public, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes...

s such as The $20,000 Pyramid, The Gong Show
The Gong Show
The Gong Show is an amateur talent contest franchised by Sony Pictures Television to many countries. It was broadcast on NBC's daytime schedule from June 14, 1976 through July 21, 1978, and in first-run syndication from 1976–1980 and 1988–1989. The show was produced by Chuck Barris, who also served...

, Password Plus and Liar's Club
Liar's Club
Liar's Club is an American comedy game show, produced by Ralph Andrews that had three syndicated runs. It was first seen in 1969 with Rod Serling as host, and returned for a three-season run from 1976-1979...

. He also hosted a 1977 pilot for a game show entitled The Riddlers that was never picked up. He was also screen test
Screen test
A screen test is a method of determining the suitability of an actor or actress for performing on film and/or in a particular role. The performer is generally given a scene, or selected lines and actions, and instructed to perform in front of a camera to see if they are suitable...

ed for the lead role in Airplane!
Airplane!
Airplane! is a 1980 American satirical comedy film directed and written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker and released by Paramount Pictures...

, a role that eventually went to Robert Hays
Robert Hays
Robert Hays is an American actor and is arguably most well known for his role in the movie Airplane!-Life and career:...

.

His dry, sarcastic humor caught the attention of scouts for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is a talk show hosted by Johnny Carson under the Tonight Show franchise from 1962 to 1992. It originally aired during late-night....

, and Letterman was soon a regular guest on the show. Letterman became a favorite of Carson's and was a regular guest host for the show beginning in 1978. Letterman credits Carson as the person who influenced his career the most.

NBC



Morning show



On June 23, 1980, Letterman was given his own morning comedy show on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

, The David Letterman Show
The David Letterman Show
The David Letterman Show was a live morning NBC talk show hosted by David Letterman from June 23 to October 24, 1980. The show originally ran for 90 minutes, then 60 minutes from August 4 onward.-Background:...

. It was originally 90 minutes long, but was shortened to 60 minutes in August 1980. The show was a critical success, winning two Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

s, but was a ratings disappointment and was canceled in October 1980.

Late Night with David Letterman



NBC kept Letterman under contract to try him in a different time slot. Late Night with David Letterman
Late Night with David Letterman
Late Night with David Letterman is a nightly hour-long comedy talk show on NBC that was created and hosted by David Letterman. It premiered in 1982 as the first incarnation of the Late Night franchise and went off the air in 1993, after Letterman left NBC and moved to Late Show on CBS. Late Night...

debuted February 1, 1982; the first guest on the first show was Bill Murray
Bill Murray
William James "Bill" Murray is an American actor and comedian. He first gained national exposure on Saturday Night Live in which he earned an Emmy Award and later went on to star in a number of critically and commercially successful comedic films, including Caddyshack , Ghostbusters , and...

. The show ran Monday through Thursday at 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time
Eastern Time Zone
The Eastern Time Zone of the United States and Canada is a time zone that falls mostly along the east coast of North America. Its UTC time offset is −5 hrs during standard time and −4 hrs during daylight saving time...

, immediately following The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is a talk show hosted by Johnny Carson under the Tonight Show franchise from 1962 to 1992. It originally aired during late-night....

(a Friday night broadcast was added in June 1987 when Friday Night Videos
Friday Night Videos
Friday Night Videos is an American music video show broadcast on the NBC television network from July 29, 1983 to December 30, 2000, and was the network's attempt to capitalize on the emerging popularity of music videos as seen on MTV...

 ended). It was seen as being edgy and unpredictable, and soon developed a cult following (particularly among college students). Letterman's reputation as an acerbic interviewer was borne out in verbal sparring matches with Cher
Cher
Cher is an American recording artist, television personality, actress, director, record producer and philanthropist. Referred to as the Goddess of Pop, she has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globes and a Cannes Film Festival Award among others for her work in...

 (who even called him an asshole on the show), Shirley MacLaine
Shirley MacLaine
Shirley MacLaine is an American film and theater actress, singer, dancer, activist and author, well-known for her beliefs in new age spirituality and reincarnation. She has written a large number of autobiographical works, many dealing with her spiritual beliefs as well as her Hollywood career...

, Charles Grodin
Charles Grodin
Charles Grodin is an American actor, comedian, author and former cable talk show host. Grodin began his acting career in the 1960s appearing in TV serials including The Virginian. He had a small part as an obstetrician in Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby in 1968...

, and Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

. The show also featured comedy segments and running characters, in a style heavily influenced by the 1950s and '60s programs of Steve Allen
Steve Allen
Steve Allen may refer to:*Steve Allen , American musician, comedian, and writer*Steve Allen , presenter on the London-based talk radio station LBC 97.3...

. Although Ernie Kovacs
Ernie Kovacs
Ernie Kovacs was a Hungarian American comedian and actor.Kovacs' uninhibited, often ad-libbed, and visually experimental comedic style came to influence numerous television comedy programs for years after his death in an automobile accident...

 is often cited as an influence on the show, Letterman has denied this.

The show often featured quirky, genre-mocking regular features, including "Stupid Pet Tricks
Stupid Pet Tricks
"Stupid Pet Tricks", and, subsequently, "Stupid Human Tricks", are well-known segments on Late Night with David Letterman, and, later, The Late Show with David Letterman....

", dropping various objects off the roof of a five-story building, demonstrations of unorthodox clothing (such as suits made of Alka-Seltzer
Alka-Seltzer
Alka-Seltzer is an effervescent antacid and pain reliever first marketed by the Dr. Miles Medicine Company. It was developed by Treneer in Elkhart Indiana. Alka-Seltzer is marketed for relief of minor aches, pains, inflammation, fever, headache, heartburn, sour stomach, indigestion, and hangovers,...

, Velcro
Velcro
Velcro is the brand name of the first commercially marketed fabric hook-and-loop fastener, invented in 1948 by the Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral...

 and suet
Suet
Suet is raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys.Suet has a melting point of between 45° and 50°C and congelation between 37° and 40°C....

), a recurring Top 10 list, the Monkey-Cam (and the Audience Cam), and a facetious letter-answering segment. The Top 10 list, several "Film[s] by My Dog Bob" in which a camera was mounted on Letterman's own dog (often with comic results), Stupid Human Tricks, Small Town News, and Stupid Pet Tricks (which had its origins on Letterman's morning show) all eventually moved with Letterman to CBS.

Other memorable moments included Letterman using a bullhorn to interrupt a live interview on The Today Show, announcing that he was the NBC president while not wearing any pants; interrupting Al Roker
Al Roker
Albert Lincoln "Al" Roker, Jr. is an American television meteorologist as well as an actor and book author. He is best known as being the weather anchor on NBC's Today. On Monday, July 20, 2009, he began co-hosting his new morning show, Wake Up with Al, on The Weather Channel, which airs weekdays...

 on WNBC-TV's broadcast of Live at Five
Live at Five
Live at Five is a name used by several television stations in some countries to refer to their 5:00pm newscasts or talk shows.* The name was coined by WNBC-TV in New York City in 1980 for a lifestyle and celebrity news show...

by walking into their studio (which occupied the same floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza
GE Building
The GE Building is an Art Deco skyscraper that forms the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center in the midtown Manhattan section of New York City. Known as the RCA Building until 1988, it is most famous for housing the headquarters of the television network NBC...

 as Letterman's studio); and staging "elevator races", complete with commentary by NBC Sports' Bob Costas
Bob Costas
Robert Quinlan "Bob" Costas is an American sportscaster, on the air for the NBC network since the early 1980s.-Early life:...

. In one infamous appearance, in 1982, Andy Kaufman
Andy Kaufman
Andrew Geoffrey "Andy" Kaufman was an American entertainer, actor and performance artist. While often referred to as a comedian, Kaufman did not consider himself one...

