Well I was a little shock when I heard the news that Larry ‘Bud’ Melman had taken his Final Taxi this week. Yeah he was an older gentleman and it was his time but seeing this took me back to the early days for the David Letterman show. This was the days of Larry “Bud”, Chris Elliot, Edie McClurg , stupid pet tricks and when Paul Schaeffer had hair.
I was a fan of Letterman when he had a weekday “morning” show on NBC. So when he moved over to the late night spot I was one of the first to see the opening of his first show in which a strange looking older man came on and said in a nasal voice “Certain NBC executives feel it would be unkind to present this show without a friendly word of warning.” We would come to know and love this man as Larry ‘Bud’ Melman. His real name was Calvert DeForest. It was his loopy incomprehension and utter lack of acting skills that played well in the late night gonzo skits. Over two decades, DeForest introduced himself with a stone-faced lack of irony as Neil Diamond, Bob Dole, Barbra Streisand, and Roy Orbison, whom he really did resemble. He dressed as a chicken and as a bear. He was hurled through a foam-rubber mockup of the Berlin Wall, undertook a private goodwill tour to Mexico and covered the Winter Olympics.
Then in 1993, when Mr. Letterman moved to CBS from NBC, he was forced to leave the “Larry ‘Bud’ Melman” character behind as intellectual property. But Mr. Letterman brought DeForest along, henceforth identifying him by his given name. DeForest kicked off the very first episode of “The Late Show with David Letterman,” appearing in place of the circle in the network’s eye logo and squawking, “This is CBS!”
I remember through the years seeing DeForest in Mtv music videos and on commercials hocking cereal and pizza.
It was my pleasure at one of the World Series games running into DeForest. He was a kind and gentle man. He did have a bodyguard with him but still had to time to talk with me and was in no hurry to leave. I felt like I was talking to an old uncle that I never met before at a family reunion.
Larry “Bud” ( DeForest) had been absent from the public eye due to a long illness, but he was not forgotten by those of us who he entertained.
Calvert DeForest was 85.
~ The Final Taxi
(This weeks podcast will highlight some of Larry Bud’s comedy.)