Alan Kalter, Longtime Voice of Letterman’s ‘Late Show,’ Dies at 78

Alan Kalter, the announcer for the “Late Present With David Letterman” for some 20 years and a participant in a ridiculous array of comedian bits throughout that run, died on Monday at a hospital in Stamford, Conn., the place he lived. He was 78.

The dying was introduced by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman of Temple Beth El in Stamford, the synagogue Mr. Kalter attended. No trigger was given.

Mr. Kalter would welcome viewers with a gap quip (“From New York, house of mad cab illness … ”) and a recitation of the visitor checklist. He would introduce the nonsensical “secret phrase” of the day and inform Mr. Letterman what was to be put to the “Will It Float?” take a look at, a recurring comedian bit. He would work himself right into a lather over this or that and run off down the road shirtless.

However, simply as incongruously, he as soon as sang a heartfelt model of “Ship Within the Clowns” for no specific purpose, bolting offstage afterward overcome with emotion because the viewers stood and applauded. One other time, he turned what at first appeared like some fatherly recommendation about attending the promenade right into a painful confessional about going to the promenade together with his personal mom, “her middle-age physique squeezed like a sausage right into a sequined robe, her make-up and fragrance a merciless mockery of the womanhood your hormones crave.”

His transformation from announcer to all-purpose comedian began early. On his first day, he mentioned, Mr. Letterman, who had an Olympic diver as a visitor, had Mr. Kalter leap right into a pool whereas sporting his finest go well with.

“I’m floating on my again, trying up at the cameraman, going, ‘That is what it’s wish to announce on Letterman,’” he recalled in an interview on CBS New York in 2015, when Mr. Letterman ended the present.

“If you happen to’re going to have a chat present,” Mr. Letterman mentioned on Tuesday in a phone interview, “you’ve obtained to have a robust announcer, and he stuffed that means past what’s required.”

Mr. Kalter changed Invoice Wendell in September 1995, after Mr. Wendell retired. Mr. Letterman mentioned that Mr. Kalter’s audition tape had left little doubt when he and his producer at the time, Robert Morton, heard it.

“It was like, ‘Oh, my God, right here we go,’” Mr. Letterman mentioned.

Mr. Kalter’s voice was already acquainted to tv viewers by then; he had introduced on recreation exhibits like “To Inform the Fact” and “The $25,000 Pyramid” and supplied voice-overs for quite a few commercials. Mr. Letterman’s “Late Present,” although, introduced him a wholly completely different form of fame. His pink hair and rumpled attractiveness made him immediately recognizable, and Mr. Letterman gave him ample alternatives to show his aptitude for each deadpan and over-the-top comedy.

Barbara Gaines, the longtime “Late Present” producer, mentioned Mr. Kalter had match proper into the present’s zaniness.

“Alan would good-naturedly do nearly something we requested of him,” she mentioned by e-mail, “which is how we like our folks.”

Mr. Kalter mentioned that he had at all times been given the choice of declining to do a very nutty stunt or asking that it’s modified, however Mr. Letterman remembered him as being perpetually recreation.

“I don’t recall the man ever saying no to something,” he mentioned, “and I suppose that tells us one thing about his judgment.”

And, he added, “it wasn’t begrudgingly — it was, ‘I’m all in.’”

However Mr. Letterman additionally famous that, for him, Mr. Kalter and his music director, Paul Shaffer, had been steadying influences.

“He and Paul, to me, they had been fixtures each evening,” he mentioned. “You’d look over and see Alan and see Paul and know that it’s going to be OK similar to final evening.”

Company, too, discovered Mr. Kalter to be a chilled pressure.

“Showing with Dave triggered its personal distinctive set of nerves,” Brian Williams, a frequent “Late Present” visitor, mentioned on Monday evening on his MSNBC information program. “However seeing the smiling face of a pleasant man like Alan Kalter backstage was at all times the tonic wanted in that second.”

The present might have made Mr. Kalter a celeb, however he stored a low profile when off the set and at house in Stamford, the place he had lived because the Nineteen Seventies.

“I performed playing cards in a poker group for a yr and a half,” he instructed The Stamford Advocate in 2003, “earlier than someone mentioned, ‘Anyone instructed me you had been in broadcasting.’”

As for his “Letterman” job, Mr. Kalter was grateful for the chance and the long term.

“I cherished what they let me be,” he instructed The Pulteney Street Survey, the journal of Hobart and William Smith Schools, the place he was as soon as a scholar, “a 10-year-old, paid for doing stuff my mother would by no means have let me get away with.”

Alan Robert Kalter was born on March 21, 1943, in Brooklyn. He began saying on WGVA radio in Geneva, N.Y., whereas at Hobart. The radio job had a fringe profit.

“In my off hours,” he mentioned, “I’d create the music tapes for all our fraternity events from the 45’s that got here in to the radio station.”

After graduating in 1964 he studied regulation at New York College, then taught highschool English for 3 years, at the identical time recording instructional tapes and dealing weekends in radio within the New York suburbs. The pull of radio finally proved irresistible.

“I left educating for a day radio present at WTFM,” he instructed the school journal, “and was employed to be a newsman at WHN Radio in New York, which shortly turned a four-year gig interviewing celebs who got here into city for film and Broadway openings, in addition to overlaying nightclub openings three or 4 nights every week.”

When WHN went to a rustic format in 1973, he turned to creating commercials, after which obtained into recreation exhibits.

He’s survived by his spouse, Peggy; a brother, Gary; two daughters, Lauren Hass and Diana Binger; and 5 grandchildren.

Mr. Kalter’s do-almost-anything dedication to “Late Present,” Mr. Letterman mentioned, was a pleasant counterpoint to Mr. Letterman’s extra laid-back fashion.

“I by no means appreciated to placed on humorous hats,” he mentioned. “Alan would gown like a Martian and make it work.”

“He stuffed in so many blanks on that present,” Mr. Letterman added, joking, “he most likely deserved extra money.”

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