Calvert DeForest





7/23/1921 , Brooklyn, New York



Birth Name

Calvert Lewis DeForest, Jr.




New York-based character actor Calvert DeForest was perhaps best known for his role as Larry "Bud" Melman on Late Night with David Letterman.

When he was young, DeForest had expressed an interest in acting, but his mother was not pleased with the idea of her son not having a "real job", so he went to work as clerk at Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals. When his mother passed away, he began to do volunteer work at small local theaters.

It was his appearance in a student project at New York University's film school called "King of the Z's" that caught the attention of the "Late Night" producers and of David Letterman. They were so impressed with his deadpan delivery and frumpy appearance that they wanted to meet with him immediately. When a limousine was sent to bring him to a meeting with Letterman and his staff, DeForest thought it was a joke.

Having been given the stage name "Larry 'Bud' Melman," he delivered the opening line of the very first broadcast of Late Night on February 1st, 1982. His opening presentation was a parody of the prologue of the Boris Karloff horror classic "Frankenstein" and was as follows:

"Good evening. Certain NBC executives feel it would be unkind to present this show without a word of friendly warning. We are about to unfold a show featuring David Letterman, a man of science who sought to create a show after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you don't care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now is your chance to ... well, we warned you." From that moment, a legend was born.

The character he had created with David Letterman was little more than a visual punch line with no comedic skills whatsoever, but that is what made him memorable and lovable. Over the years, Calvert parlayed that fame into numerous movie and television appearances, commercial work for many major companies such as AT&T, Doritos, and 1-800-Collect, as well as appearing in music videos such as "King of Rock" by Run DMC. For a brief time in the mid-1980s, he toured his "Ask Mr. Melman" bit on college campuses.

Although Calvert DeForest followed David Letterman and the show to CBS in 1993, the character name of "Larry 'Bud' Melman" remained the intellectual property of NBC and could no longer be used. He continued to work with Letterman for several years after the move to CBS. In a repeat of sorts of his NBC introduction of the new show in 11 years earlier, DeForest introduced the new CBS show by sticking his face into the center of the CBS eye logo and announcing "This is CBS!" just before the opening theme plays for the first time.

As time went on, Calvert's failing health prevented him from making as many appearances as he used to do. He made his last proper appearance in 2002, when his 81st birthday was celebrated onstage, and a year later he made a brief, wordless cameo. On March 19th, 2007 Mr. DeForest passed away of natural causes. At his request, there was no funeral service held. He had no surviving relatives.