DAVID LETTERMAN Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an American talk show host, comedian, and television producer. Letterman’s ironic, often absurdist comedy is heavily influenced by comedians Steve Allen, Ernie Kovacs, and Johnny Carson.


Letterman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Letterman’s father, Harry Joe Letterman, was a florist who passed away in 1974; his mother Dorothy, a Presbytarian church secretary, is a regular personality on his talk show. He has an older sister, Janice, and a younger sister, Gretchen. He graduated from Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis and attended Ball State University, receiving a B.A. in telecommunications in 1969. At Ball State he was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He also began his broadcasting career at Ball State’s student run radio station, WAGO - AM 570 (Now known as WCRD “Cardinal Radio Dave", 91.3). A rare aircheck of Letterman on WAGO can be heard here.




Letterman began work as a radio talk show host and on television as an anchor and weatherman for what became WTHR in Indianapolis. He received recognition for his unpredictable on-air behavior, which included erasing state borders from the weather map and predicting hail stones “the size of canned hams.” One night he reportedly upset his bosses when he congratulated a tropical storm on being upgraded to a hurricane.


In 1975, Letterman moved to California with hopes of becoming a comedy writer and started writing material for sitcoms, such as Good Times. He also began performing stand-up comedy at The Comedy Store, a famed Los Angeles comedy club and proving ground for young comics.


Letterman had a stint as a cast member on Mary Tyler Moore’s variety show Mary, a guest appearance on Mork & Mindy, and appearances on game shows such as The $20,000 Pyramid. His dry, sarcastic humor caught the attention of talent scouts for Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show, and starting in 1978, Letterman became a regular guest host for the show.


Letterman was given his own morning comedy show on NBC, The David Letterman Show. The show was a critical success, winning two Emmy Awards and receiving five nominations, but ended up being a ratings disappointment, and was cancelled after a brief run during the summer of 1980. However, NBC kept Letterman under contract, and in 1982, his Late Night with David Letterman debuted on the network.