Biogs – Past Hosts

Biogs – Past Hosts

This page has biogs for past talk show hosts. Click here to view biogs for current hosts.

David Letterman

Letterman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on the 12th April 1947.

He attended Ball State University who have since named a building after him – The David Letterman Communication And Media Building.

David co-owns a racing team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and businessman Mike Lanigan.

David likes to keep his relationship with Regina Lasko very private but often talks about his son Harry on-air.

Harry was born in 2003. Letterman married his long-term girlfriend Regina Lasko in his hometown of Montana on the 19th March 2009 after having been dating her since 1986. He announced the marriage on the 23rd March 2009 episode of the Late Show. David had always said no to re-marrying so this was very unexpected.

Not that long after the announcement was made an affair scandal & extortion attempt against him came to light.

He started his working life as a radio talk show host on a local Indianapolis radio station, and as a news anchor & weatherman on a local Indianapolis TV channel. Letterman’s weather forecasts were somewhat unique to say the least, including one forecest where he congratulated a tropical storm for being upgraded to a hurricane. David moved to Los Angeles in 1975 to become a standup comedian and a comedy writer. He performed at the world-famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles. He also had TV appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Johnny was Letterman’s idol. In addition to The Tonight Show, he was on other shows such as The Gong Show and comedy series Mork & Mindy.

Dave started off his late night talk show career with Paul Shaffer on NBC – on Late Night With David Letterman in 1982.

Before Late Night With David Letterman, he hosted a short-lived morning show on NBC in 1980. His morning show on NBC lasted for three months in 1980. It was a mixture of chat and other things you’d expect from a breakfast show.

They both defected to CBS after Late Night, when Dave lost out on the job to host The Tonight Show on NBC when Johnny Carson retired from the job. Jay Leno was chosen instead, and Dave defected to CBS as they would not offer him an 11.35pm slot on NBC – only his original 12.35am slot. Conan O’Brien took over from Letterman on Late Night on NBC when Dave moved to CBS.

When Dave moved to CBS he renamed his show to the Late Show With David Letterman. The show on CBS has been going since 30th August 1993. It is one of America’s favourite chat shows. NBC were angry when Letterman swapped to CBS so they claimed “intellectual property” of many of the assets from Late Night With David Letterman. Therefore he had to rename several things – including renaming Viewer Mail to the CBS Mailbag and renaming the band as the CBS Orchestra.

Dave has won 13 Emmys and had 74 Emmy nominations in total with both Late Night With David Letterman and the Late Show With David Letterman. The David Letterman Show on NBC won 2 Emmys and had five nominations in total. Dave hosted the Academy Awards in 1995, which he still describes as being terrible. One of the most memorable parts from Letterman hosting the Academy Awards was the infamous “Uma…Oprah! Oprah…Uma!” moment when he saw Oprah Winfrey and Uma Thurman in the audience.

Dave was one of the regular guests on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson with 22 appearances in total. Johnny was the person Dave looked up to the most for his comedy act – the segment Stump The Band on the Late Show With David Letterman is from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Dave has become a national institution in America and beyond, with the Late Show going from success to success. Dave is widely speculated to have been Johnny Carson’s choice for hosting The Tonight Show when Johnny retired (even though Dave didn’t get a chance to host the show), and Johnny Carson appeared on the Late Show – seen by some as a display of support for Dave. Johnny never once appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno – which led to speculation that Johnny wasn’t a fan of Jay.

Dave is a well-established humourist and standup comedian, and is well respected by other chat show hosts Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno – even though it is said Dave and Jay haven’t spoken to each other in years.

The often-mentioned past “feud” between Dave and Oprah Winfrey has been subject to many moments in Late Show (and Late Night) history. The “feud” was resolved when Oprah appeared on the Late Show on the 1st December 2005, and they did an TV advert together during the Superbowl in 2007. Dave also appeared as a guest on Oprah’s show on the 10th September 2007.

