David Letterman‘s mom, Dorothy Mengering, who became a late-night celebrity for her coverage of the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics, has died at age 95.
Mengering was best known for appearances on her son’s “Late Show” on CBS, which included Olympic correspondent work.
Mengering was 72 when CBS sent her to cover the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, as Dave’s Mom for the “Late Show.”
In her reporting, Dave’s Mom offered cocoa to figure skater Nancy Kerrigan (twice), sampled cross-country skiing and asked then-First Lady Hillary Clinton if she could take care of Letterman’s speeding tickets.
Dave’s Mom reprised her role in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.
How did it all start? From the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times in 1996:
After [Letterman’s] move to CBS, where he started the Late Show, the network asked him to develop a tie-in with CBS’ coverage of the Winter Olympics. Letterman’s idea was to send his mother to Norway and have her report back via satellite.
“I actually thought this might be something for my mother, and I didn’t know if it was because we had used her on the phone before or what. But, I was surprised that people took to it,” Letterman said. “The best part of it for me was that she got through the three weeks with some dignity. And she was not embarrassed, so that was nice. I was very worried about that.”
Dorothy’s Norway stint was so successful — even President Clinton admitted that he and Hillary Clinton stayed up late to watch her — that Letterman quickly realized his mother was a hot commodity.
While in Norway for the Olympics, Dorothy would often hear folks yell out: “Dave’s Mom, we love you!” But she didn’t consider those words to be fan appreciation. “Actually, it wasn’t so much me as mom, and I personified mom,” she said.
“After Lillehammer, I couldn’t believe how it all took off,” Mengering said in 1996, according to The New York Times. “I think it’s about the idea of mom and of a family.”
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