"Maybe that's the purpose of television. You just turn it on and watch it whether you want to or not." - David Letterman
March 8, 2010 5:15 PM   Subscribe

After getting his start as a DJ on Ball State's WAGO-FM, David Letterman spent most of the 1970s appearing in a lot of cheesy television, exhaustively chronicled here. Whether kayaking on the Battle of the Network Stars, appearing on an ill-fated variety show with Mary Tyler Moore, working as a panelist on The Love Experts, or hosting a game-show pilot for The Riddlers (part 1, 2, and 3), Letterman more than paid his dues. posted by jonp72 (12 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Seriously, check out Cosell's totally chauvinist commentary on that kayak race. "how does she hold her own as a girl against Bill Shatner?" Its like a stream of terrible comments. Saying Tim Reid does not like the water? Why's that Cosell?
posted by Ironmouth at 5:23 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Man, I LOVED battle of the network stars when I was a kid. With all the reality tv now, why don't they bring that back?
posted by empath at 6:00 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by kimota at 6:12 PM on March 8, 2010

Waitasec. Sometimes I hate the past tense.
posted by kimota at 6:20 PM on March 8, 2010

I remember seeing that Mork & Mindy episode. I didn't realize that was Before He Was A Star. I thought he was just doing some TV.
posted by DU at 6:21 PM on March 8, 2010

In case people don't get the reference, Letterman is spoofing EST founder Werner Erhard in that Mork and Mindy bit.
posted by empath at 6:27 PM on March 8, 2010

I have the proud honor of having watched Dave as a weatherman for one of the Indianapolis TV stations. Even then, the tongue was planted firmly in-cheek.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:03 PM on March 8, 2010

Sometime, Letterman had a show where he did a number on racism. It had to do with sorting black and white balls -- I recall him showing this early on the Late Night Letterman show. He was proud of it. I suppose it was good back whenever it was done, 70s, 80s -- I doubt 60s, but he had a right to point it out. It was good. That was when he was good. For a little while. Then he had the Leno thing and got sour. I recall Sandra Bernhard telling him, "You used to be funny." And he was, once, before he became a self-absorbed asshole.
posted by CCBC at 3:09 AM on March 9, 2010

He also did a morning show for four months in 1980.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:38 AM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Steve Martin interview from the morning show.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:42 AM on March 9, 2010

I was horrified to learn that Mary Tyler Moore had at one time attempted a variety show of some kind.
posted by blucevalo at 8:48 AM on March 9, 2010

Don't forget that Letterman was also a regular on the short-lived variety show hosted by the Starland Vocal Band; sadly, I've yet to find any clips on YouTube of this show.
posted by stannate at 10:39 AM on March 9, 2010

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