8 Ways David Letterman Is Enjoying Retirement Way Too Much

RealClear Staff


The Internet went wild when photos appeared of David Letterman jogging in the Caribbean. But he isn't going crazy, he's still on Cloud after retiring less than a year ago. And he'll tell you exactly why in an exclusive interview with the Whitefish Review, a small-town publication in Montana,

1. 'I’ve Developed a Creepy Look I’m Sort of Enjoying'

Dave is going full mountain man, with the bald head (he wore toupees on TV) and grizzly beard. "You know what? I used to say, every day, 'I am so sick and tired of shaving.' I had to shave every day, every day, for 33 years," Dave says. "And even before that when I was working on local TV. And I just thought, the first thing I will do when I am not on TV is stop shaving. And everybody hates it. My wife hates it. My son hates it. But it’s interesting. I’ve kind of developed a real creepy look with it that I’m sort of enjoying. And I can tell that people are off-put by it. And the more people implore me to shave, the stronger my resolve is to not shave.

"I know, it’s not a good-looking beard. But I don’t even care. I just don’t care. ... it’s sort of amusing to see the reactions."

2. He Has 28 Cars in Storage (At Least)

Dave doesn't really talk about it, but public registration records show that he stores 28 cars and two motorcycles in a Danbury, Conn., warehouse. And not just any cars. How about a collection of 10 Ferraris, 8 Porsches, 4 Austin Healeys, a Mercedes-Benz, a Jaguar, MG, 2 Honda motorcycles, and just for fun, a Volvo, Pontiac and a Chevy pickup!

“Some of these cars that I have now are 40 and 50 years old,” Dave says. “When Harry (his son) gets old enough to drive, they will really, really be old. Hopefully, at the reading of the will, he’ll say, ‘Yes! I get that one!’ ”

3. I Don't Miss the TV Show: 'It Was Just Silliness'

"I have always likened it to running a restaurant—because you get response to the day’s endeavor immediately. Either from the audience or the ratings, but you know as early as the next day how you did. And because of this introspection, you believe that what you are doing is of great importance and that it is affecting mankind wall-to-wall. And then when you get out of it you realize, oh, well, that wasn’t true at all. (laughter) It was just silliness. And when that occurred to me, I felt so much better and I realized, geez, I don’t think I care that much about television anymore. I feel foolish for having been misguided by my own ego for so many years.

"I can remember the first day that Stephen Colbert took over. ... I thought I would have some trouble, some emotional trouble, or some feeling of displacement, but I realized, hey, that’s not my problem anymore. And I have felt much better. ... So I haven’t missed it, the way I thought I might. I think, holy crap! I’ll be 69 next year and I’ve been doing this for 33 years. What did I want? Like you work until you’re a hundred? So there’s a lot of practical reasons why a person wouldn’t miss this."

4. ‘Anything that Happens After 10, I’m Not There’

The guy who used to host a late night show can't stay up late himself.

"I’m like the idiots who always used to come up to me—and I knew they were lying…. They’d say, “Yeah, well, geez I can’t stay up late enough to watch your show,” and I’d think, you’re lying, you’re just lying. But I’m like that guy now. I can’t stay up late enough to watch TV. I like to be in bed right around 10. Anything that happens after 10, I’m not there."

5. He Can Devote More Time to His Racing Team

Dave is back behind the wheel as co-owner of his IndyCar racing team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. They won the Indianapolis 500 in 2004 with driver Buddy Rice.

“The birth of my son, my heart surgery, and winning the Indy 500,” Dave says. “Those are the three big ones for me.”

6. in Montana, 'It’s a Never-Ending Education'

Letterman owns a ranch in Montana, one of the many places he owns property. That, too keeps him young.

"The first thing that this experience brought to us is that you just can’t stop seeing once you’re out there. The big sky and all—and for heaven’s sake, it’s true—but also the endless horizon. And we still haven’t gotten over the land. The other neat thing about this was it was like signing up for some extended college course where you began to learn about stuff you never thought about before in your life. Every time we go out there we learn something about the land, about the animals, about the plants, about the trees, about the fires, about the wind, about the weather. It’s a never-ending education."

7. On His Health: ‘My Dad — He’d Be in the Hospital Recovering from a Heart Attack Having a Cigarette’

The jogging photographs have gotten all the attention because of his beard -- but Dave is jogging years after a heart attack and open heart surgery. Modern medicine is great!

"Compared to my father who dropped dead of a massive heart attack when he was 57 — he had a history of heart problems. The advancements that they have made in treating heart disease are remarkable, as I think with all medicine. But when he had his first major heart attack — and he ended up having about six before the one that killed him. ... My dad said, “Um, well, is it all right if I keep smoking?” And the doctor said, “Oh, yeah, that’s not a problem.” And my dad—you’d go to see him in the hospital recovering from a heart attack having a cigarette. Oh my god, really? So I feel that I am awfully lucky not to have had a heart attack (then)."

8. ‘I Jump into Any Body of Water’

What Dave is trying to say is that although he is nearly 70, his 12-year-old son Harry is keeping him young.

"Because of my son I’m not growing up," Dave says. "Because of my son I do things I would have done when I was 12, to show him—look, you can do this. It’s okay. You can do this. Don’t be worried about this. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself. A lot of this is in Montana. A lot of this is skiing or hiking. I have gotten into the habit of jumping into any body of water we come across when we’re hiking in Montana—that as you know, is really too cold for any form of life other than fish. (laughter) You can feel your heart being sucked into your digestive tract. And so I’ll just jump in. Because I want him to know that it’s okay for him to just jump in."

Sounds like good advice for all of us. Happy retirement, Dave!



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