Dorothy Mengering, Dave’s Mom

For any mother, can there be a finer accomplishment than giving birth to a guy that lightens hearts and regularly elicits belly laughs from millions of viewers across the United States? That’s what Dorothy Mengering did, and it is for that reason that she is frequently simply called “Dave’s Mom,” after David Letterman, host of NBC’s Late Show and world’s funniest Hoosier.

Dorothy Mengering was born in 1921 in Linton, a tiny burg close to Bloomington, about 100 miles southwest of Indiana state capital, Indianapolis. Coming from a German background, as many people from Indianapolis have, Dorothy Mengering was the eldest of three children born to Earl Hofert and Lena Strietelmeier.

Dave’s Mom studied at Indiana University before settling down in 1942 with husband Harry Joseph Letterman. The couple had three children, Gretchen, David and Jan, and Dorothy Mengering worked as a church secretary while helping out at her husband’s florist’s shop. “Joe” Letterman died in 1973. Some ten years later, Dave’s Mom got remarried to a World War II vet named Hans Mengering; from thence comes her present appellation.

Check out this hilarious early video from 1990, in which Dave’s Mom gives instructions for frying a baloney sandwich for Carlos Santana. (Dave had to call his mom five times before he got her on the phone.)


David Letterman frequently called his mom up on the Late Show to talk with her on camera about anything from the mundane to the bizarre. Dorothy Mengering showed a flair for quirky motherly humor that the public rallied around, and before long, Letterman had her in front of the camera.

See Dorothy Mengering’s on-camera debut at the 1994 Winter Olympics in this Late Show video clip.


The very first appearance on-camera for Dave’s Mom was in 1994, when she covered the Lillehammer Winter Olympics on a nightly basis throughout the event. During her frequent live interviews with Nancy Kerrigan, Dave’s Mom offered to bring the famous skater hot cocoa a number of times. She also asked Hillary Clinton, with millions of fans avidly watching, whether the megastar politician might “fix” her son’s speeding tickets.

From that auspicious debut, Dorothy Mengering became the darling of many Letterman fans, who awaited her every appearance with gleeful anticipation. A favorite ongoing spot on the Late Show is her annual Thanksgiving appearance Dave calls “Guess Mom’s Pies,” a feature that goes out from her Carmel, Indiana home via satellite.

See why everybody loves Dave’s Mom in this video of a regular Late Show spot called “Guess Mom’s Pies.”


Under the title of “Late Show Olympic Commentator,” Dorothy Mengering also covered the 1998 and 2002 Olympics and the Japan and Utah Winter Games. She continues to make regular appearances on her son’s popular Late Show, for Mother’s Day, for her birthday and just for fun.

Dave’s Mom’s dry, prosaic style at the microphone, completely devoid of any flair for showbiz, coupled with Letterman’s priceless reactions, have earned her a place on the lists of famous Carmel people.

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