Calvert DeForest (July 23, 1921 – March 19, 2007), also known by his character Larry “Bud” Melman, was an American actor and comedian, best known for his appearances on Late Night with David Letterman and the Late Show with David Letterman.
Calvert DeForest as Larry “Bud” Melman giving hot towels out at the Port Authority as people get off the bus. Nov. 16, 1983
Late Night with David Letterman, Custom Made Show #2 (1984). Dave puts Larry in a bear suit and sends him down the hall to get change.
David Letterman pays tribute to the late Calvert Deforest (aka Larry “Bud” Melman)
Little has been published about his early life. He was born to Calvert Martin DeForest, M.D., a physician who died in 1949, and Mabelle (Taylor) DeForest. He was a cousin of actor DeForest Kelley of Star Trek fame, and Bebe Daniels, a silent film star who survived the introduction of sound. Radio pioneer Lee De Forest was Daniels’s second cousin. The exact family connection of Lee De Forest to Calvert DeForest is unclear.
DeForest attended Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, New York. He worked for many years for the large pharmaceutical company Parke Davis, which was later acquired by Pfizer. He had aspirations of acting but was discouraged by his mother, who was briefly an actress herself. After her death in 1969, DeForest did part-time backstage work, which eventually led to acting work.
Work with David Letterman
He is credited with four films from 1972 to 1982 and, after his first appearance with David Letterman, appeared in 15 other films or television shows.
The Associated Press noted: “DeForest’s gnomish face was the first to greet viewers when Letterman’s NBC show debuted on February 1, 1982, offering a parody of the prologue to the Boris Karloff film Frankenstein. ‘It was the greatest thing that had happened in my life,’ he once said of his first Letterman appearance.”
The Melman character also opened Letterman’s first CBS show under his own name, but as essentially the same character, when Letterman moved from NBC to CBS in 1993. The name change was made because the character of “Larry ‘Bud’ Melman” was considered the intellectual property of NBC. Melman also appeared as “Kenny The Gardener”. He continued to appear on Letterman’s show until his 81st birthday in 2002 before retiring from acting. DeForest often “drew laughs by his bizarre juxtaposition as a Late Show correspondent at events such as the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway and the Woodstock anniversary concert that year.” One of DeForest’s more memorable skits came on Letterman’s May 13, 1994, show. The host stated Johnny Carson would announce the evening’s Top 10 list, at which point DeForest, as Melman, appeared as “Johnny Carson.” On DeForest’s exit, the real Johnny Carson appeared in what would prove Carson’s last television appearance. DeForest was also noted for his remote interviews in which he would ask the interviewee a question, but pitch the microphone to the interviewee too quickly, resulting in a fade out of the last part of the question.
Letterman noted after DeForest’s death: “Everyone always wondered if Calvert was an actor playing a character, but in reality he was just himself: a genuine, modest and nice man. To our staff and to our viewers, he was a beloved and valued part of our show, and we will miss him.” When asked how he’d like to be remembered, DeForest responded “Just being able to make people laugh and knowing people enjoyed my humor. I also hope I haven’t offended anyone through the years.”
He was co-host (in charge of the digital switcher) on the local SF Bay Area radio program, 10@10, on KFOG-FM with Dave Morey.
In 1985, he appeared in the music video for the Run-DMC song “King of Rock” as a security guard.
In 1989, he appeared in the Special Ed video for the song “Think About it” as the villainous Dr. Norecords.
In 1994, he wrote a humor book called Cheap Advice.
In the late 1990s, he often appeared in various television ads including ones for Tropicana Twister, 1-800-Collect and Little Caesars.
DeForest also appeared on the hit albums Americana and Ixnay on the Hombre by The Offspring, doing some of the voices that can be heard before and after certain tracks. In late March 2007, a 20-minute clip of DeForest recording the voices for their album was posted on The Offspring’s website.
He appeared at Woodstock 1994 to announce Nine Inch Nails late night set by proclaiming, “Ladies and gentlemen, punch your balls off and please welcome Nine Inch Nails!”
He appeared on the first episode of the 1996 series The Dana Carvey Show on ABC.
He appeared as one of the clubhouse gang in an episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
After years of poor health, DeForest died at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, New York, on Long Island, on March 19, 2007. Per his request, no funeral services were held; he was cremated and his remains were interred at Pinelawn Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York. By all press accounts, he left no surviving relatives.
File under Blast From The Past, Music, SeMeN SPeRmS Approved, SeMeN SPeRmS BLArRrG