5 Things You Didn't Know About David Letterman

On August 30, 1993, The Late Show With David Letterman premiered on CBS. After moving his popular show from NBC, Letterman continued to entertain audiences with his Top Ten lists, Stupid Pet Tricks, and more. Here are five things you didn't know about David Letterman.

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Regis Philbin Appeared on The Show a Record Number of Times Some sources say 136 times, and some say 150, but either way, it's the record number of times that Regis Philbin appeared on David Letterman's show. Philbin even guest-hosted the show in 2000 when Letterman was recovering from surgery. When Philbin died in 2020, Letterman posted a tribute to him on social media, calling him charming and the best guest on the show. Letterman also claimed that he lost interest in TV once Philbin retired.

He Started Out As a Weatherman After graduating from university in Indiana in 1969, Letterman began his broadcast career as a television weatherman and news anchor in Indianapolis, Indiana. He received attention for his unpredictable on-air behavior, which included congratulating a tropical storm for being upgraded to a hurricane and predicting hail stones "the size of canned hams." His brand of humor was already evident as he would often report the weather for fictitious cities ("Eight inches of snow in Bingree and surrounding areas"). He also once announced that government officials had “removed the border between Indiana and Ohio making it one giant state, after part of the on-screen weather map had been accidentally erased. 

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He Had a Stalker Through The 80s and 90s One unfortunate side-effect of fame is that celebrities occasionally have to deal with stalkers, and Letterman is no exception. Letterman’s stalker ordeal began in 1988, when a woman named Margaret Mary Ray, was arrested for speeding around in Letterman's car, which she had stolen from his drive. Ray began frequently breaking into Letterman’s house and even camped out on his tennis court. Eventually, Ray – who was schizophrenic – was arrested and ordered to serve 34 months in jail. Sadly, Ray took her own life not long after her release. Letterman called her death “a sad ending to a confused life”.

His Famous Pencils Have Erasers at Both Ends Letterman was known for holding a pencil while at his desk on set and then tossing the pencil toward the audience at the end of the show. While he wasn't launching the pencils like missiles, he and the showrunners didn't take a chance on the pencils hurting anyone. They had pencils with erasers at both ends at the ready for that end-of-show throw.

The Late Show Was Not Actually Taped Every Day It's pretty well-known that late-night shows actually tape during the day, often in the afternoon. So, it shouldn't be a surprise that Letterman followed that schedule, too. What may be surprising is that the show wasn't taped daily. There would be two shows taped on Thursday, with the first taping meant for Thursday night and the second taping meant for Friday night. That gave those running the recording sessions a break and a longer weekend.