 (who was already wearing a neck brace) appeared to be slapped and knocked to the ground by professional wrestler Jerry Lawler
Jerry Lawler
Jerry O'Neil Lawler is an American professional wrestler, wrestling commentator, musician, businessman, commercial artist and film actor, known throughout the wrestling world as Jerry "The King" Lawler. He is currently signed to WWE, working on its Raw brand as the color commentator and occasional...

 (though Lawler and Kaufman's friend Bob Zmuda
Bob Zmuda
Bob Zmuda is an American writer, comedian, producer and director best known as the sidekick, co-writer and friend of cult personality Andy Kaufman....

 later revealed that the event was staged.) In another memorable exchange, sex expert Dr. Ruth Westheimer included cucumbers in a list of handy sex objects that women could find at home. The following night, guest Ted Koppel asked Letterman "May I insert something here?" and Dave responded "OK, as long as it's not a cucumber."

Late Show with David Letterman




In 1992, Johnny Carson retired, and many fans believed that Letterman would become host of The Tonight Show. When NBC instead gave the job to Jay Leno
Jay Leno
James Douglas Muir "Jay" Leno is an American stand-up comedian and television host.From 1992 to 2009, Leno was the host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Beginning in September 2009, Leno started a primetime talk show, titled The Jay Leno Show, which aired weeknights at 10:00 p.m. ,...

, Letterman departed NBC to host his own late-night show on CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

, opposite The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show is an American late-night talk show that has aired on NBC since 1954. It is the longest currently running regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States, and the third longest-running show on NBC, after Meet the Press and Today.The Tonight Show has been hosted by...

at 11:30 p.m., called the Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman is a U.S. late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and is produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. The show's music director and band-leader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, is...

. The new show debuted on August 30, 1993 and was taped at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater
Ed Sullivan Theater
The Ed Sullivan Theater, located at 1697-1699 Broadway between West 53rd and West 54th, in Manhattan, is a venerable radio and television studio in New York City...

, where Ed Sullivan
Ed Sullivan
Edward Vincent "Ed" Sullivan was an American entertainment writer and television host, best known as the presenter of the TV variety show The Ed Sullivan Show. The show was broadcast from 1948 to 1971 , which made it one of the longest-running variety shows in U.S...

 taped his eponymous variety series
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show is an American TV variety show that originally ran on CBS from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan....

 from 1948 to 1971. For Letterman's arrival, CBS spent $14 million in renovations. In addition to that cost, CBS also signed Letterman to a lucrative three-year, $14 million/year contract, doubling his Late Night salary. The total cost for everything (renovations, negotiation right paid to NBC, signing Letterman, announcer Bill Wendell
Bill Wendell
Bill Wendell was an NBC television staff announcer for almost his entire professional career.-Biography:...

, Shaffer, the writers and the band) was over $140 million.

But while the expectation was that Letterman would retain his unique style and sense of humor with the move, Late Show was not an exact replica of his old NBC program. Recognizing the more formal mood (and wider audience) of his new time slot and studio, Letterman eschewed his trademark blazer
Blazer
A blazer is a type of jacket. The term blazer occasionally is synonymous with boating jacket and sports jacket, two different garments. A blazer resembles a suit coat cut more casually — sometimes with flap-less patch pockets and metal buttons. A blazer's cloth is usually durable , because it is an...

 with khaki
Khaki
This article is about the fabric. For the color, see Khaki . Kaki, another name for the persimmon, is often misspelled "Khaki".Khaki is a type of fabric or the color of such fabric...

 pants and white sneakers wardrobe combination in favor of expensive shoes and tailored suits. The monologue was lengthened and Paul Shaffer
Paul Shaffer
Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CM is a Canadian musician, actor, voice actor, author, comedian, and composer who has been David Letterman's sidekick since 1982.-Early years:...

 and the "World's Most Dangerous Band" followed Letterman to CBS, but they added a brass section and were rebranded the "CBS Orchestra
CBS Orchestra
The CBS Orchestra is the house band, led by Paul Shaffer, that plays for David Letterman's CBS late-night talk show, Late Show with David Letterman...

" as a short monologue and a small band were mandated by Carson while Letterman occupied the 12:30 slot. Additionally, because of intellectual property
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 disagreements, Letterman was unable to import many of his Late Night segments verbatim, but he sidestepped this problem by simply renaming them (the "Top Ten List" became the "Late Show Top Ten", "Viewer Mail" became the "CBS Mailbag", etc.)

Popularity


The main competitor of The Late Show is NBC's The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show is an American late-night talk show that has aired on NBC since 1954. It is the longest currently running regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States, and the third longest-running show on NBC, after Meet the Press and Today.The Tonight Show has been hosted by...

, which was hosted by Jay Leno
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jay Leno that initially aired from May 25, 1992 to May 29, 2009, and resumed production on March 1, 2010. The fourth incarnation of the Tonight Show franchise made its debut on May 25, 1992, three days following Johnny...

 for nearly 16 years, but from June 1, 2009, to January 22, 2010, was hosted
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien is an American late-night talk show that featured Conan O'Brien as host from June 1, 2009 to January 22, 2010 as part of NBC's long-running Tonight Show franchise...

 by Conan O'Brien
Conan O'Brien
Conan Christopher O'Brien is an American television host, comedian, writer, producer and performer. Since November 2010 he has hosted Conan, a late-night talk show that airs on the American cable television station TBS....

. In 1993 and 1994, The Late Show consistently gained higher ratings than Tonight. But in 1995, ratings dipped and Leno's show consistently beat Letterman's in the ratings; Leno typically attracted about 5 million nightly viewers between 1999 and 2009. The Late Show lost nearly half its audience during its competition with Leno, attracting 7.1 million viewers nightly in its 1993–94 season and about 3.8 million per night as of Leno's departure in 2009. In the final months of his first stint as host of The Tonight Show, Leno beat Letterman in the ratings by a 1.3 million viewer margin (5.2 million to 3.9 million), and Nightline and The Late Show were virtually tied. Once O'Brien took over Tonight, however, Letterman closed the gap in the ratings. O'Brien initially drove the median age of Tonight Show viewers from 55 to 45, with most older viewers opting to watch The Late Show instead.

Following Leno's return to The Tonight Show, however, Leno has regained his lead.

Letterman's shows have garnered both critical and industry praise, receiving 67 Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 nominations, winning 12 times in his first 20 years in late night television. From 1993–2009, Letterman ranked higher than Leno in the annual Harris Poll
Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive , headquartered in New York, New York, is a custom market research firm, known for the Harris Poll. Harris works in a wide range of industries...

 of Nation's Favorite TV Personality 12 times. For example, in 2003 and 2004 Letterman ranked second in that poll, behind only Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011...

, a year that Leno was ranked fifth. Leno was higher than Letterman on that poll three times during the same period, in 1998, 2007, and 2008.

Hosting the Academy Awards


On March 27, 1995, Letterman acted as the host for the 67th Academy Awards
67th Academy Awards
The 67th Academy Awards, honoring the best films of 1994, were held on March 27, 1995 at the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California. They were hosted by well-known comedian and talk show host David Letterman....

 ceremony. Critics blasted Letterman for what they deemed a poor hosting of the Oscars, noting that his irreverent style undermined the traditional importance and glamor of the event. In a joke about their unusual names (inspired by a similar joke by Woody Allen), he started off by introducing Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman
Uma Karuna Thurman is an American actress and model. She has performed in leading roles in a variety of films, ranging from romantic comedies and dramas to science fiction and action movies. Among her best-known roles are those in the Quentin Tarantino films Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill...

 to Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011...

, and then the both of them to Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves
Keanu Charles Reeves is a Canadian actor. Reeves is perhaps best known for his roles in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Speed, Point Break and the science fiction-action trilogy The Matrix...