In 2007, the writers strike took place in America which brought many shows to a standstill as teams of writers walked out over pay terms. This included the Late Show, and taping was suspended throughout November and December that year, which meant they missed the big Christmas show with Darlene Love for the first time ever. After agreeing a separate deal with the WGA, the show returned to the air on the 7th January 2008 with David having grown a “strike beard”, which was removed on-air not too soon after they came back.

In addition to the Late Show and the racing team, Letterman also owns his own production company known as Worldwide Pants Incorporated who produce several shows including the Late Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson and The Knights Of Prosperity.

In April 2014 he announced his retirement from the Late Show. Stephen Colbert is his Late Show successor.

David Letterman’s final Late Show aired on Wednesday 20th May 2015, ending a late night career spanning 33 years across NBC and CBS.

Paul Shaffer

Paul worked with Dave since 1982 as his musical director – first on NBC’s Late Night as the band leader for “The World’s Most Dangerous Band” and then on the Late Show for “The CBS Orchestra”.

He hosted the Late Show a few times himself, including when Dave went in to have his quintuple heart bypass surgery.

Paul has also been on such shows as Saturday Night Live, has played on Broadway and usually provides the live music for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony every year.

Paul is a very successful musician, having worked on hugely popular songs including It’s Raining Men.

He also appeared in rock mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap.

CBS Orchestra

Final members:

Paul Shaffer on keyboards, and vocals (August 1993–May 2015)
Anton Fig on drums and percussion (August 1993–May 2015)
Felicia Collins on guitar, vocals, and percussion (August 1993–May 2015)
Sid McGinnis on guitar, pedal steel guitar and vocals (August 1993–May 2015)
Will Lee on bass guitar and vocals (August 1993–May 2015)
Tom Malone on trombone, trumpet, saxophone, piccolo, percussion (Nov 1993–May 2015)
Aaron Heick on saxophone (August 2012–May 2015)
Frank Greene on trumpet and percussion (August 2012–May 2015)

Former members:

Bernie Worrell on synthesizers (August 1993–November 1993)
Bruce Kapler on saxophone, flute, and vocals (November 1993–February 2012)
Al Chez on trumpet, vocals, and percussion (February 1997–July 2012)

“The World’s Most Dangerous Band” members on NBC:

Paul Shaffer on keyboards (1982–1993)
Will Lee on bass guitar and vocals (1982–1993)
Steve Jordan on drums and percussion (1982–1986)
Hiram Bullock on guitar (1982–1984)
Sid McGinnis on guitar (1984–1993)
Anton Fig on drums and percussion (1986–1993)

Alan Kalter

Alan was the Late Show announcer since 1995, when he replaced Bill Wendell who was the show’s announcer 1993-1995.

He did the announcements over the opening titles on the show every night and provided other announcements during the show – largely when going into commercial breaks.

In addition to making announcements, Alan also had his own segments on the show and made frequent appearances.

Biff Henderson

Biff was the stage manager for The David Letterman Show, Late Night With David Letterman and the Late Show With David Letterman.

In addition to carrying out his duties as stage manager, Biff often featured in various segments on the show.

Biff has also had an appearance on CSI: Miami, in 2002, for which he was uncredited for.

Rupert Jee

Rupert runs the Hello Deli sandwich shop around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater and appeared in various Late Show segments over the years usually live from the Hello Deli.

Rupert isn’t an official cast member of the Late Show but is a good friend of the show.

Jay Leno

Jay was born in New York after his mother moved to America from Scotland when she was 11 years old.

He started out in showbusiness as a warmup act for Tom Jones, amongst other people.

Leno carried on with his standup comedy – including several appearances as a guest on Late Night With David Letterman. He started as host of The Tonight Show in 1992.

David Letterman was the original favourite to take over from Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1992, but Jay got the job. Letterman was favourite for the job, because Johnny Carson and Dave were good friends.

