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David Letterman’s Long-Time Partner Dies

Alan Robert Kalter (March 21, 1943 – October 4, 2021) was an American television announcer from New York City.

He is best known as the announcer for the Late Show with David Letterman, a role he held from September 5, 1995 until Letterman’s retirement on May 20, 2015. He also hosted Alan Kalter’s Celebrity Interview that ran concurrently with The Late Show.

Kalter, nicknamed “Big Red” and “TV’s Uncle Jerry” by Letterman, began his stint as the “voice” of the Late Show with David Letterman on September 5, 1995, replacing the retiring Bill Wendell.

He announced the guests at the top of each show and the one-liner during the Worldwide Pants title card after the credits and regularly acted in comedic sketches.

Kalter did hundreds of voiceovers for national radio and television commercials and was also the lead continuity voice for the USA Network throughout much of the 1980s (his voice was still heard on USA into the mid-2010s for the network’s paid programming disclaimer, until a universal disclaimer for all NBCUniversal Cable Networks was instituted in 2017). He voiced promos for SportsChannel America in the early 1990s.

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Alan Kalter during his time on the Late Show with David Letterman by CBS

Previously, he had been the announcer for many New York-based television shows, including To Tell the Truth, The $25,000 Pyramid, The Money Maze, and The $128,000 Question.

All of those series (except The Money Maze) were taped at some point in the Ed Sullivan Theater, where the Late Show is now produced.

Additionally, episodes of Truth announced by Kalter were taped in NBC Studio 6A, where Letterman later originated Late Night.

Kalter would replace Bill Wendell as announcer on both Truth and the Late Show. Kalter was also the announcer for the 45th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, held in New York in 2003.

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Late Show

On the Late Show, Kalter regularly performed in scripted comedy bits in addition to his announcing duties. He was often portrayed alternately as a sexual deviant (often while grinning mischievously) or as a powerless sap who was beaten to within an inch of his life and left rolling on the ground writhing in pain. He was also often compelled to arbitrarily sing, rant in hysteria, or disrobe as he walked offstage. In many of the sketches, Kalter’s antics left host David Letterman in a state of amusement, disgust, or total confusion.

Personal life

Kalter was born in Brooklyn in 1943 and raised in Little Neck and Cedarhurst, New York. He was an English and Public Speaking teacher at Baldwin High School on Long Island in the late 1960s and was also the voice of the Michelin Man. He attended Hobart College in Geneva, New York, and began his broadcasting career on local radio stations.

Kalter lived in Stamford, Connecticut. After his longtime marriage to Carol Cepler ended in divorce, he married Peggy Masterson in 2003 (his second marriage).

Kalter died at Stamford Hospital on October 4, 2021, at age 78.

 

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