: "Oprah...Uma. Uma...Oprah," "Have you kids met Keanu?" This and many of his other jokes fell flat. Although Letterman attracted the highest ratings to the annual telecast since 1983, many felt that the bad publicity garnered by Letterman's hosting caused a decline in the Late Shows ratings.

Letterman recycled the apparent debacle into a long-running gag. On his first show after the Oscars, he joked, "Looking back, I had no idea that thing was being televised." He lampooned his stint two years later, during Billy Crystal
Billy Crystal
William Edward "Billy" Crystal is an American actor, writer, producer, comedian and film director. He gained prominence in the 1970s for playing Jodie Dallas on the ABC sitcom Soap and became a Hollywood film star during the late 1980s and 1990s, appearing in the critical and box office successes...

's opening Oscar skit, which also parodied the plane-crashing scenes from that year's chief nominated film,
The English Patient
The English Patient (film)
The English Patient is a 1996 romantic drama film based on the novel of the same name by Sri Lankan-Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje. The film, written for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella, won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture...

.

For years afterward, Letterman recounted his hosting the Oscars, although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures...

 continued to hold Letterman in high regard and it was rumored in 2008 that they had asked him to host the Oscars again. On September 7, 2010, he made an appearance on the premiere of the 14th season of
The View, and confirmed that he had been considered for hosting again.

Heart surgery hiatus


On January 14, 2000, a routine check-up revealed that an artery in Letterman's heart was severely obstructed. He was rushed to emergency surgery for a quintuple bypass
Coronary artery bypass surgery
Coronary artery bypass surgery, also coronary artery bypass graft surgery, and colloquially heart bypass or bypass surgery is a surgical procedure performed to relieve angina and reduce the risk of death from coronary artery disease...

.

During the initial weeks of his recovery, reruns of the
Late Show were shown and introduced by friends of Letterman including Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore
Drew Blyth Barrymore is an American actress, film director, screenwriter, producer and model. She is a member of the Barrymore family of American actors and granddaughter of John Barrymore. She first appeared in an advertisement when she was 11 months old. Barrymore made her film debut in Altered...

, Ray Romano
Ray Romano
Raymond Albert "Ray" Romano is an American actor, writer and stand-up comedian, best known for his roles on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond and in the Ice Age film series. He recently starred in the TNT comedy-drama Men of a Certain Age.-Early life:Romano was born in Queens, New York to Italian...

, Robin Williams
Robin Williams
Robin McLaurin Williams is an American actor and comedian. Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork and Mindy, and later stand-up comedy work, Williams has performed in many feature films since 1980. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance...

, Bonnie Hunt
Bonnie Hunt
Bonnie Lynne Hunt is an American actress, comedian, writer, director, television producer and daytime television host.- Early life :...

, Megan Mullally
Megan Mullally
Megan Mullally is an American actress and singer.After working in the theatre in Chicago, Mullally moved to Los Angeles in 1985 and began to appear in supporting roles in film and television productions. She made her Broadway debut in Grease in 1994 and she has since appeared in several Broadway...

, Bill Murray
Bill Murray
William James "Bill" Murray is an American actor and comedian. He first gained national exposure on Saturday Night Live in which he earned an Emmy Award and later went on to star in a number of critically and commercially successful comedic films, including Caddyshack , Ghostbusters , and...

, Regis Philbin
Regis Philbin
Regis Francis Xavier Philbin is an American media personality, actor and singer, known for hosting talk and game shows since the 1960s. Philbin is often called "the hardest working man in show business" and holds the Guinness World Record for the most time spent in front of a television camera...

, Charles Grodin
Charles Grodin
Charles Grodin is an American actor, comedian, author and former cable talk show host. Grodin began his acting career in the 1960s appearing in TV serials including The Virginian. He had a small part as an obstetrician in Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby in 1968...

, Nathan Lane
Nathan Lane
Nathan Lane is an American actor of stage and screen. He is best known for his roles as Mendy in The Lisbon Traviata, Albert in The Birdcage, Max Bialystock in the musical The Producers, Ernie Smuntz in MouseHunt, Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to...

, Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts
Julia Fiona Roberts is an American actress. She became a Hollywood star after headlining the romantic comedy Pretty Woman , which grossed $464 million worldwide...

, Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis
Walter Bruce Willis , better known as Bruce Willis, is an American actor, producer, and musician. His career began in television in the 1980s and has continued both in television and film since, including comedic, dramatic, and action roles...

, Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld
Jerome Allen "Jerry" Seinfeld is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and television and film producer, known for playing a semi-fictional version of himself in the situation comedy Seinfeld , which he co-created and co-wrote with Larry David, and, in the show's final two seasons,...

, Martin Short
Martin Short
Martin Hayter Short, CM is a Canadian actor, comedian, writer, singer and producer. He is best-known for his comedy work, particularly on the TV programs SCTV and Saturday Night Live...

, Steven Seagal
Steven Seagal
Steven Frederic Seagal is an American action film star, producer, writer, martial artist, guitarist and reserve deputy sheriff. A 7th-dan black belt in Aikido, Seagal began his adult life as an Aikido instructor in Japan...

, Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

, Danny DeVito
Danny DeVito
Daniel Michael DeVito, Jr. , better known as Danny DeVito, is an American actor, comedian, director and producer. He first gained prominence for his portrayal of Louie De Palma on the ABC and NBC television series Taxi , for which he won a Golden Globe and an Emmy.DeVito and his wife, Rhea Perlman,...

, Steve Martin
Steve Martin
Stephen Glenn "Steve" Martin is an American actor, comedian, writer, playwright, producer, musician and composer....

, and Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker is an American film, television, and theater actress and producer.She is best known for her leading role as Carrie Bradshaw on the HBO television series Sex and the City , for which she won four Golden Globe Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, and two Emmy Awards...

.

Subsequently, while still recovering from surgery, Letterman revived the late night tradition that had virtually disappeared on network television during the 1990s of 'guest hosts' by allowing Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby
William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr. is an American comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician and activist. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at various clubs, then landed a starring role in the 1960s action show, I Spy. He later starred in his own series, the...

, Kathie Lee Gifford
Kathie Lee Gifford
Kathie Lee Gifford is an American television host, singer, songwriter and actress, best known for her 15-year run on the talk show Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, which she co-hosted with Regis Philbin...

 (recommended by Regis Philbin, who was asked first but had no time in his schedule), Dana Carvey
Dana Carvey
Dana Thomas Carvey is an American actor and stand-up comedian, best known for his work as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and for playing the role of Garth in the Wayne's World movies.-Early life:...

, Janeane Garofalo
Janeane Garofalo
Janeane Garofalo is an American stand-up comedian, actress, political activist and writer. She is the former co-host on the now defunct Air America Radio's The Majority Report. Garofalo continues to circulate regularly within New York City's local comedy and performance art scene.-Early...

, and others to host new episodes of The Late Show. Cosby—the show's first guest host—refused to sit at Letterman's desk out of respect, using the couch instead; Garofalo followed suit, utilizing a set of grade-school desks instead.

Upon his return to the show on February 21, 2000, Letterman brought all of the doctors and nurses on stage who had participated in his surgery and recovery (with extra teasing of a nurse who had given him bed baths—"This woman has seen me naked!"), including Dr. O. Wayne Isom and physician Louis Aronne
Louis Aronne
Louis J. Aronne, M.D. is an American physician and author who is an internationally recognized obesity specialist. He is widely relied upon and quoted in the news media as an expert in the field of weight research. He is perhaps most widely known for diagnosing David Letterman’s heart problem in 2000...

