David Letterman – Net Worth in 2020, Son & Wife

What is David Letterman’s net worth?

Net Worth:
$400 million - $425 million
Salary:Not Available
Income Sources:His television career, production company, brand endorsements
Age/Date of Birth:
April 12, 1947
Height:
6 ft 2 in or 188 cm
Nationality:American
Last Updated:
2020

David Letterman is a former host of late-night shows, writer, comedian, actor, and producer. He hosted late-night television talk shows for 33 years, starting with the February 1, 1982 debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, and finishing with the May 20, 2015 broadcast of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. As of 2020, David Letterman is worth $400 million.

A Step-by-step Breakdown of David Letterman’s Sources of Income and Net Worth Accumulation 

Making up David Letterman’s net worth of $400 million are two major income sources, namely:

  • Television hosting
  • TV and Film Production

Born on April 12, 1947 to Harry Joseph and Dorothy Letterman in Indianapolis, David Letterman launched his broadcasting career as a disc jockey on Ball State University students’ radio station, WAGO-AM 570 from where he earned a B.A in Radio and Television in 1969. He subsequently became an all-purpose announcer on an Indianapolis station, WLWI. David later worked as a substitute for Weatherman, children’s program host, and news anchor.

In 1975, Letterman moved to Los Angeles to expand his show business to include comedy writing and stand-up comedy. He then began writing, hosting and appearing in a number of TV shows including Good Times, The Starland Vocal Band Show, Peeping Times, Mork & Mindy, The Mike Douglas Show, and more.

David Letterman on his Late Night Show in the early 1980s

Breakthrough with The Tonight Show

David Letterman hit his career breakthrough after he started appearing on the NBC late-night talk show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1978. His regular appearances on the show marked the beginning of Letterman’s journey to career and financial success on TV.

The David Letterman Show

Owing to his outstanding humorous talents (particularly his unique brand of dry sarcasm), NBC soon created his own morning comedy show, The David Letterman Show. The talk show aired from June 23 to October 24, 1980; and for the short time it lasted, Letterman reportedly earned a total of $1 million in salaries.

Following its cancellation due to poor ratings, Letterman guest-hosted The Tonight Show for $20,000 per week and $1 million per annum until he got another show of his own on the network.

Late Night With David Letterman

In 1982, NBC created a nightly show for David titled, Late Night With David Letterman which debuted on February 1. The next 11 years saw Letterman host the nightly comedy show while enjoying its wild critical success and financial gains.

Through these years, Letterman’s exclusive quirky style of humour placed him above his equals in tv talk show comedy. Among his popular comic packages are the “Stupid Pet/Human Tricks” and genre-mocking “Top 10 list”. His last annual salary for the show was $7 million.

Late Show With David Letterman

In 1993, David Letterman left NBC for CBS where he began hosting the Late Show With David Letterman. It debuted on August 30, 1993, and aired its last segment on May 20, 2015 when Letterman officially retired from late-night TV hosting. The 22-year Late Show spell saw David Letterman rise tremendously both in fame and wealth.

Although Letterman made some changes in his NBC content due to right disputes, he still retained its original characteristics. Among other minor alterations, the Funnyman changed his dressing style and renamed some of his comedy packages. For instance, he replaced his NBC signature “blazer on khaki pants and boxing shoes” with tailored suits and matching formal shoes; the “Top 10 List” became the “Late Show Top 10”, and things like that. Still maintaining his original humour style, Letterman was able to drag millions of his NBC viewers to CBS. Not only did he transfer many of his original viewers, he also gained millions of new watchers.

David Letterman

For his first three years of hosting the CBS Late Show, Letterman received double of his NBC Late Night salary – $14 million. Meanwhile, he reportedly earned a total of $31,500,000 in salary, show licensing and profits within his first year on the show.

With the wild reception and patronage that followed in the next few years, his annual paycheck soared to $20 million. It subsequently peaked at $40 million by 2007 per Forbes‘ magazine who ranked him 17th on their list of 100 Best Paid Celebrities that year.

