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Dave's mom

Dave's mom

Top 10 List

Fun facts Dave's mom shares in her new book:

"Home Cookin' with Dave's Mom" ($20, Pocket Books, 1996)

10. Her recipe for homemade window cleaner.

9. Dave likes mustard on his eggs.

8. You can get rid of noisy crickets in your home by placing a "hedge" apple

(fruit from a decorative shrub called Osage orange) in the corner of the

invaded room.

7. She recently bought a bread maker for Dave, so he could enjoy the taste

of fresh bread anytime, even when Mom's home in the Hoosier state.

6. Of her three children, she says Dave was the pickiest eater when it came

to vegetables. She said he particularly did not like spinach and asparagus, so

she would "disguise them" with "lots of cheese and butter."

5. The last time she had all three of her children at home in Indiana was

Thanksgiving 1988.

4. In 1994, since Dave couldn't make it home for Thanksgiving, he sent

Richard Simmons in his place for a taped segment of the show. Simmon's brought

Dave back his favorite pie, sour cherry, and presented it to him on air from

his mom.

3. As a teen, Dave worked at Atlas grocery store in Carmel, Ind., as a stock

boy, carry-out clerk and cashier.

2. Dave's favorite snack is fried baloney sandwiches.

And the number one fun fact from Dave's Mom...

1. She decided not to have Dave's famous front-teeth gap fixed as a child

because, even then, she thought it was part of his personality.

Dorothy Letterman isn't even trying to guess what her son will give her for

Mother's Day this year.

"His gifts are always a surprise, but he never forgets a special occasion,"

said Dorothy, whose married name is now Mengering.

"David is a good boy."

Dorothy, 76, has reached celebrity status since her talk show host son began

featuring her on his show as his "special correspondent."

In 1994, she reported from the snows of Lillehammer, Norway, as Dave's

correspondent for the Winter Olympic games.

Now, she's back at her Hoosier home in Carmel, Ind., baking pies, sewing and

hosting local garden club meetings from her house.

"I have plenty to keep me busy," Dorothy said.

"I'm really a home body."

For the past year, Dorothy has been busy participating in charity events as

part of her campaign to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children in

Indianapolis and the Kiwanis' international research fund for Iodine Deficiency


On April 21, Dorothy put on her comfortable walking shoes, grabbed her felt

pens and spent the day at Sander's Super Value grocery store in Monticello,

Ind., signing copies of her new cookbook "Home Cookin' with Dave's Mom" ($20,

Pocket Books 1996).

A guest of the Monticello Kiwanis, Dorothy signed more than 500 books in a

two-hour span, with all proceeds going to the charitable organizations of her


"She always personalizes every book autograph, even though it means she has

a sore arm the next day," said Dorothy's 73-year-old husband, Hans Mengering,

whom she married in 1983. Dorothy's first husband, Dave's father Joe, died in


David Letterman's mother has a specific reason for signing books in a small

town grocery store rather than conduct a national book tour to bolster sales.

"The reason I'm here today is because of all of the things the Kiwanis do to

help children," said Dorothy, a very, quiet, soft-spoken, unassuming lady.

Because of her modest demeanor, the only thing that distinguished David

Letterman's mom from the hundreds of women gathered to meet her at last week's

signing was a pale-pink carnation corsage fastened to the lapel of her taupe


"By spending the day doing this, I know that the proceeds are going to help

children locally and from around the world," she said.

"I've had a lot of requests from around the state and other areas to do

signings. But I'd just be too busy. I like to have time for myself."

Dorothy said even her occasions for doing remotes are limited at her own


"Yes, it is fun to go to New York once in a while or to see David's

satellite truck come pulling up in our driveway," she said.

"But this isn't something I want to do a lot. I do all of this for David,

because he's such a good son. If it helps him, than I want to do it."

Hans said Dave is a lot like his mother when it comes to helping others. He

said each year, Dave anonymously helps many organizations for children and

other special interests groups.

Dave, who will turn 50 this year, also has two sisters Janice, 53, and

Gretchen, 41, who both are married and have children.

Dorothy said one of the highlights of appearing on her son's show was her

trip to Norway in 1994 to serve as an on-location correspondent.

"When he asked me to do it, I didn't really know what to expect," she said.

"Everyone in Norway was so nice and it was so clean. I still missed Indiana.

Everyone used either snowmobiles or cross-county skis to get around. I tried

cross-country skiing, but I wasn't very good."

Dorothy said the first interview she ever did was with First Lady Hillary


"That was kind of like being thrown into the swimming pool and being told to

swim," she said.

"But she was a very nice person, easy to talk to. It was just like talking

to a neighbor."

Dorothy said when she's being filmed live talking to her son via satellite,

she never gets nervous.

"It's just me talking to my son," she said.

"I forget about all of the cameras and the worry."

She said the appeal and popularity of her repeated appearances on her son's

show has nothing to do with publicity and hype.

"I think it's something much more simple," she said.

"I think America loves the idea of 'the mother.' And I think people like to

see a mother and a son who have a good relationship."

She said the son she knows off the air is not the sardonic, clowning

interviewer viewers expect to see when they tune into "The Late Show Starring

David Letterman" on CBS.

"David is the kindest, most caring person there is," she said.

"When's he's on the air, he just wants to make people laugh."

Dorothy said she watches her son's show faithfully and is never shocked by

what she sees, whether it's a provocative-mood Madonna or over-the-top pet


"It's only a show," she said.

"And it's all intended to be in fun."

She said her favorite guests include Dan Rather, Vice President Al Gore,

Barbara Walters and Mary Tyler Moore.

"There's so many good people he's interviewed, it's hard to pick my

favorites," she said.

"Richard Simmons is always fun. One time, Dave sent him to my house to help

me in the kitchen with my cooking. It wasn't easy with all of the wires and

cables from the filming, but we still had fun."

She said, her son, like herself, is also a strong supporter of the Hoosier


Last Friday, he featured a show from The Ed Sullivan Theater in New York

that was comprised entirely of Indiana audience members and stage guests.

"Dave has a lot of strong Indiana roots," she said.

"If you get a copy of my cookbook, you'll see it actually is also a family

scrapbook. A lot of family photographs and history. It's all in there."


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