, who frequently appears on the show. In a show of emotion, Letterman was nearly in tears as he thanked the health care team with the words "These are the people who saved my life!" The episode earned an Emmy
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 nomination. For a number of episodes, Letterman continued to crack jokes about his bypass, including saying, "Bypass surgery: it's when doctors surgically create new blood flow to your heart. A bypass is what happened to me when I didn't get The Tonight Show! It's a whole different thing." In a later running gag he lobbied his home state of Indiana to rename the freeway circling Indianapolis (I-465) "The David Letterman Bypass." He also featured a montage of faux news coverage of his bypass surgery, which included a clip of Dave's heart for sale on the Home Shopping Network
Home Shopping Network
Home Shopping Network or HSN began in 1977 as a 24-hour/7 day a week home shopping television network televised via cable, satellite, and some terrestrial channels in the Philippines. HSN can also be shopped online at hsn.com...

. Letterman became friends with his doctors and nurses. In 2008, a
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

 interview stated "he hosted a doctor and nurse who'd helped perform the emergency quintuple-bypass heart surgery that saved his life in 2000. 'These are people who were complete strangers when they opened my chest,' he says. 'And now, eight years later, they're among my best friends.' "

Additionally, Letterman invited the band Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters is an American alternative rock band originally formed in 1994 by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl as a one-man project following the dissolution of his previous band. The band got its name from the UFOs and various aerial phenomena that were reported by Allied aircraft pilots in World War...

 to play "Everlong
Everlong
"Everlong" is the second single released from the Foo Fighters' second album The Colour and the Shape, released in 1997. The song was conceived when Dave Grohl returned home to Washington, DC following the initial recording sessions for the album...

", introducing them as "my favorite band, playing my favorite song." During a later Foo Fighters appearance, Letterman said that Foo Fighters had been in the middle of a South American tour which they canceled to come play on his comeback episode.

Letterman again handed over the reins of the show to several guest hosts (including Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby
William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr. is an American comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician and activist. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at various clubs, then landed a starring role in the 1960s action show, I Spy. He later starred in his own series, the...

, Brad Garrett
Brad Garrett
Bradley "Brad" Garrett is an American actor, voice actor, stand-up comedian, and professional poker player. Throughout he has appeared in numerous television and film roles....

, Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello , born Declan Patrick MacManus, is an English singer-songwriter. He came to prominence as an early participant in London's pub rock scene in the mid-1970s and later became associated with the punk/New Wave genre. Steeped in word play, the vocabulary of Costello's lyrics is broader...

, John McEnroe
John McEnroe
John Patrick McEnroe, Jr. is a former world no. 1 professional tennis player from the United States. During his career, he won seven Grand Slam singles titles , nine Grand Slam men's doubles titles, and one Grand Slam mixed doubles title...

, Vince Vaughn
Vince Vaughn
Vincent Anthony "Vince" Vaughn is an American film actor, screenwriter, producer and comedian. He began acting in the late 1980s, appearing in minor television roles before attaining wider recognition with the 1996 movie Swingers...

, Will Ferrell
Will Ferrell
John William "Will" Ferrell is an American comedian, impressionist, actor, and writer. Ferrell first established himself in the late 1990s as a cast member on the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, and has subsequently starred in the comedy films Old School, Elf, Anchorman, Talladega...

, Bonnie Hunt
Bonnie Hunt
Bonnie Lynne Hunt is an American actress, comedian, writer, director, television producer and daytime television host.- Early life :...

, Luke Wilson
Luke Wilson
Luke Cunningham Wilson is an American film actor known for his roles in Old School, Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, Legally Blonde, Idiocracy and Death at a Funeral.-Early life:...

 and bandleader Paul Shaffer
Paul Shaffer
Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CM is a Canadian musician, actor, voice actor, author, comedian, and composer who has been David Letterman's sidekick since 1982.-Early years:...

) in February 2003, when he was diagnosed with a severe case of shingles
Herpes zoster
Herpes zoster , commonly known as shingles and also known as zona, is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a limited area on one side of the body, often in a stripe...

. Later that year, Letterman made regular use of guest hosts—including Tom Arnold
Tom Arnold (actor)
Thomas Dwaine "Tom" Arnold is an American actor and comedian. He has appeared in many films, perhaps most notably True Lies . He was the host of The Best Damn Sports Show Period for four years.-Early life:...

 and Kelsey Grammer
Kelsey Grammer
Allen Kelsey Grammer is an American actor and comedian. He is most widely known for his two-decade portrayal of psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane on the sitcoms Cheers and Frasier...

—for new shows broadcast on Fridays. In March 2007, Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler
Adam Richard Sandler is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, musician, and film producer.After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, Sandler went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over $100 million at the box office...

—who had been scheduled to be the lead guest—served as a guest host while Letterman was ill with a stomach virus.

Re-signing with CBS



In March 2002, as Letterman's contract with CBS neared expiration, ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 offered him the time slot for long-running news program Nightline with Ted Koppel
Ted Koppel
Edward James "Ted" Koppel is an English-born American broadcast journalist, best known as the anchor for Nightline from the program's inception in 1980 until his retirement in late 2005. After leaving Nightline, Koppel worked as managing editor for the Discovery Channel before resigning in 2008...

. Letterman was interested as he believed he could never match Leno's ratings at CBS due to Letterman's complaint of weaker lead-in
Lead-in
A lead-in is a short phrase, usually five words or less, that starts off a photo caption in a newspaper, high school yearbook, magazine or other publication.Lead-ins are used to catch the reader's attention and "lead in" to the main caption...

s from the network's late local news
11 o'clock news
The 11 o'clock news is a term used for news programs that are broadcast at 11:00 p.m. local time. This is the traditional hour for the late local news broadcast on CBS, NBC, and ABC affiliated stations in the United States that are in the Eastern Time Zone or the Pacific Time Zone.By contrast,...

 programs, but was reluctant to replace Koppel. 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.

On December 4, 2006, CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 revealed that Letterman signed a new contract to host The Late Show with David Letterman through the fall of 2010. "I'm thrilled to be continuing on at CBS," said Letterman. "At my age you really don't want to have to learn a new commute." Letterman further joked about the subject by pulling up his right pants leg, revealing a tattoo
Tattoo
A tattoo is made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. Tattoos on humans are a type of body modification, and tattoos on other animals are most commonly used for identification purposes...

, presumably temporary, of the ABC logo
Logo
A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition...

.

"Thirteen years ago, David Letterman put CBS late night on the map and in the process became one of the defining icons of our network," said Leslie Moonves
Leslie Moonves
Leslie Moonves is President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation.Moonves served as co-president and co-chief operating officer of Viacom, Inc., the predecessor to CBS Corporation, from 2004 until the company split on December 31, 2005...

, president and CEO of CBS Corporation. "His presence on our air is an ongoing source of pride, and the creativity and imagination that the Late Show puts forth every night is an ongoing display of the highest quality entertainment. We are truly honored that one of the most revered and talented entertainers of our time will continue to call CBS 'home.'"

According to a 2007 article in
Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

magazine, Letterman earned $40 million a year. A 2009 article in The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, however, said his salary was estimated at $32 million per year. In June 2009, Letterman's Worldwide Pants and CBS reached agreement to continue the Late Show until at least August 2012. The previous contract had been set to expire in 2010, and the two-year extension is shorter than the typical three-year contract period negotiated in the past. Worldwide Pants agreed to lower its fee for the show, though it had remained a "solid moneymaker for CBS" under the previous contract.

On the February 3, 2011 edition of the
Late Show
Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman is a U.S. late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and is produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. The show's music director and band-leader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, is...

, during an interview with Howard Stern
Howard Stern
Howard Allan Stern is an American radio personality, television host, author, and actor best known for his radio show, which was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2005. He gained wide recognition in the 1990s where he was labeled a "shock jock" for his outspoken and sometimes controversial style...

, Letterman said he would continue to do his talk show for "maybe two years, I think."

2007–2008 writers' strike


The Late Show went off air for eight weeks during the months of November and December because of the Writers Guild of America strike
2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike
The 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, more commonly referred to as simply the Writers' Strike, was a strike by the Writers Guild of America, East and the Writers Guild of America, West ....

