A Brief History of David Letterman Trying to Act in Sitcoms and Movies
The Late Show with David Letterman is dark this week (as it is more and more wont to be), but it's hard to imagine a world in which Letterman is not a staple of our Late Night lives. Or, even weirder, imagining David Letterman as a sitcom actor. Before Letterman got his first show -- an early morning talk show called The David Letterman Show -- he made his mark, outside of his writing and stand-up, with an occasional foray into the world of prime-time television acting (notably with an alien named Mork). It's truly a brief history, but here's a look at David Letterman's now strange flirtation with acting.
Peeping Times (1978)
This was a summer made-for-television presentation where Letterman portrays a reporter named Dan Cochran. It's interesting to note that though this one is staged, what Letterman is doing here looks eerily similar what he would become known for on Late Night a few years later with his man-on-the-street reporting.
After The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended, Moore tried her hand at a variety show titled Mary. One of the writers that she hired was Michael Keaton; another was David Letterman. In this clip with Letterman and Moore, Dave winds up with a grapefruit smashed into his face. Mary only lasted three episodes. In 1985, Moore would try her hand at another show titled Mary, this time a traditional sitcom. It only lasted 13 episodes.
Mork & Mindy (1979)
Really, the Holy Grail of Letterman's acting performances. In later years, his appearances were either ironic or he was playing himself -- in this clip, a fairly unknown Letterman it truly trying his best to be an actor. In a first season episode of Mork & Mindy, Letterman guested as a very rude semi-self-help guru who -- as it turned out -- was trying to scam Mork and Mindy. Mork exacted revenge by stealing Letterman's Rolls Royce. Naturally.