David Letterman had several taped auditions to listen to when he was looking for a new announcer for his nightly CBS show. But he stopped after the first. "We knew he would be our choice," Letterman said in a statement. His pick was Alan Kalter, who would go on to introduce the host from 1995 to 2015, when Late Show With David Letterman went off the air. Kalter died Monday at a hospital in Connecticut, Rolling Stone reports. He was 78. "A very sad day, but many great memories," Letterman noted.
Kalter wasn't sure he'd take the job, per the Hollywood Reporter. He worried that it would limit his ability to do commercials; he did hundreds, including providing the voice of the Michelin Man. He also was the announcer for game shows such as To Tell the Truth and the $25,000 Pyramid. Kalter said his family made the decision. "My kids, who were in high school at the time, sort of immediately in chorus said, 'Dad, this is the first cool thing you've ever done in your life. Take it!'" The job was introducing Letterman, but Kalter quickly broadened his role. On his first show, Letterman threw him into a pool.
Kalter became a regular in sketches, doing Alan Kalter's Celebrity Interview and generally playing a "goofy character of himself," as Letterman said. Often called "Big Red" on the show, Kalter would sometimes fake anger, pulling his shirt off and stomping off the stage, per CNN. To the writers, as one tweeted, "Alan was so much more than just the 'From New York...' guy. He was our muse." Carter Bays also called him "such a cheerful presence on the show." As the show was ending its run, Kalter talked about the afternoon respite from life while taping. "Every one of us goes through a terrible time once in a while, before 3 o'clock, before 4 o'clock," he said in a 2015 interview. "No matter what my day is like, [from] 4:30 to 5:30, I laugh, I smile, every day." (Read more obituary stories.)