David Letterman

Biography

David Letterman (born 12.4.1947)

David Letterman is an American comedian and TV host, best known for his work hosting the Late Show with David Letterman.

David Letterman: Childhood

David Letterman was born to Dorothy and Harry Letterman in Indianapolis, Indiana.

He attended Ball State University, where he was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He graduated from the Department of Radio and Television and began his broadcasting career at the university's campus radio.

David Letterman: Early Career

David Letterman started out as a radio talk show host on the US radio station WXLW. He also worked as news anchor and weatherman, on WLWI, where he became known for his unpredictability when he was on air.

In 1975, Letterman moved to Los Angeles, where he started writing for the sitcom Good Times. He also started doing stand-up shows at The Comedy Store.

Letterman then went on to appear in a number of TV shows, including Mary Tyler Moore's Mary as well as the sitcom Mork & Mindy. His sarcastic sense of humour attracted the attention of Johnny Carson and he soon became a regular guest on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

David Letterman: Breakthrough

In 1980, David Letterman was given his own show by NBC. The David Letterman Show was a morning comedy show which, despite winning two Emmy Awards, failed to attract enough viewers and was cancelled later that year. NBC kept Letterman on contract, though and offered him a different time slot, launching Late Night with David Letterman in 1982. The show aired directly after the Johnny Carson show on which Letterman had cut his teeth. Among his more infamous pranks on the show is the time he walked into the Live at Five local news studio and interrupted Al Roker's broadcast. The comedian Andy Kaufman was wrestled to the floor by the wrestler Bob Zmuda in a pre-arranged sketch.

When NBC chose Jay Leno over him to present the Tonight show following Johnny Carson's departure, Letterman decamped to CBS and the Late Show With David Letterman became a rival to the Tonight show, airing at the same time. The on-screen battle between Letterman and Leno was later documented in the HBO film The Late Shift. Letterman frequently mocked the film's producers for choosing John Michael Higgins to play him in the film.

David Letterman was forced to take a break from his show in 2000 when he was rushed to hospital for a quintuple heart bypass. During his hiatus, CBS aired re-runs of his show, that were introduced by some of Letterman's friends, including Drew Barrymore, Robin Williams, Bruce Willis and Julia Roberts. He also had a number of guest hosts taking on his role whilst he was still recovering. Among the guests were Bill Cosby, Dana Carvey and Kathie Lee Gifford. Upon his return to the show, Dave Grohl's band Foo Fighters performed their song 'Everlong' on the show, at Letterman's request.

In 2003, Letterman was diagnosed with a serious case of shingles and was forced once again to invite guest hosts onto the show to take over whilst he recovered. Bill Cosby was invited once more, as were Elvis Costello, Vince Vaughn, John McEnroe and Will Ferrell. When Letterman contracted a stomach virus in 2007, Adam Sandler took over for a show on which he was originally intended to be a guest.

David Letterman earns a reported $40 million per year, according to Forbes magazine.

David Letterman's production company is named Worldwide Pants Incorporated. The company produces his show, along with a number of other long-running successful shows such as Everybody Loves Raymond and Ed. The company's first feature film, Strangers With Candy was released in 2005.

Letterman co-owns an Indy Racing League team, Rahal Letterman Racing. The team won the Indianapolis 500 in 2004, with Buddy Rice driving.

David Letterman: Personal Life

David Letterman married Michelle Cook in 1969 and they were married for eight years. He also had a long-term relationship with a former colleague, Merrill Markoe.

David Letterman has a son, Harry, with Regina Lasko, with whom he lives in New York. David and Regina married in March 2009.

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