. Letterman's production company—Worldwide Pants—was the first company to make an individual agreement with the WGA, thus allowing his show to come back on air on January 2, 2008. On his first episode since being off air, he surprised the viewing audience with his newly grown beard
Beard
A beard is the collection of hair that grows on the chin, cheeks and neck of human beings. Usually, only pubescent or adult males are able to grow beards. However, women with hirsutism may develop a beard...

, which signified solidarity with the strike. His beard was shaved off during the show on January 7, 2008.

Letterman and Carson


NBC's decision to select Jay Leno
Jay Leno
James Douglas Muir "Jay" Leno is an American stand-up comedian and television host.From 1992 to 2009, Leno was the host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Beginning in September 2009, Leno started a primetime talk show, titled The Jay Leno Show, which aired weeknights at 10:00 p.m. ,...

 and not Letterman to succeed Johnny Carson
Johnny Carson
John William "Johnny" Carson was an American television host and comedian, known as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years . Carson received six Emmy Awards including the Governor Award and a 1985 Peabody Award; he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987...

 as host of The Tonight Show was an embarrassment to Carson, who had all but promised the succession to Letterman. Letterman maintained a close relationship with Carson through his break with NBC. Three years after he left for CBS, HBO produced a made-for-television movie called The Late Shift
The Late Shift (film)
The Late Shift is a 1996 American TV movie produced by HBO. It is directed by Betty Thomas and based on the book of the same name by The New York Times media reporter Bill Carter.-Plot synopsis:...

, based on a book by New York Times reporter Bill Carter, chronicling the battle between Letterman and Leno for the coveted Tonight Show hosting spot. Letterman would mock the film for months afterward, specifically on how the actor playing him, John Michael Higgins
John Michael Higgins
John Michael Higgins is an American actor whose film credits include Christopher Guest's mockumentaries, the role of David Letterman in HBO's The Late Shift, and a starring role in the American version of Kath & Kim....

, did not resemble him in the least. ("They took a guy who looked nothing like me and with make-up and special camera angles, turned him into a guy who looked nothing like me, with red hair.")

Carson later made a few cameo appearances as a guest on Letterman's show. Carson's final television appearance came May 13, 1994 on a Late Show episode taped in Los Angeles, when he made a surprise appearance during a 'Top 10 list' segment. The audience went wild as Letterman stood up and proudly invited Carson to sit at his desk. The applause was so protracted that Carson was unable to say anything, and he finally returned backstage as the applause continued (it was later explained that Carson had laryngitis
Laryngitis
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx. It causes hoarse voice or the complete loss of the voice because of irritation to the vocal folds . Dysphonia is the medical term for a vocal disorder, of which laryngitis is one cause....

, though Carson can be heard talking to Letterman during his appearance).

In early 2005, it was revealed that Carson still kept up with current events and late-night TV right up to his death that year, and that he occasionally sent jokes to Letterman, who used these jokes in his monologue; according to CBS senior vice president Peter Lassally
Peter Lassally
Peter Lassally is a former Carson Productions executive who served as the executive producer of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Late Night with David Letterman, and the Late Show with David Letterman...

 (a onetime producer for both men), Carson got "a big kick out of it." Letterman would do a characteristic Johnny Carson golf swing after delivering one of Carson's jokes. In a tribute to Carson, all of the opening monologue jokes during the first show following Carson's death were written by Carson.

Lassally also claimed that Carson had always believed Letterman, not Leno, to be his "rightful successor." Letterman also frequently employs some of Carson's trademark bits on his show, including "Carnac the Magnificent
Carnac the Magnificent
Carnac the Magnificent was a recurring comedic role played by Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. One of Carson's most well known characters, Carnac was a "mystic from the east" who could psychically "divine" unseen answers to unknown questions...

" (with Paul Shaffer
Paul Shaffer
Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CM is a Canadian musician, actor, voice actor, author, comedian, and composer who has been David Letterman's sidekick since 1982.-Early years:...

 as Carnac), "Stump the Band" and the "Week in Review."

Letterman and Oprah Winfrey


On September 10, 2007, Letterman made his first appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Oprah Winfrey Show
The Oprah Winfrey Show is an American syndicated talk show hosted and produced by its namesake Oprah Winfrey. It ran nationally for 25 seasons beginning in 1986, before concluding in 2011. It is the highest-rated talk show in American television history....

at Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden, often abbreviated as MSG and known colloquially as The Garden, is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the New York City borough of Manhattan and located at 8th Avenue, between 31st and 33rd Streets, situated on top of Pennsylvania Station.Opened on February 11, 1968, it is the...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. He shared pictures of his son and live-in girlfriend. The so-called feud between Letterman and Winfrey apparently ended in 2005 when Winfrey appeared on CBS's
Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman
Late Show with David Letterman is a U.S. late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and is produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. The show's music director and band-leader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, is...

on December 2, in an event Letterman jokingly referred to as "the Super Bowl
Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League , the highest level of professional American football in the United States, culminating a season that begins in the late summer of the previous calendar year. The Super Bowl uses Roman numerals to identify each game, rather...

 of Love". Winfrey had previously appeared on Letterman's show when he was hosting NBC's
Late Night on May 2, 1989.

Winfrey and Letterman also appeared together in a Late Show promo that aired during CBS's coverage of Super Bowl XLI
Super Bowl XLI
Super Bowl XLI was an American football game that featured the American Football Conference champion Indianapolis Colts and the National Football Conference champion Chicago Bears to decide the National Football League champion for the 2006 season...

 in February 2007, with the two sitting next to each other on the couch watching the game. Since the game was played between the Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are a professional American football team based in Indianapolis. They are currently members of the South Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League ....

 and Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

, the Indianapolis-born Letterman wears a Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning
Peyton Williams Manning is an American football quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League . Manning holds the record for most NFL MVP awards with four. He was drafted by the Colts as the first overall pick in 1998 after a standout college football career with the...

 jersey, while Winfrey—who tapes her show in Chicago—is in a Brian Urlacher
Brian Urlacher
Brian Keith Urlacher is an American football player for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League . He attended the University of New Mexico, where he was one of the school's most decorated athletes. In addition to setting multiple university records, Urlacher earned consideration for the...

 jersey. Three years later, during CBS's coverage of Super Bowl XLIV
Super Bowl XLIV
Super Bowl XLIV was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Indianapolis Colts and the National Football Conference champion New Orleans Saints to decide the National Football League champion for the 2009 season. The Saints defeated the Colts by a score of...

, the two appeared again, this time with Winfrey sitting on a couch between Letterman and Jay Leno. The appearance was Letterman's idea: Leno flew to New York City in an NBC corporate jet, sneaking into the Ed Sullivan Theater during the Late Shows February 4 taping wearing a disguise, meeting Winfrey and Letterman at a living room set created in the theater's balcony where they taped their promo.

Response to Internet death threat


On August 17, 2011 it was reported that a Muslim militant had posted a death threat against Letterman on a website frequented by Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 supporters, calling on American Muslims to kill Letterman for making a joke about the death of an Al-Qaeda leader killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in June 2011. In his show on August 22, Letterman joked about the threat, saying "State Department authorities are looking into this. They're not taking this lightly. They’re looking into it. They're questioning, they're interrogating, there's an electronic trail — but everybody knows it's Leno
Jay Leno
James Douglas Muir "Jay" Leno is an American stand-up comedian and television host.From 1992 to 2009, Leno was the host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Beginning in September 2009, Leno started a primetime talk show, titled The Jay Leno Show, which aired weeknights at 10:00 p.m. ,...

."

Appearances in other media


Letterman appeared in issue 239 of the Marvel
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

 comic book The Avengers
Avengers (comics)
The Avengers is a fictional team of superheroes, appearing in magazines published by Marvel Comics. The team made its debut in The Avengers #1 The Avengers is a fictional team of superheroes, appearing in magazines published by Marvel Comics. The team made its debut in The Avengers #1 The Avengers...

