David Michael Letterman is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer known for hosting late-night television talk shows for over 30 years. At his peak, he was considered an American cultural icon and a king of late-night shows. So what’s David Letterman’s net worth after such an illustrious career? Let’s find out as we dive deeper into his biography.
David Letterman Net Worth
David Letterman has an estimated net worth of $400 million as of 2023. He earned most of his wealth during his incredible 33 years as a late-night talk show host on NBC and CBS. He was one of the highest-paid TV hosts during his peak, earning around $30 million per year.
Apart from his lucrative TV career, Letterman also owned his own production company, Worldwide Pants, which produced his shows and other programs. He also invested in various businesses and real estate. Even after retirement in 2015, residuals from years of TV domination contributed handsomely to David Letterman’s massive fortune.
David Letterman Early Life
David Letterman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 12, 1947. His father, Harry Joseph Letterman, worked as a florist while his mother, Dorothy Mengering, was a church secretary.
In school, Letterman was very introverted and shy. He had no athletic ability, but he did well academically. As a child, he admired his father’s wit and sense of humor, influencing his comedic talents.
After high school, Letterman went to Ball State University to major in telecommunications. He joined the student-run radio station WIDB and got his first hosting job doing the overnight radio show. This sparked his interest in a broadcasting career.
David Letterman Career
After college, Letterman moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a comedy writer. He started performing stand-up comedy at The Comedy Store, later leading to appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1978. His eccentric style caught the attention of talent scouts, and he soon hosted his morning talk show on NBC called The David Letterman Show.
Late Night with David Letterman
NBC saw promise in the young broadcaster and gave him his late night talk show following Johnny Carson called Late Night with David Letterman, which aired from 1982 to 1993. The show became a hit known for its eccentric bits and unpredictable interviews. Letterman helped reinvent the TV talk show format with quirky segments like Stupid Pet Tricks and the Top Ten List.
At its peak, Late Night drew nearly 7 million viewers per episode, making David Letterman a household name. His witty sarcasm and irreverent humor won over legions of fans, dubbing him the new King of Late Night.
The Late Show with David Letterman
When Johnny Carson retired in 1992, it was expected that Letterman would take over The Tonight Show, given his popularity. But in a controversial decision, NBC executives selected Jay Leno instead for The Tonight Show’s coveted 11:35 pm slot.
A bitter Letterman moved to rival network CBS in 1993, where he launched The Late Show with David Letterman in direct competition with The Tonight Show. Letterman and Leno battled intensely for late-night supremacy for two decades, with Letterman proving the ratings leader for the first 14 years.
At CBS, the media coined TV’s late-night wars for the fierce rivalry between the hosts. Both shows went toe to toe, trying to win viewers by landing high-profile names and exclusive interviews.
Letterman revolutionized late night shows by welcoming non-traditional guests like Bill Murray, Julia Roberts, and even Oprah Winfrey, who made a highly publicized appearance after ending her feud with Letterman.
Over its incredible 22-year span, The Late Show with David Letterman won numerous Emmys and a prestigious Peabody Award, solidifying David Letterman’s legacy as the undisputed champion of late night television.
Retirement from Late Night
In April 2014, a 66-year-old Letterman announced his retirement from late night television. His last episode aired on May 20, 2015, which featured touching tributes from friends and admirers like Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and Tom Hanks, to name a few. Letterman endorsed Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert as his successor and continues to host the Late Show today.
Post Retirement Projects
Even in retirement, the prolific Letterman remains active in the entertainment business as a producer. His production company, Worldwide Pants, has produced various TV series over the years, such as Everybody Loves Raymond and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Letterman has also hosted other shows like My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman for Netflix, featuring celebrity interviews and an in-depth profile of President Barack Obama. Proving his interviewing prowess is still as sharp as ever, the show has run for multiple seasons, showing retirement has not slowed the icon down.
At 75, Letterman enjoys a quieter lifestyle, devoting time to his family and various philanthropic endeavors like the American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming, which provides college scholarships and mentoring to deserving students.
