Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Calvert "Larry "Bud" Melman" DeForest Dead at 85

Today brings the sad news that Calvert DeForest, who played Larry "Bud" Melman on Late Night with David Letterman has died at age 85. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

NEW YORK - Calvert DeForest, the white-haired, bespectacled nebbish who gained cult status as the oddball Larry "Bud" Melman on David Letterman's late night television shows, has died after a long illness. The Brooklyn-born DeForest, who was 85, died Monday at a hospital on Long Island, Letterman's "Late Show" announced Wednesday.

He made dozens of appearances on Letterman's shows from 1982 through 2002, handling a variety of twisted duties: dueting with Sonny Bono on "I Got You, Babe," doing a Mary Tyler Moore impression during a visit to Minneapolis, handing out hot towels to arrivals at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

"Everyone always wondered if Calvert was an actor playing a character, but in reality he was just himself — a genuine, modest and nice man," Letterman said in a statement. "To our staff and to our viewers, he was a beloved and valued part of our show, and we will miss him."

The gnomish DeForest was working as a file clerk at a drug rehabilitation center when show producers, who had seen him in a New York University student's film, came calling.

He was the first face to greet viewers when Letterman's NBC show debuted on Feb. 1, 1982, offering a parody of the prologue to the Boris Karloff film "Frankenstein." "It was the greatest thing that had happened in my life," he once said of his first Letterman appearance.

DeForest, or Melman, was an unintentional comedic genius. His awkwardness was hilarious and charming, and Letterman was smart enough to simply get out of the way and let the magic happen. The appearances as Dave's on -site correspondent at various events was comedy gold. You couldn't have planned a character like that and gotten away with it, it simply would have been too contrived. But DeForest, a true non-professional entertainer, somehow made it work just by being himself. Here's to you Calvert/Larry!

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