David Letterman

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David Letterman : biography

April 12, 1947 –

Stalker

Beginning in May 1988, Letterman was stalked by Margaret Mary Ray, a woman suffering from schizophrenia. She stole his Porsche, camped out on his tennis court, and repeatedly broke into his house. Her exploits drew national attention, with Letterman occasionally joking about her on his show, although he never referred to her by name. After she committed suicide in October 1998, Letterman told the New York Times that he had great compassion for her, and publicly expressed sympathy.

Extortion attempt and revelation of affairs

On his October 1, 2009, show, Letterman announced that he had been the victim of an extortion attempt by someone threatening to reveal that he had sex with several of his female employees, and at the same time, he confirmed that he had such relationships. He stated that three weeks earlier (on September 9, 2009) someone had left a package in his car with material he said he would write into a screenplay and a book if Letterman did not pay him $2 million. Letterman said that he contacted the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, ultimately cooperating with them to conduct a sting operation involving giving the man a phony check. Subsequently, Robert J. "Joe" Halderman, a producer of the CBS true crime journalism series 48 Hours, was arrested after trying to deposit the check. He was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury and pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted grand larceny on October 2, 2009. Eventually, on March 9, 2010, he pleaded guilty to this same felony and served a 6-month jail sentence, followed by probation and community service.

A central figure in the case and one of the women Letterman had a sexual relationship with was his longtime personal assistant Stephanie Birkitt, who often appeared with him on his show. She had also worked for 48 Hours. Until a month prior to the revelations, she had shared a residence with Halderman, who allegedly had copied her personal diary and used it, along with private emails, in the blackmail package.

On October 3, 2009, a former CBS employee, Holly Hester, announced that she and Letterman had engaged in a year-long "secret" affair in the early 1990s while she was his intern and a student at New York University.

In the days following the initial announcement of the affairs and the arrest, several prominent women, including Kathie Lee Gifford, co-host of NBC’s Today Show, and NBC news anchor Ann Curry questioned whether Letterman’s affairs with subordinates created an unfair working environment. A spokesman for Worldwide Pants said that the company’s sexual harassment policy did not prohibit sexual relationships between managers and employees. According to business news reporter Eve Tahmincioglu, "CBS suppliers are supposed to follow the company’s business conduct policies" and the CBS 2008 Business Conduct Statement states that "If a consenting romantic or sexual relationship between a supervisor and a direct or indirect subordinate should develop, CBS requires the supervisor to disclose this information to his or her Company’s Human Resources Department…"

On October 5, 2009, Letterman devoted a segment of his show to a public apology to his wife and staff. Three days later, Worldwide Pants announced that Birkitt had been placed on a "paid leave of absence" from the Late Show. On October 15, CBS News announced that the company’s Chief Investigative Correspondent, Armen Keteyian, had been assigned to conduct an "in-depth investigation" into Halderman’s blackmail of Letterman.

Early life and career

David Michael Letterman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. His father, Harry Joseph Letterman (April 15, 1915 – February 13, 1973),Record of Harry Letterman, Social Security Death Index was a florist of English descent; his mother Dorothy Letterman (née Hofert, now Dorothy Mengering), a church secretary of German descent, has been an occasional figure on the show, usually at holidays and birthdays.