However, the later years of Late Show saw David’s earnings drop due to dwindling viewership. Its advertising revenue declined to $114.5 million compared to the $271 million it made in previous years, causing his salary to revert to $32 million as of 2009, $28 million in 2012, and $20 million in 2013. This notwithstanding, the final segment of the Late Show received a massive 13.76 million views in the US, becoming the highest-rated program on network television that night. As of June 2015, Forbes pegged Letterman’s yearly earnings at $35 million.

In his first twenty years in late night television, David’s shows received 67 Emmy nominations out of which he won 12. With his Late Night and Late Show put together, Letterman hosted 6,080 episodes in 33 years, earning himself the title of the longest-serving late night talk show host in the US tv history. Alongside hosting the shows, David also earned from creating, writing and producing them.

My Next Guest and other Screen Appearances

After staying away from TV for about three years, David Letterman launched a return with a new Netflix show titled My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. Per Variety, Letterman pockets as much as $12 million for one (six-episode) season of the talk show series.

The Netflix series which premiered on January 12, 2018 has aired two seasons and had Letterman pocket $24 million in one and half years (Jan. 2018-June 2019). My Next Guest has continued to record wide reception, and is about to launch its third season as of the time of writing this article.

Beside his hosting jobs, David Letterman has made several other lucrative film and television appearances. Notable among the movies and tv shows/series he has featured in is Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996) which brought in a Box Office revenue of $63 million against a $12 million budget. The legendary Funnyman also adds bits of boost to his net worth with earnings from numerous cameo and guest appearances in movies and television series.

Worldwide Pants and other Business Ventures

David Michael Letterman has a production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. For several years, the company produced as well as owned the contents of his highly successful Late Show. Other successful talk shows it has produced include The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn and The Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Among the company’s notable film and TV series production credits are the smash hit sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, Strangers with Candy and The Knights Of Prosperity. Worldwide Pants reportedly had an over $500 million share of the Raymond series revenue. From 1995 to 1996, Letterman also worked as the executive producer of the CBS sitcom series, Bonnie.

Dave is also a co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL), an IndyCar racing team that has recorded numerous victories including two Indy 500 wins. The other owners are Bobby Rahal (former Indianapolis 500 Winner) and Mike Lanigan. Having been recording significant success, IndyStar recently reported that RLL is working on erecting a $20 million state-of-the-art racing headquarters in Zionsville, Indiana.

david_letterman

Although David Letterman’s net worth may not experience significant increase as it did during his career as the late night TV host, he continues to make substantial money from his ongoing Netflix show, screen production, and other side engagements. As of 2020, his net worth sits pretty at an estimated $400 million.

Here’s a quick recap of David Letterman’s annual salaries/earnings through the years:

  • 1980 – $1 million
  • 1981 – $1 million
  • 1992/1993 – $7 million (per annum)
  • 1993-1996 – $14 million (per annum)
  • 1997-2001 – $20 million (per annum)
  • 2002-2006 – $31 million (per annum)
  • 2007 – $40 million (total annual earnings)
  • 2009 – $32 million
  • 2012 – $28 million
  • 2013-2015 – $20 million (per annum)
  • 2015 – $35 million (total yearly earnings)
  • 2018-2020 – $12 million per season of My Next Guest

(The above figures were garnered from reports/estimations by Forbes, Celebrity Net Worth, TV Guide, and CNN)

Letterman’s Real Estate and Automobile Assets

Also forming part of David Letterman’s worth are his host of real estate properties and fleet of cars. The most expensive of his estates is his $10 million 108-acre residence in North Salem, New York. The millionaire Funnyman initially acquired the main residence of 88 acres for $5 million in 1995. He later purchased the estate’s environs of 20 acres for another $5 million in 2007.

David letterman North Salem estate

Letterman also owns a 2,700-acre ranch in Montana, alongside other houses in St. Barth’s, Martha’s Vineyard, and Massachusetts.

As for his fleet, Dave’s garage boasts up to 20 classics with the least of them costing him around $33,000. Among them are a collection of Ferraris, the most expensive of which is a $2.7 million 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO.

