CNN Editorial Research
Here is a look at the life of former late-night talk show host David Letterman.
Birth date: April 12, 1947
Birth place: Indianapolis, Indiana
Birth name: David Michael Letterman
Father: Harry Letterman, a florist
Mother: Dorothy (Hofert) Letterman Mengering
Marriages: Regina Lasko (March 19, 2009-present); Michelle Cook (divorced)
Children: with Regina Lasko: Harry Joseph, 2003
Education: Ball State University, B.A., 1969
Letterman is the founder of the production company Worldwide Pants, which produced “Late Show with David Letterman.”
Is a co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
“Late Night with David Letterman” was nominated for 25 Emmy Awards and won three.
“Late Show with David Letterman” was nominated for 76 Emmy Awards and won nine.
“My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman” has been nominated for four Emmy Awards.
1969 – Begins working as an announcer and weekend weatherman at WLWI (now WTHR), an ABC affiliate in Indianapolis, Indiana.
1975 – Moves to Los Angeles and begins performing stand-up at the Comedy Store. Later he is hired by Jimmie Walker, star of the CBS sitcom “Good Times,” as a writer.
1978 – Appears on Mary Tyler Moore‘s variety show, “Mary.”
November 1978 – Makes the first of 22 appearances on “The Tonight Show” hosted by Johnny Carson. Letterman also serves as a guest host on “The Tonight Show” several times.
June 23, 1980-October 24, 1980 – Hosts “The David Letterman Show,” a daytime talk show on NBC.
February 1, 1982-June 25, 1993 – Hosts “Late Night with David Letterman” on NBC.
September 23, 1984 – Wins the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program.
September 18, 1985 – Premiere of the “Top Ten” list.
September 22, 1985 – Wins the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program.
September 21, 1986 – Wins the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program.
September 20, 1987 – Wins the Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program.
May 1992 – Carson announces his retirement and speculation begins that Letterman will replace him.
January 1993 – After it is announced that Jay Leno will take Carson’s place, Letterman announces he will be leaving NBC for CBS, and expresses anger over what he regards as NBC’s poor treatment of him.
August 30, 1993-May 20, 2015 – Host of “Late Show with David Letterman.”
September 11, 1994 – Wins the Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series.
March 27, 1995 – Hosts the Academy Awards.
January 14, 2000 – Letterman undergoes quintuple bypass surgery.
September 17, 2001 – Is the first late-night talk show host to return to air after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Instead of starting the show with a humorous monologue, Letterman mourns those lost and praises the city’s firefighters and police officers. His first guest, CBS anchor Dan Rather, breaks down in tears during the broadcast.
March 31, 2003 – Letterman returns to his show after being out for nearly a month due to shingles.
March 17, 2005 – Kelly Frank, a house painter who worked on Letterman’s Montana ranch, is charged with plotting to kidnap Letterman’s son for ransom.
September 12, 2005 – Frank pleads guilty to a lesser charge and is sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 2007, he escapes, but is later recaptured.
October 1, 2009 – Letterman admits on air that he has had sexual relationships with female staff members and that someone has been attempting to blackmail him over the affairs.
October 5, 2009 – Letterman apologizes to his wife and female staffers in front of a live studio audience.
March 9, 2010 – Robert “Joe” Halderman, a former CBS News producer accused of trying to blackmail Letterman, pleads guilty to attempted second-degree grand larceny and is sentenced to six months in jail, five years’ probation and 1,000 hours of community service.
September 2, 2010 – Halderman is released after serving four months of his six-month prison sentence.
April 2012 – Extends his contract with CBS through 2014.
December 2, 2012 – Is honored at the Kennedy Center Honors gala along with Buddy Guy, Dustin Hoffman, Natalia Makarova and the musical group Led Zeppelin.
October 4, 2013 – Extends his contract with CBS through 2015.
April 3, 2014 – During an afternoon taping of “The Late Show,” Letterman announces that he will be retiring in 2015.
May 20, 2015 – Tapes his final show. Counting his work on both NBC and CBS, this is show #6,028 for Letterman.
October 30, 2016 – Letterman’s segment on climate change for the “Years of Living Dangerously” series airs on the National Geographic Channel. The episode follows Letterman as he travels around India discussing India’s zealous renewable energy plan.
October 22, 2017 – Is awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
January 12, 2018 – In the debut of his new Netflix series “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” Letterman interviews former US President Barack Obama. Guests scheduled for the rest of Letterman’s shows include George Clooney, Malala Yousafzai, Jay-Z, Tina Fey and Howard Stern.
February 1, 2022 – “Late Night” host Seth Meyers welcomes Letterman to help celebrate the show’s 40th anniversary.
December 12, 2022 – Letterman’s interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” debuts on Netflix. Letterman traveled to Kyiv for the wartime interview, which took place in an underground subway station.
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