Leno’s TV work includes an appearance (as himself) on The Simpsons, voice work on Family Guy and animated film Ice Age 2 (and Cars), and he’s also played himself in The West Wing and TV show Just Shoot Me. Jay can also been seen in the film Space Cowboys and in an episode of Scrubs.

Jay made headlines during the Michael Jackson trial where they placed a “gagging order” to prevent him from telling jokes about the trial (mainly because he was a witness). To get around this, he got guests on to do Jackson jokes for him – thus avoiding the gagging order.

Jay has written for British newspaper The Sunday Times (mainly about one of his main passions – cars – but also more recently including showbiz incites, etc). It is well known that Jay his hugely passionate about cars and owns a vast collection. He also was the subject of an episode of American Chopper, where they built him his own custom motorbike.

Leno left The Tonight Show on the 29th May 2009 to make way for Conan O’Brien to take over the show.

Jay launched a new primetime NBC show in September 2009 called The Jay Leno Show which was very similar to The Tonight Show, just at an earlier timeslot.

Conan O’Brien was controversially axed from The Tonight Show in early 2010 and Leno returned for his second tenure on the programme on the 1st March 2010.

Jay retired from The Tonight Show for a second time on the 6th February 2014. Jimmy Fallon took over The Tonight Show.

Since leaving The Tonight Show, Jay has continued performing standup and continues work on his NBC website Jay Leno’s Garage, which will be turned into a CNBC TV show in 2015.

Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson was the host of the Late Late Show from January 2005 to December 2014. Prior to Ferguson hosting the programme, Craig Kilborn was the host, preceeded by original host Tom Snyder.

Craig started off his career as a standup comedian and a Scottish TV host.

He’s also been in a rock band called Exposure – his musical talents came across to The Late Late Show where he sang the opening theme tune.

The stage name for his standup performances in the UK was Bing Hitler. Ferguson also did some work in musical theatre, including a role in the London stage show version of The Rocky Horror Show.

He appeared at the Edinburgh Festival which led him to getting roles in various TV projects, including cult sci-fi show Red Dwarf, the Hogmanay Show on STV and in a special episode of the BBC sitcom One Foot In The Grave.

When Craig first came to Los Angeles in 1994, he appeared in ABC comedy show Maybe This Time with Marie Osmond. His main breakthrough came when he got a job to play a high profile character on the hughly successful Drew Carey Show from 1996 to 2003.

He’s directed such films as Saving Grace and I’ll Be There, and has been in such films as Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events, The Ugly Truth, Chain of Fools and Born Romantic.

The Late Late Show was a huge hit in the US and has a cult following. He coined the opening line “it’s a great day for America” which he usually said at the start of every programme.

Ferguson has also made an appearance on animated series Family Guy (as a live action clip of him discussing something on the Late Late Show – filmed especially for Family Guy).

He’s also written several books including Between The Bridge And The River and his memoirs American On Purpose.

Craig became a US citizen on the 1st February 2008.

His syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game premiered in September 2014.

Craig Ferguson left the Late Late Show in December 2014. It’s thought he will concentrate on other TV projects such as the continuation of Celebrity Name Game, and will also go back to performing more standup.

Jon Stewart

Since January 1999 Jon Stewart has hosted The Daily Show on Comedy Central.

Jon started out on the comedy citcuit in New York, but dropped his surname (Leibowitz) and changed his middle name (Stuart) for a stage name.

Following stints as host and writer of shows on Comedy Central and MTV, Jon was in the running for taking over from David Letterman on Late Night in 1993.

David Letterman would be the last guest on The Jon Stewart Show which was developed by Jon Stewart for MTV in 1993.

Following the show, he was a guest host on the Late Late Show for Tom Snyder.

In 1999 Daily Show host Craig Kilborn left to host the Late Late Show and Jon Stewart joined as host, co-exec producer and writer.

Jon Stewart hosted the Oscars in 2006 and 2008.

He left The Daily Show on Thursday 6th August 2015 after 16 years.