David Letterman Net Worth
David Letterman has an estimated net worth of $400 million. Comedian David Letterman is known for his his irreverent sense of humor and groundbreaking shows ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ and ‘Late Show.’ He earns most of his income from his career as a talk show host and television producer.
David Letterman, who was born on April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana, got his big break when he started appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He eventually got his own show, Late Night with David Letterman, where he featured popular segments like Stupid Pet Tricks. When NBC replaced Carson with Jay Leno in 1992, Letterman moved to CBS to host The Late Show for the next two decades. Following a brief hiatus, the comedian returned to hosting in early 2018 with My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.
To calculate the net worth of David Letterman, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.
Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:
|Net Worth:||$400 Million|
|Monthly Salary:||$3 Million|
|Annual Income:||$50 Million|
|Source of Wealth:||Announcer, Actor, Comedian, Presenter, Television producer, Screenwriter, Talk show host, Film Producer, Voice Actor|
Early Life and Career
David Letterman was born on April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to florist Harry Joseph Letterman and Dorothy, a church secretary who appeared regularly as a correspondent on his late-night talk show. Janice and Gretchen are his two sisters.
Letterman is best known for his gap-toothed self-mockery and brash, wry, and slightly cynical sense of humor. His unconventional demeanor and sense of humor drew a cult following, which inspired countless comedians and talk show hosts who followed in his footsteps.
Letterman attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where he studied radio and television (B.A.,1969). In Indianapolis, he worked as a radio talk-show host, a children’s program host, a late-night movie show host, a news anchor, and a television weatherman, where his sense of humor was already apparent, if not always appreciated. He reportedly irritated his bosses one night when he congratulated a tropical storm on being upgraded to a hurricane.
TV Writer and ‘Tonight Show’ Guest Host
Letterman moved to Los Angeles in 1975 and began writing for popular sitcoms such as Good Times. His big break came when he started appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, whom he now considers his mentor.
He became Carson’s regular guest host in 1978, and he was offered his own daytime show, the David Letterman Show, in 1980. The show only lasted three months, but it was a critical success, and it persuaded NBC-TV to give the young comedian a late-night show after Carson’s The Tonight Show.
‘Late Night with David Letterman’
Letterman’s brash and quirky humor suited the late-late show hour perfectly. Late Night with David Letterman quickly gained a young audience by combining the usual talk-show ingredients of celebrity guests and music with his irreverent demeanor and zany comic stunts.
The Top Ten List, Stupid Pet Tricks (along with its companion, Stupid Human Tricks), Viewer Mail, and pencils thrown at the camera and the set behind him, “breaking” the non-existent glass with a cued crash sound were among Letterman’s signature features. He was also known for his parody sketches that mocked his bandleader, Paul Shaffer (and other members of The World’s Most Dangerous Band), stagehand Biff Henderson, and general oddball Larry “Bud” Melman.
Hosting Controversy and ‘Late Show’ on CBS
Letterman moved to CBS after NBC chose Jay Leno to replace the retiring Johnny Carson in 1992, a position Letterman had publicly desired. He agreed to host Late Show with David Letterman, which aired alongside The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. That same year, he established his own production company, Worldwide Pants, which acquired a stake in his new show.
His annoyance with NBC executives provided fodder for his monologues, and when they refused to allow him to transfer regular features of his show to CBS, claiming it was NBC’s “intellectual property,” that, too, was mocked on air. The late-night talk show “wars” were documented in a book and a cable movie in the years that followed this head-to-head competition.
Emergency Heart Surgery
Letterman underwent emergency quintuple heart bypass surgery on January 14, 2000. The recovering patient joked, in typical Letterman fashion, that “in addition to rerouting the arteries, they also installed an E-Z pass.” On February 21, 2000, Letterman’s first post-op show aired, featuring Regis Philbin, Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams (in medical scrubs), and eight members of the team who cared for Letterman while he was in the hospital.
Successes and End of ‘Late Show’
Letterman renewed his contract with CBS in December 2006, agreeing to host Late Show with David Letterman until the fall of 2010. He was ranked No. 17 on Forbes’ list of the richest men in the entertainment industry in 2007, earning an estimated $40 million that year. Letterman was also ranked 14th on Forbes’ list of the most powerful people in entertainment in 2009.
Letterman’s Peabody Award-winning company, Worldwide Pants, was cited by the magazine as one of the secrets to his wealth and power; in addition to Letterman’s show, the company produced successful comedies such as Everybody Loves Raymond and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
David Letterman announced his retirement plans in April 2014, and Stephen Colbert was named as his replacement.
“I just want to thank the network again, all of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theater, all of the people on the staff, everyone at home, thank you very much,” Letterman said to his studio audience.
Letterman received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in October 2017. The award “recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain.”
Netflix Show: ‘My Next Guest Needs No Introduction’
Two years after retiring, the long-running host announced his return to television in a new Netflix talk show series titled My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. “I feel incredibly fortunate and excited to be working on this project for Netflix,” he said in a statement. “Here’s what I’ve learned: if you want to retire to spend more time with your family, consult with them first. Thank you for watching, and please drive safely.”
Letterman debuted My Next Guest Needs No Introduction on January 12, 2018, with former President Barack Obama as his first guest, with musical contributions from his old bandleader, Shaffer, and sporting a massive gray beard. Season 2 premiered in May 2019 after a six-episode first season.
Wife and Son
Letterman is well-known for successfully keeping his romantic and private life out of the public eye. From 1969 to 1977, he was married to Michele Cook, after which he was romantically linked to comedienne/writer Merrill Markoe. In the mid-1980s, he began a relationship with production manager Regina Lasko.
Letterman and Lasko welcomed their son in 2003, naming him Harry Joseph Letterman after the TV host’s father. The couple married on March 19, 2009, in a private courthouse ceremony in Choteau, Montana, and Letterman announced his marriage during the March 23rd taping of his show.
Cheating Scandal and Extortion Attempt
A cheating scandal rocked their relationship only months later. Letterman revealed on his show on October 1, 2009, that he had been the victim of an extortion attempt related to his infidelity. That same day, CBS News producer Robert “Joe” Halderman, the boyfriend of Letterman’s longtime assistant Stephanie Birkitt, was arrested for allegedly attempting to extort $2 million from Letterman by threatening to expose his affair with Birkitt. Halderman pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny in 2010 and was sentenced to six months in prison, but was released four months later.
Letterman apologized to his wife on air after the scandal broke: “She has been horribly hurt by my behavior, and when something like that happens, if you hurt a person and it’s your responsibility, you try to fix it.”
The couple reconciled and now live on a 108-acre estate in North Salem, New York, with their son.
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