, in which the title characters are guests on Late Night. A parody of Letterman, named "David Endochrine," is gassed to death along with his bandleader named "Paul" and their audience in Frank Miller
Frank Miller (comics)
Frank Miller is an American comic book artist, writer and film director best known for his dark, film noir-style comic book stories and graphic novels Ronin, Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City and 300...

's The Dark Knight Returns.

Letterman appeared in the pilot episode of the short-lived 1986 series "Coach Toast", and he appears with a bag over his head as a guest on Bonnie Hunt
Bonnie Hunt
Bonnie Lynne Hunt is an American actress, comedian, writer, director, television producer and daytime television host.- Early life :...

's ca. 1993 sitcom The Building. He also appears in The Simpsons
The Simpsons
The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

, as himself in a couch gag when The Simpsons find themselves (and the couch) in "Late Night with David Letterman." He had a cameo in the feature film Cabin Boy
Cabin Boy
Cabin Boy is a 1994 fantasy comedy film directed by Adam Resnick and produced by Tim Burton, which starred comedian Chris Elliott. Elliott co-wrote the film with Adam Resnick...

, with Chris Elliott
Chris Elliott
Christopher Nash "Chris" Elliott is an American actor, comedian and writer. He is best known for his comedic sketches on Late Night with David Letterman, starring in the cult comedy series Get a Life and for his recurring role as Peter MacDougall on Everybody Loves Raymond...

, who worked as a writer on Letterman's show. In this and other appearances, Letterman is listed in the credits as "Earl Hofert", the name of Letterman's maternal grandfather. He also appeared as himself in the Howard Stern
Howard Stern
Howard Allan Stern is an American radio personality, television host, author, and actor best known for his radio show, which was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2005. He gained wide recognition in the 1990s where he was labeled a "shock jock" for his outspoken and sometimes controversial style...

 biopic
Biographical film
A biographical film, or biopic , is a film that dramatizes the life of an actual person or people. They differ from films “based on a true story” or “historical films” in that they attempt to comprehensively tell a person’s life story or at least the most historically important years of their...

 Private Parts
Private Parts (1997 film)
Private Parts is a 1997 American biographical comedy film produced by Ivan Reitman and released by Paramount Pictures. Written by Len Blum and Michael Kalesniko, the film is an adaptation of the 1993 best-selling book of the same name by radio personality Howard Stern, who stars as himself. It...

 as well as the 1999 Andy Kaufman
Andy Kaufman
Andrew Geoffrey "Andy" Kaufman was an American entertainer, actor and performance artist. While often referred to as a comedian, Kaufman did not consider himself one...

 biopic Man on the Moon, in a few episodes of Garry Shandling
Garry Shandling
Garry Emmanuel Shandling is an American comedian, actor and writer. He is best known for his work in It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show....

's 1990s TV series The Larry Sanders Show
The Larry Sanders Show
The Larry Sanders Show is a satirical television sitcom that aired from August 1992 to May 1998 on the HBO cable television network in the United States. It starred stand-up comedian Garry Shandling as vain, neurotic talk show host Larry Sanders, and centered on the running of his TV show, and the...

and in "The Abstinence
The Abstinence
"The Abstinence" is the 143rd episode of the American sitcom Seinfeld. This was the 9th episode for the 8th season. It was originally broadcast on the NBC network on November 21, 1996.-Plot:...

", a 1996 episode of the sitcom Seinfeld
Seinfeld
Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998, lasting nine seasons, and is now in syndication. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself...

. Letterman also made an uncredited appearance in the first episode of the third season of the sitcom The Nanny
The Nanny
Nanny may refer to:* Nanny, a child's caregiver* A grandmother * A Cajun word for godmother * A female goat* Nanny , a 1981–83 British drama series starring Wendy Craig* Nanny of the Maroons...

.

Letterman provided vocals for the Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon
Warren William Zevon was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician noted for including his sometimes sardonic opinions of life in his musical lyrics, composing songs that were sometimes humorous and often had political or historical themes.Zevon's work has often been praised by well-known...

 song "Hit Somebody" from My Ride's Here
My Ride's Here
Mark Deming of Allmusic rated My Ride's Here two out of five stars. He stated that "the jokes tend to be a bit obvious", and that "the more introspective moments don't connect the way one might hope". However, he said that some of the tracks "are strong enough to remind listeners of just how...

, and provided the voice for Butt-head's father in the 1996 animated film Beavis and Butt-head Do America
Beavis and Butt-head Do America
Beavis and Butt-head Do America is a 1996 animated feature film, based on the TV series, Beavis and Butt-Head. It was produced by Paramount Pictures in association with Geffen Pictures and MTV Films, and co-written and directed by creator Mike Judge. The film grossed $20.11 million in its opening...

.

In 2010, a documentary Dying to Do Letterman was released directed by Joke Fincioen and Biagio Messina featuring Steve Mazan, a stand up comic, who has cancer and wants to appear on the Letterman Show. The film won Best Documentary and Jury Awards at the Cinequest Film Festival
Cinequest Film Festival
The Cinequest Film Festival is an annual independent film festival held in San Jose, California. The festival highlights the work of new film makers....

. Steve Mazan published a same-titled book (full title, Dying to Do Letterman: Turning Someday into Today about his own saga.

Worldwide Pants


Letterman started his own production company—Worldwide Pants Incorporated—which produced his show and several others, including Everybody Loves Raymond
Everybody Loves Raymond
Everybody Loves Raymond is an American television sitcom that originally ran on CBS from September 13, 1996, to May 16, 2005. Many of the situations from the show are based on the real-life experiences of lead actor Ray Romano, creator/producer Phil Rosenthal and the show's writing staff...

, The Late Late Show
The Late Late Show (CBS TV series)
The Late Late Show is an American late-night television talk and variety show on CBS hosted by Craig Ferguson since 2005. It immediately follows Late Show with David Letterman and is produced by Letterman's Worldwide Pants Incorporated...

, and several critically acclaimed, but short-lived television series for Bonnie Hunt
Bonnie Hunt
Bonnie Lynne Hunt is an American actress, comedian, writer, director, television producer and daytime television host.- Early life :...

. Worldwide Pants also produced the dramedy
Comedy-drama
Comedy-drama is a genre of theatre, film and television programs which combines humorous and serious content.-Theatre:Traditional western theatre, beginning with the ancient Greeks, was divided into comedy and tragedy...

 program Ed
Ed (TV series)
Ed is an NBC television program co-produced by David Letterman's Worldwide Pants Incorporated, NBC Productions, and Viacom Productions that aired from 2000 to 2004....

, which aired on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 from 2000–2004. It was Letterman's first association with NBC since he left the network in 1993. During Ed's run, the star, Tom Cavanagh
Tom Cavanagh
Thomas "Tom" Cavanagh is a Canadian actor.-Early life:Cavanagh was born in Ottawa, Ontario. He is of Irish descent and was raised in a large Roman Catholic family. Cavanagh moved with his family to Winneba, a small city in Ghana, when he was seven years old. In his teens, the family moved to...

, appeared as a guest on The Late Show several times.

In 2005, Worldwide Pants produced its first feature film, Strangers with Candy
Strangers with Candy (film)
Strangers with Candy is a 2005 comedy film released by THINKFilm, first screened at the Sundance Film Festival. It serves as a prequel to the TV series of the same name...

, which was a prequel to the Comedy Central
Comedy Central
Comedy Central is an American cable television and satellite television channel that carries comedy programming, both original and syndicated....

 TV series of the same title
Strangers with Candy
Strangers with Candy is a television series produced by Comedy Central. It first aired on April 7, 1999, and concluded its third and final season on October 2, 2000. Its timeslot was Sundays at 10 p.m....

