'Letterman's' DeForest dies at 85

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NEW YORK -- Calvert DeForest, known to millions of "Late Night With David Letterman" fans as the raspy-voiced Larry "Bud" Melman, died Monday at age 85 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Long Island, N.Y., after a long illness.

DeForest appeared on the first "Late Show With David Letterman" on NBC in 1982 and appeared dozens of times on the New York-based show through its run on NBC until 1993. He often did goofy things on the show, including giving hot towels to commuters at the Port Authority bus terminal.

When Letterman left NBC in 1993, DeForest moved with him. The only thing that changed was the character's name, which became "Calvert DeForest" with the CBS show because NBC claimed ownership over the Melman name. His last appearance was in 2002 on his 81st birthday.

"Everyone always wondered if Calvert was an actor playing a character, but in reality he was just himself, a genuine, modest and nice man," Letterman said Wednesday. "To our staff and to our viewers, he was a beloved and valued part of our show, and we will miss him."

DeForest was born July 23, 1921, in Brooklyn to a doctor father who died when DeForest was 16 and a mother who once worked in theater. He was working at a social-service agency in 1982 when he was called to do an appearance on Letterman's show, which he later called "the greatest thing that had happened in my life."

DeForest appeared as Melman in a 1985 episode of "Saturday Night Live" as well as a handful of small movies. He also appeared in "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" and "Wings" as well as a video for Run-DMC. His movie credits include "Heaven Help Us," "Nothing Lasts Forever" and "First Time."

There won't be a funeral, but the family requests donations made in DeForest's name to the Actor's Fund of America, 729 Seventh Ave., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
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