Alan Kalter, the announcer who introduced Late Show With David Letterman for nearly two decades, has died, as Variety reports. He was 78. He died Monday at Stamford Hospital in Connecticut.
Kalter began his stint as Letterman’s announcer in September 1995 replacing Bill Wendell after he retired. Kalter served in the position until it ended with Letterman’s final Late Night show on May 20th, 2015.
While his primary duties were to introduce the host and guests each night, Kalter became a regular contributor to nightly comedy sketches. He hosted Alan Kalter’s Celebrity Interview, which were scheduled to take place in his announcer booth. His interviews, however, would always be upstaged by Letterman. A cantankerous Kalter would argue with Letterman about him stealing his hard-to-book big guests before his interviews would air.
“When our announcer of 15 years Bill Wendell retired, producer Robert Morton came to my office with an audio tape containing auditions for several announcers,” Letterman said in a statement. “Alan’s was the first and only voice we listened to. We knew he would be our choice.
“Whatever else, we always had the best announcer in television,” he added. “Wonderful voice and eagerness to play a goofy character of himself. Did I mention he could sing? Yes he could. He enthusiastically did it all. A very sad day, but many great memories.”
With fiery hair that earned Kalter the name “Big Red,” he looked to be always up for the gag, to the amusement of Letterman and the crew. “To us Late Show writers Alan was so much more than just the ‘From New York…’ guy. He was our muse.” former Late Show writer Carter Bays posted on Twitter. “We loved writing for him. Such a cheerful presence on the show. And around the office. Rest easy Big Red.”
Kalter’s commanding voice brought him several gigs beyond Late Night. He was the voice of USA Network and also appeared on Letterman’s Worldwide Pants-produced NBC series Ed. He delivered voiceovers for radio and television spots and he also served as the announcer for New York-based shows To Tell the Truth, The $25,000 Pyramid and The $100,000 Question.