David Letterman Personal Life
For over three decades, David Letterman was one of the most public figures on American television. However, he remained intensely private about his personal affairs and relationships. Before marriage, Letterman had a long-term live-in relationship with the head comedy writer on this show, Merrill Markoe, from 1978 to 1988. Markoe is credited for shaping much of Letterman’s quirky, subversive humor in his early career.
David Letterman Wife
In March 2009, Letterman shocked his audiences when he revealed during a taping that he had married his longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko earlier that month. The notoriously media-shy couple began dating in 1986 and had been together for over 23 years.
Regina worked as a production manager for Letterman’s show. The two had met when Lasko was an art student working behind the scenes as a production assistant. She often kept a low profile to avoid her famous relationship status affecting her work.
David Letterman Son
Letterman and Lasko have one child – a son named Harry Joseph Letterman, born in 2003. Named after Letterman’s father, Harry keeps totally out of the spotlight. At 70, Letterman takes immense joy in spending time with his family and being a father and husband away from the screen.
Recovering from Personal Scandal
Never one to shy away from self-deprecation, Letterman openly spoke about a stunning blackmail case in 2009 where a producer of his show, Joe Halderman, threatened to expose Letterman’s secret affairs with female staff members unless he was paid $2 million. Letterman came clean and admitted to the affairs in an on-air apology to his wife and staff.
In a sign of his wide popularity, the confession did little damage to his reputation. Viewers commended his honesty, and Letterman emerged largely unscathed with public support stronger than ever.
Unknown Facts about David Letterman
Behind his sarcastic, grumpy exterior, there are little-known facets to Letterman showcasing his generosity and compassionate nature:
- Letterman secretly financed the entire college tuition for a disadvantaged student through a scholarship fund named after his mother.
- After the 9/11 attacks, Letterman was the first late-night host to resume airing shows. His heartfelt monologue praising first responders was critically acclaimed for helping America heal.
- Letterman donated millions to charities and organizations like the American Foundation for the Courtesy and Grooming and Ball State University.
The King of Late Night’s Lasting Influence
In an outstanding career spanning over 60 years, David Letterman holds a special place in American pop culture as a sharp-witted pioneer who completely transformed the landscape of late night comedy and talk shows.
He handled everything with his trademark sarcasm through the highs and lows, proving that very few could match his comedic talents or interviewing skills in front of the camera. Reruns of his iconic shows continue to air, gaining newer fans and upholding David Letterman’s legacy as the irreverent king of late night television.
See Also: Anne Stringfield goes to the Ed Sullivan Theater to see David Letterman’s Late Show.
What is David Letterman’s age?
David Letterman is currently 76 years old. He was born on April 12, 1947 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Who is Letterman’s wife?
David Letterman is married to Regina Lasko, his longtime girlfriend of over 2 decades before their wedding. The couple started dating in 1986 and got married in March 2009.
What is the name of David Letterman’s son?
David Letterman and his wife Regina Lasko have one son named Harry Joseph Letterman. Harry was born in November 2003 and is now 20 years old. He keeps a very low profile away from the media glare.
How tall is David Letterman?
David Letterman stands at 6 feet 2 inches tall or approximately 1.88 meters.
Is David Letterman married?
Yes, David Letterman married in March 2009 to his partner of 23 years, Regina Lasko. Their wedding was very private, which surprised many fans, given Letterman’s private nature.
What is David Letterman Net Worth 2024?
As of 2024, David Letterman’s estimated net worth is approximately $450 million. Even in retirement, residuals from his extremely successful late night talk show significantly contribute to his massive fortune.
Is David Letterman Jewish?
No, David Letterman is not Jewish. He was raised Presbyterian by his parents and later became a follower of Transcendental Meditation.
Who replaced David Letterman?
When David Letterman retired in 2015, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert took over as the host of CBS’s Late Show, which Letterman hosted for over 2 decades.
Where is David Letterman’s family?
David Letterman has always been very private about his family life. He is married to Regina Lasko, and they have a son named Harry. The family splits their time away from public attention, residing in North Salem, New York, and St. Barts in the Caribbean.