. In 2007, Worldwide Pants produced the ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 comedy series, Knights of Prosperity.

Worldwide Pants made significant news in December 2007 when it was announced that Letterman's company had independently negotiated its own contract with the Writers Guild of America, East
Writers Guild of America, East
Writers Guild of America, East is a labor union representing writers of television and film and employees of television and radio news. The 2006 membership of the guild was 3,770....

, thus allowing Letterman, Craig Ferguson
Craig Ferguson
Craig Ferguson is a Scottish American television host, stand-up comedian, writer, actor, director, author, and producer. He is the host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, an Emmy Award-nominated, Peabody Award-winning late-night talk show that airs on CBS...

, and their writers to return to work, while the union continued its strike against production companies, networks and studios who had not reached an agreement.

Record company


In late April 2010, several music industry websites reported that Letterman started a record label named Clear Entertainment/C.E. Music and signed his first artist, Runner Runner
Runner Runner
Runner Runner is an American pop rock band founded in Huntington Beach, California in 2008. They were the first band signed to a joint venture between Capitol Records, Merovingian Music and C.E. Music, a subsidiary of David Letterman's Worldwide Pants, Inc...

. Lucy Walsh
Lucy Walsh
Lucy Walsh is a singer, songwriter, and keyboardist who served as Ashlee Simpson's backing vocalist and keyboardist for her Autobiography tour. The daughter of Eagles' guitarist Joe Walsh, she appeared on the MTV reality show Rock the Cradle, which premiered April 3, 2008.-Personal life:Lucy was...

 announced on her MySpace
MySpace
Myspace is a social networking service owned by Specific Media LLC and pop star Justin Timberlake. Myspace launched in August 2003 and is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California. In August 2011, Myspace had 33.1 million unique U.S. visitors....

 page that she has been signed by Letterman and Clear Entertainment/C.E. Music and is working on her album.

Rahal Letterman Racing



Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) is an auto racing team that currently races in the American Le Mans Series
American Le Mans Series
The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón is a sports car racing series based in the United States and Canada. It consists of a series of endurance and sprint races, and was created in the spirit of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Teams compete in one of five classes: LMP1, LMP2 and LMPC...

, and part-time in the Indy Racing League. It is co-owned by 1986 Indianapolis 500
1986 Indianapolis 500
The 70th Indianapolis 500 was held at Indianapolis on Saturday, May 31, 1986. After being rained out on May 25–26, the race was rescheduled for the following weekend...

 winner Bobby Rahal
Bobby Rahal
Robert "Bobby" Woodward Rahal is an American auto racing driver and team owner. As a driver, he won three championships and 24 races in the CART open-wheel series, including the 1986 Indianapolis 500...

 and Letterman himself, and is based in Hilliard, Ohio
Hilliard, Ohio
Hilliard is a city in Franklin County, Ohio, United States. The population was 28,435 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Hilliard is located at . It is bordered on the east by Upper Arlington, on the north by Dublin, on the south by Galloway and Columbus, and to the west lies open farmland...

. The team won the 2004 Indianapolis 500
2004 Indianapolis 500
The 2004 Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis on Sunday, May 30, 2004. It was part of the 2004 IndyCar Series season and the ninth Indy 500 sanctioned by the Indy Racing League. Pole winner Buddy Rice led the most laps and won the race for team owners Bobby Rahal and David Letterman.After...

 with driver Buddy Rice
Buddy Rice
Buddy Rice is an American racecar driver. He is best known for winning the 2004 Indianapolis 500 while driving for Rahal Letterman Racing, and the 2009 24 Hours of Daytona for Brumos Racing.-Early career:...

. Letterman was a pit reporter for ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 in the 1971 Indianapolis 500
1971 Indianapolis 500
The 1971 Indianapolis 500 was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 1971. ABC television broadcast the race for the first time in same-day tape delay....

.

American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming



American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming is Letterman's private foundation. Through it, Letterman has donated millions of dollars to charities and other non-profits in Indiana and Montana, celebrity-affiliated organizations such as Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Connecticut is a non-profit, residential summer camp and year-round center serving children and their families coping with cancer and other serious illnesses and conditions.-History:...

, universities such as Ball State
Ball State University
Ball State University is a state-run research university located in Muncie, Indiana. It is also known as Ball State or simply BSU.Located on the northwest side of the city, Ball State's campus spans and includes 106 buildings...

, and other organizations such as the American Cancer Society
American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is the "nationwide community-based voluntary health organization" dedicated, in their own words, "to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and...

, Salvation Army
Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian church known for its thrift stores and charity work. It is an international movement that currently works in over a hundred countries....

, and Doctors Without Borders
Médecins Sans Frontières
' , or Doctors Without Borders, is a secular humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization best known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries facing endemic diseases. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland...

.

Marriages and long-term relationships


In 1969, Letterman married Michelle Cook; the marriage ended by divorce in 1977. He also had a long-term relationship with former head writer and producer on Late Night, Merrill Markoe
Merrill Markoe
Merrill Markoe is an author, an Emmy Award-winning television writer and a sometime standup comedienne.-Career:Markoe attended the University of California, Berkeley, receiving a B.A. in Art in 1970 and an M.A. in 1972...

. In fact, Markoe was the mind behind several Late Night staples, such as "Stupid Pet/Human Tricks".
Letterman has a son, Harry Joseph Letterman (born on November 3, 2003), with Regina Lasko. Harry is named after Letterman's father. In 2005, police discovered a plot to kidnap
Kidnapping
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

 Harry Letterman and ransom him for $5 million. Kelly Frank, a house painter who had worked for Letterman, was charged in the conspiracy
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

.

Letterman and Lasko, who had been together since 1986, wed on March 19, 2009, during a quiet courthouse
Courthouse
A courthouse is a building that is home to a local court of law and often the regional county government as well, although this is not the case in some larger cities. The term is common in North America. In most other English speaking countries, buildings which house courts of law are simply...

 civil ceremony in Choteau, Montana
Choteau, Montana
Choteau is a city in and the county seat of Teton County, Montana, United States. It lies along U.S. Routes 89 and 287 about east of the Rocky Mountains, near Flathead National Forest, the Rocky Mountain Division of Lewis and Clark National Forest, and Glacier National Park. The population was...

, where he purchased a ranch in 1999. Letterman announced the marriage during the taping of his March 23 show, shortly after congratulating Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis
Walter Bruce Willis , better known as Bruce Willis, is an American actor, producer, and musician. His career began in television in the 1980s and has continued both in television and film since, including comedic, dramatic, and action roles...

 for getting married the previous week. Letterman told the audience he nearly missed the ceremony because his truck became stuck in mud two miles from their house. The family resides in North Salem, New York
North Salem, New York
North Salem is a town in the northeast part of Westchester County, New York, United States. The county ranks second for wealthiest counties in New York State and the seventh wealthiest county nationally...

, on a 108 acres (43.7 ha) estate.

Stalking incidents


Beginning in May 1988, Letterman was stalked
Stalking
Stalking is a term commonly used to refer to unwanted and obsessive attention by an individual or group to another person. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person and/or monitoring them via the internet...

 by Margaret Mary Ray
Margaret Mary Ray
Margaret Mary Ray was best known for stalking American television talk show host David Letterman and retired astronaut Story Musgrave.-Early life:...

, a woman suffering from schizophrenia
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

. She once stole his Porsche, repeatedly broke into his house, and camped out on his tennis court. Her exploits drew national attention, and Letterman occasionally joked about her behavior in his show, although never mentioning her name. After she committed suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 in 1998, Letterman told the New York Times that he had had great compassion for her, and publicly expressed sympathy.

