Aside from David Letterman himself, one of the most recognizable and loved facets of his hosting stints on Late Night and The Late Show was his mother, Dorothy Mengering. From her first appearance during the former’s “Take Your Parents to Work” themed show, to her frequent guest spots for the latter’s “Guess the Pie” games on Thanksgiving, Dave’s mom quickly became the television mother (or grandmother) for successive generations of late night audiences. Which is why we’re so sad to note that, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Dorothy Mengering passed away on Tuesday at the age of 95.
In his recently released book Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night, author Jason Zinoman notes Dorothy “didn’t become a regular character on [Late Night], however, until June 1990, when her son called her on the air for help with a Top Ten List. She read the top ten things found in her refrigerator.” After the seemingly random appearance’s wild success, Letterman began calling his mother more often before ultimately putting her on the show itself — especially during his Late Show years at CBS.
According to a post-retirement interview with Indianapolis Monthly in 2015, Letterman revealed his mother had suffered a stroke just a few weeks prior. “She had a stroke a couple of weeks ago, but she’s fine,” he said before adding one of his signature self-deprecating jokes: “If I had a stroke, I’d be hospitalized for the rest of my life.” Whether or not her death was a result of complications from the 2015 stroke, however, remain to be seen.
Whether you were a big fan of Dorothy, otherwise known as “Dave’s Mom,” or were never able to catch her many appearances on Late Night and The Late Show, YouTube offers a treasure trove of clips for both. Like one of Mengering’s many Thanksgiving appearances during the CBS years, when she and Letterman would banter with each other while playing “Guess the Pie”: