David Letterman’s Net Worth: What Did He Do to Make Money?

In addition to hosting the Late Show with David Letterman, David Letterman is also a comedian, writer, and producer.

David Letterman, the longest-serving late-night talk show host in American television history, hosted 6,080 episodes of Late Night and Late Show, surpassing his mentor and buddy Johnny Carson.

Another aspect of David Letterman’s career is in the production industry. My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman is presently hosted by Letterman on Netflix.

David Letterman Net Worth

Early Life

Letterman was born on April 12, 1947, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to David and Mary Letterman. In addition to his two older sisters, he has one younger sister. Harry and Dorothy Letterman were Harry’s parents, a florist, and a church secretary.

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A heart attack killed his father at the tender age of 57. Letterman was a stock boy at a neighborhood supermarket while attending Broad Ripple High School. In 1969, he received a bachelor’s degree in television and radio from Ball State University.

Early Career

WBST, Ball State’s student-run radio station, employed Letterman as an announcer and newscaster. He was let go for making caustic and amusing comments about classical music in the workplace.

After graduating from high school, he began working as a weatherman for an Indianapolis-based television station. For his unexpected on-air manner and casual comedy, like delivering the weather for made-up cities, he gained a devoted following.

Friends and relatives urged him to go from New York City to Los Angeles in 1975 to pursue a career in comedy writing. He began his stand-up career at The Comedy Store there. By 1978, he had established a network of contacts through stand-up and was contributing material and appearing as a guest star on a variety of smaller acts, TV series, and game shows.

He tried out for the lead role in 1980’s Airplane!, but Robert Hays was cast instead. Eventually, talent scouts for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson saw his sarcasm and caustic wit, and he rapidly became a regular guest on the show and a favorite of Carson. Carson has always been Letterman’s most important mentor.

Late Night Career

NBC gave Dave a morning comedy show on June 23, 1980, which he hosted for one week. Despite its critical acclaim, it was discontinued after just four months on the air. After all that, NBC tried rescheduling his show. Letterman hosted Late Night in February of 1982. Bill Murray was the first visitor.

It aired Monday through Thursday at 12:30 am EDT, following The Tonight Show. Among college students and young people, it garnered a cult following for Dave’s self-deprecating humor, irreverence, and brashness.

In a short period of time, Dave earned a well-deserved reputation as an astute and frank interviewer, and his candor won him a large following of admirers. The show also acquired recognition for its off-the-wall routines including “Stupid Pet Tricks” and Top 10 List segments.

After Johnny Carson’s retirement in 1992, Letterman was widely expected to take over the Tonight Show. In a surprise decision, NBC hired Jay Leno as the new host of The Tonight Show.

Late Show With David Letterman replaced NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:30 p.m. and created a permanent rivalry between the two shows, which will continue to air for decades to come. On August 30, 1993, the musical premiered in New York City’s Ed Sullivan Theater.

Letterman signed a three-year, $14 million-per-year contract with CBS, which is a significant increase from his prior contract at NBC. Letterman tempered his wild and outlandish kind of humor in expectation of a larger, more traditional, and more conservative audience.

David Letterman Net Worth

He introduced Paul Shaffer and his band as a sidekick to the show and expanded the opening speech. He was able to maintain several of his distinctive pieces from his previous show by re-branding them somewhat (i.e., The Top Ten List became The Late Show Top Ten) (i.e., The Top Ten List became The Late Show Top Ten).

Letterman and Leno were fierce rivals for as long as they were on the air, with both of them claiming the top spot on the rating list on a number of occasions.

In his first two decades as a late-night host, Letterman’s shows were enormously successful and well-received, garnering 67 Emmy nominations and 12 wins.

A star-studded farewell episode of Letterman’s show aired on May 20, 2015, which was Letterman’s final episode. Almost 14 million people tuned in. Stephen Colbert was named as Letterman’s successor.

Late Night and Late Show presenter Letterman hosted 6,080 episodes between them. As the longest-running late-night talk show presenter in American television history, he surpassed his mentor and buddy, Johnny Carson.


During his retirement, Letterman has mainly kept a low profile, devoting his time and resources to a variety of interests and causes dear to his heart.

His organization, the Letterman Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming, has provided millions of dollars to non-profits, including the American Cancer Society, Doctors Without Borders, and Ball State University.

Worldwide Pants Incorporated, the company he created in 1991, is still in his possession. His show was produced by this company, which has since gone on to produce a number of others as well.

In 2018, Letterman began presenting a Netflix long-form interview series titled My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, which he began in 2018. President Obama was the first person to arrive. In 2019, the second season premiered.

Personal Life

When physicians noticed a severe blockage in one of Dave’s arteries during a regular checkup in January 2000, they took him to the ER where he underwent quintuple bypass surgery. He used guest hosts for the show while he was getting better.

In 1968, Dave and Michelle Cook, his college sweetheart, got married. After moving to Los Angeles in 1977, they divorced in October of that year. From 1978 to 1988, he was romantically involved with Late Night producer Merrill Markoe. Her impact on his comic style has been widely attributed.

After dating Regina Lasko for a few months in 1986, Letterman and Lasko had a son in 2003. The pair tied the knot in 2009 and now call North Salem, New York home.

During an investigation in 2005, police discovered a conspiracy to abduct his son and demand a $5 million ransom. Letterman’s former house painter was among those charged in the scheme.

Letterman was threatened in 2009 with revealing his relationships with some of his female crew members if he didn’t pay a ransom. Letterman publicly apologized to his wife and crew on his October 5, 2009, broadcast, confirming that these affairs were in fact genuine.

His alcoholism and anxiety have been revealed, and he no longer consumes any alcohol.

David Letterman Net Worth

Real Estate

A real estate tycoon has emerged from Dave’s financial clout. On Martha’s Vineyard and St. Barts, he has a home and a 2,700-acre ranch.

He also has an 88-acre estate (purchased for $5 million in 1994 and $5 million in 2007) in Westchester County, New York. IndyCar team Rahal Letterman Racing, which he co-owns, is one of his many ventures.

David Letterman’s Net Worth and Salary

As a comedian and former talk show presenter, David Letterman has a fortune estimated to be in excess of $400 million. The license and syndication payments Letterman used to make each year easily over $50 million dollars, but that sum has dwindled in recent years.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Does David Do With His Money?

It appears that Dave Letterman has put all of his salary money into real estate and the stock market. He is now one of the world’s richest television hosts because of these shrewd investments.

What Is David Letterman’s Net Worth in 2022?

He has a net worth of $400 million dollars in the United States.

What Is David Letterman’s Height?

He stands 1.87 meters tall at a height of 6’1″ (or 187 cm) in centimeters.

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