Extortion attempt and revelation of affairs


On his October 1, 2009 show, Letterman announced that he had been the victim of an extortion
Extortion
Extortion is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime...

 attempt by someone threatening to reveal that he had had sex with several of his female employees, confirming the relationships. He stated that three weeks earlier (on September 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 Manhattan District Attorney's office
New York County District Attorney
The New York County District Attorney is the elected district attorney for New York County , New York. The office is responsible for the prosecution of violations of New York state laws....

, ultimately cooperating with them to conduct a sting operation
Sting operation
In law enforcement, a sting operation is a deceptive operation designed to catch a person committing a crime. A typical sting will have a law-enforcement officer or cooperative member of the public play a role as criminal partner or potential victim and go along with a suspect's actions to gather...

 involving giving the man a phony check. Subsequently, Robert J. "Joe" Halderman
Joe Halderman
Robert Joel "Joe" Halderman is an American television news writer, director, producer, and convicted felon.-Career:Halderman's journalistic career began in the early 1980s, when he was a producer on the CBS Morning Show with Diane Sawyer and Bill Kurtis...

, a producer of the CBS true crime
True crime
True crime is a non-fiction literary and film genre in which the author examines an actual crime and details the actions of real people.The crimes most commonly include murder, but true crime works have also touched on other legal cases. Depending on the writer, true crime can adhere strictly to...

 journalism series 48 Hours
48 Hours (TV series)
48 Hours is a documentary and news program broadcast on the CBS television network since January 19, 1988. The program originally presented documentaries of various events related to a particular subject occurring within a 48-hour period, and is credited as one of the first to air a "reality show"...

, was arrested after trying to deposit the check. He was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury
Grand jury
A grand jury is a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. Currently, only the United States retains grand juries, although some other common law jurisdictions formerly employed them, and most other jurisdictions employ some other type of preliminary hearing...

 and pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted grand larceny
Grand Larceny
Grand Larceny is a 1987 thriller film directed by Jeannot Szwarc and starring Marilu Henner, Ian McShane, Omar Sharif and Louis Jourdan.-Plot summary:...

 on October 2, 2009. Eventually, on March 9, 2010, he pleaded guilty to this same felony and served a 6-month jail sentence, followed by probation and community service.

A central figure in the case and one of the women Letterman had had a sexual relationship with was his longtime personal assistant Stephanie Birkitt
Stephanie Birkitt
Stephanie Anne Birkitt was an assistant to David Letterman on Late Show with David Letterman.Although Birkitt was usually treated as a character named Vicki, in some of her appearances, Letterman referred to her by various other surreal nicknames such as Smitty, Kitty, Monty, Gunter, and Dutch...

 who often appeared with him in his show. She had also worked for 48 Hours. Until a month prior to the revelations she had shared a residence with Halderman, who allegedly had copied her personal diary and used it, along with private emails, in the blackmail package.

On October 3, 2009, a former CBS employee, Holly Hester, announced that she and Letterman had engaged in a year-long "secret" affair in the early 1990s while she was his intern and a student at New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

.

In the days following the initial announcement of the affairs and the arrest, several prominent women, including Kathie Lee Gifford
Kathie Lee Gifford
Kathie Lee Gifford is an American television host, singer, songwriter and actress, best known for her 15-year run on the talk show Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, which she co-hosted with Regis Philbin...

, co-host of NBC's Today Show, and NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 news anchor Ann Curry
Ann Curry
Ann Curry is an American television news journalist and co-anchor on NBC's morning television program Today. She is the former news anchor on Today, a role she began in March 1997, and was the host of Dateline NBC from 2005-2011.Curry is a Board Member at the IWMF .-Biography:Curry was born in...

 questioned whether Letterman's affairs with subordinates created an unfair working environment. A spokesman for Worldwide Pants said that the company's sexual harassment
Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment, is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. In some contexts or circumstances, sexual harassment is illegal. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and...

 policy did not prohibit sexual relationships between managers and employees. According to business news reporter Eve Tahmincioglu, "CBS suppliers are supposed to follow the company's business conduct policies" and the CBS 2008 Business Conduct Statement states that "If a consenting romantic or sexual relationship between a supervisor and a direct or indirect subordinate should develop, CBS requires the supervisor to disclose this information to his or her Company's Human Resources Department..."

On October 5, 2009, Letterman devoted a segment of his show to a public apology to his wife and staff. Three days later, Worldwide Pants announced that Birkitt had been placed on a "paid leave of absence" from the Late Show. On October 15, CBS News announced that the company's Chief Investigative Correspondent, Armen Keteyian
Armen Keteyian
Armen Keteyian is an American television journalist and author. He is currently CBS News' Chief Investigative Correspondent based out of New York, reporting primarily for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, while also contributing to 60 Minutes.-Early life and career:Keteyian was born in...

, had been assigned to conduct an "in-depth investigation" into Halderman's blackmail of Letterman.

Awards


In his capacities as either a writer, producer, performer, or as part of a writing team, Letterman is among the most nominated people in Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 history with 52 nominations, winning two Daytime Emmys and five Primetime Emmys since 1981. His nomination record is second only to producer Jac Venza
Jac Venza
Jac Venza is a public television producer who is directly responsible for most of the theatre and music programs that have been seen on PBS since its creation in 1970...

, who holds the record for the most Emmy nominations for an individual (57). Letterman has been nominated every year since 1984, when he first appeared on late night television as the host of Late Night with David Letterman
Late Night with David Letterman
Late Night with David Letterman is a nightly hour-long comedy talk show on NBC that was created and hosted by David Letterman. It premiered in 1982 as the first incarnation of the Late Night franchise and went off the air in 1993, after Letterman left NBC and moved to Late Show on CBS. Late Night...

.
Additionally, he has won four American Comedy Awards
American Comedy Awards
The American Comedy Awards were a group of awards presented annually in the United States from 1987 to 2001 recognizing performances and performers in the field of comedy, with an emphasis on television comedy and comedy films...

. Letterman was the first recipient of the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence at The Comedy Awards
The Comedy Awards
The Comedy Awards is an annual award ceremony run by the American television network Comedy Central, honoring the best of comedy. The first ceremony took place on March 26, 2011 and aired on April 10 on CMT, Comedy Central, Logo, Spike TV, TV Land and VH1...

 in 2011.


David Letterman Communication and Media Building


On September 7, 2007, Letterman visited his alma mater, Ball State University
Ball State University
Ball State University is a state-run research university located in Muncie, Indiana. It is also known as Ball State or simply BSU.Located on the northwest side of the city, Ball State's campus spans and includes 106 buildings...

 in Muncie
Muncie, Indiana
Muncie is a city in Center Township, Delaware County in east central Indiana, best known as the home of Ball State University and the birthplace of the Ball Corporation. It is the principal city of the Muncie, Indiana, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 118,769...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, for the dedication of a communications facility named in his honor for his dedication to the university throughout his career as a comedian. The $21 million, 75000 square feet (6,967.7 m²) David Letterman Communication and Media Building opened for the 2007 Fall semester. It features state-of-the-art recording equipment and facilities. Thousands of Ball State students, faculty, and local residents welcomed Letterman back to Indiana. Letterman's emotional speech touched on his struggles as a college student and his late father, and also included the "top ten good things about having your name on a building", finishing with, "if reasonable people can put my name on a $21 million building, anything is possible."

At the same time, Letterman also received a Sagamore of the Wabash
Sagamore of the Wabash
The Sagamore of the Wabash is an honorary award created by the state of Indiana during the term of Governor Ralph F. Gates . A tri-state meeting was to be held in Louisville with officials from Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Aides to Gates learned that the governor of Kentucky was preparing...

 award given by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
Mitch Daniels
Mitchell Elias "Mitch" Daniels, Jr. is the 49th and current Governor of the U.S. state of Indiana. A Republican, he began his first four-year term as governor on January 10, 2005, and was elected to his second term by an 18-point margin on November 4, 2008. Previously, he was the Director of the...

, which recognizes distinguished service to the state of Indiana.

External links