The 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO estimated at $2.7 million by Motorbiscuit

A Peek Into David Letterman’s Romantic Life

David Letterman has been involved in quite a number of relationships in the past, while some of them came to public/media notice, others didn’t. However, his most significant relationships started with his college sweetheart, Michelle Cook (b. July 2, 1946). Letterman married Cook on July 2, 1968, in Muncie, Indiana. Unfortunately, this marriage lasted for only nine years, ending in a divorce in October, 1977.

Following his divorce from ex-wife Michelle, David became involved with the former head producer and writer on the Late Night Show, Merrill Markoe (b. August 1948). They lived together from 1978 to 1988 before calling it quits. While their relationship lasted, Markoe influenced and co-wrote several of Letterman’s Late Night contents.

image source Letterman and Lasko

On his third serious relationship, Letterman dated Regina Lasko (b. November 1960). Based on available records, Dave kicked off his relationship with Lasko in February 1986 while he was still dating and living with his then-girlfriend Merril Markoe. Regina later moved in with him after he parted ways with Markoe.

After a 23-year-long romance, Letterman tied the knot with Regina Lasko in a private courthouse ceremony held on March 19, 2003 in Choteau, Montana. Prior to this, the couple had a son in 2003.

Meet Harry Joseph, David Letterman’s Son

image source David and Harry during a casual outing on 2020 New Year’s Day

Harry Joseph Letterman is David Letterman’s first and only child whom he had with his longtime partner, Regina Lasko. Harry was born on the 3rd of November, 2003. David Letterman named him after his father, Harry Joseph Letterman.

When the legendary talk show host took a break from TV, he spent much time with his son whom he regards as his real passion in life, per Today. Meanwhile, Harry keeps a low profile, probably per his parents’ dictates. As of the time of writing this article, he is not yet active on social media.

Profile Summary 
First Name:David

Last Name:Letterman
Estimated Net Worth:
$400 million - $425 million
Salary:Not available
Source of Wealth:His television career, production company, brand endorsements
Last Updated:
2020
Also Known As:
Earl Hofert, Dave, The Big Man
Sex/Gender:
Male
Profession:
Television host, comedian, writer, and producer
Famous For:Serving as a late night talk show host from 1982 to 2015. He is also popular for his late night talk show "Late Night with David Letterman" on NBC
Colleges/Universities Attended:
Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana
Educational Qualifications:
Not available
Religion:
Presbyterian
Birthday & Zodiac
Age/Date of Birth:
April 12, 1947
Zodiac Sign:Aries
Birth Place:
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Nationality:American
Ethnicity/Race:
White
Country of Residence:
USA
Physical Attributes
Height:
6 ft 2 in or 188 cm
Weight:
78 kg or 172 lbs
Eye Colour:
Blue
Hair Color:
Dark Brown
Other Body Measurements:
Chest: 32, waist: 26, hips:32
Relationships
Marital Status:
Married
Spouse/Partner:
Regina Lasko (m. 2009)
Family and Relatives
Father:
Harry Joseph Letterman (April 15, 1915 – February 13, 1973)
Mother:Dorothy Marie Letterman Mengering (née Hofert; July 18, 1921 – April 11, 2017)
Children:
Harry Joseph Letterman
Siblings:Janice Letterman (Older Sister), Gretchen Letterman (Younger Sister)
Other Relatives:
Earl Jacob Hofert Jr. (Maternal Uncle) (Died in 2009), Hazel Hofert (Maternal Aunt) (Died in 2017), Hans Mengering (Stepfather) (Died in 2013), Earl Jacob Hofert (Maternal Grandfather), Lena M. (née Strietelmeier) (Maternal Grandmother), Liam Letterman Shelton (Nephew) (Gretchen’s Son)

Avatar
Chuck Dez
Chuck is a personal finance and entertainment writer with over 15 years of experience covering famous biographies, personal finance, celebrity net worth, and celebrity lifestyles. He loves the process of researching new information, discovering and learning new things, as well as putting into words, interesting things others might like to read. When he's not talking about the future of media, business or entertainment, you'll find him watching films, reading or spending time with his wife and kids

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