I was really saddened tonight to hear about the passing of a true icon of American television. Calvert DeForest, better known as Larry "Bud" Melman of "Late Night With David Letterman" fame, died on Monday after a long illness, at a hospital in Babylon, Long Island. He was 85 years old.
For more on his passing:
I was a huge "Late Night With David Letterman" (much more than his current show) going back to the very beginning in 1982. I never missed a show, and I loved the character of Larry "Bud" Melman. Larry was an older, short, stubby kind of a guy with dark-rimmed glasses and a silly laugh. He always seemed out of place whatever Letterman had him doing, and sometimes they bordered on the ridiculous. I'll never forget the time Dave had him go to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and hand out hot towels to people coming off the buses after their long trips (see the above picture). Something always would go wrong, but I thought Larry was great, and he developed a huge cult following.
I also loved the mock "commercials" he'd do on the show, like for "The Melman Bus Lines." The closing tag line would have him saying, "See where you're going, not where you've been. Ride a Melman Bus." Or the way some Letterman shows would end, with Larry coming on the screen saying, "This has been a Melman production."
Calvert DeForest was born and raised in Brooklyn, and he lived in Bay Ridge while the show was filmed. My uncle was a mailman back then, and he had Calvert on his mail route. My uncle said he was a genuinely nice man, as did David Letterman today in a prepared statement.
When "Late Night With David Letterman" ended and Dave & company went to CBS, Calvert went along, but NBC would not allow them to use the Larry "Bud" Melman character (as they owned the rights to it), so he had to be called by his real name on the new show. He did not appear on the new show much, and his last appearance was in 2002.
We'll never forget Larry "Bud" Melman.
Thanks for the laughs, Mr. DeForest.