I spent much of my high school and college years amazed by the way that LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN was revolutionizing television. Those of you only familiar with the CBS-ized Letterman of the LATE SHOW reign have only seen a watered-down version of the man, not the guy who challenged his viewers and changed the rules of TV talk shows. Not that Letterman isn't still a marvelous broadcaster on occasion--he certainly is when he's in the mood--but during the 1980's, a time in which NBC's prime-time lineup had to struggle just to stay a respectable third place, he and Johnny Carson were responsible for the most entertaining late-night lineup in television history.
Calvert DeForest passed away this week at the age of 85. As "Larry 'Bud' Melman," DeForest was part of LATE NIGHT's coterie of supporting players and the most unusual, mainly because you could never be quite sure how much of Melman was schtick and how much was DeForest's own personality. I'm not sure we'll ever know. What we do know is that, intentionally or not, he was funny.
There's nothing I could write that would improve upon Ken Cancelosi's piece, "The Last Amateur," over at Matt Zoller Seitz's blog, The House Next Door. Not only will you read a nice tribute to DeForest, but you can also click links to some of his best bits, including the night he had Dave practically crying from laughter. Enjoy.