Calvert DeForest

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Calvert Grant DeForest (July 23, 1921 – March 19, 2007), also known by his character Larry "Bud" Melman, was an American actor and comedian, best known for his appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and the Late Show with David Letterman.



Early life

Little has been published about his early life. He was born to Calvert Martin DeForest, M.D., a physician who died in 1949, and Mabelle (Taylor) DeForest.[1] He was the cousin of actor DeForest Kelley of Star Trek fame, and Bebe Daniels, one of the few silent film stars who survived the introduction of sound. Radio pioneer Lee DeForest was Bebe Daniels second cousin; it's not clear exactly how closely related he was to Calvert.

DeForest attended Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, New York. He worked for many years for the large pharmaceutical company Parke Davis, which was later acquired by Pfizer. He had aspirations of acting but was discouraged by his mother, herself an actress briefly. After her death in 1961, DeForest did some part time backstage work which eventually led to some acting work.

Work with David Letterman

He is credited with four films from 1972 to 1982 and, after his first appearance with David Letterman, appeared in fifteen other films or television shows.[2]

The Associated Press noted: "DeForest's gnomish face was the first to greet viewers when Letterman's NBC show debuted on February 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."[3]

The Melman character also opened Letterman's first CBS show under his own name, but as essentially the same character, when Letterman moved from NBC to CBS in 1993. The name change was made because the character of "Larry 'Bud' Melman" was considered the intellectual property of NBC, even though David Letterman gave him the name. Melman also appeared as "Kenny The Gardner". He continued to appear on Letterman's show until his 81st birthday in 2002 before retiring from acting. DeForest often "drew laughs by his bizarre juxtaposition as a Late Show correspondent at events such as the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway and the Woodstock anniversary concert that year."[3] One of DeForest's more memorable skits came on Letterman's May 13, 1994 show. The host stated Johnny Carson would announce the evening's Top 10 list, at which point DeForest, as Melman, appeared as "Johnny Carson." On DeForest's exit, the real Johnny Carson appeared in what would prove Carson's last television appearance. DeForest was also noted for his remote interviews in which he would ask the interviewee a question, but pitch the microphone to the interviewee too quickly, resulting in a fade out of the last part of the question.

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