Dorothy Mengering, David Letterman’s mother, or “Dave’s Mom” as she was known to Late Show audiences, “died peacefully” Tuesday at her home in Carmel, Indiana. She was 95.
“As Dorothy breathed her last, a brilliant red cardinal landed on a branch outside her window, singing his song,” David and sisters Janice Letterman Millholland and Gretchen Letterman wrote in the obituary for their mother in the Indianapolis Star, noting that The Song of the Cardinal was one of Mengering’s favorite books.
A church secretary by day, Mengering became a beloved late-night fixture in the Nineties thanks to her many appearances on her son’s Late Night and subsequent The Late Show. The genial guest took part in segments like “Cooking With Dave’s Mom,” Top 10 lists and the Thanksgiving staple “Guess the Pie,” filmed via satellite from Mengering’s own kitchen.
Mengering also served as the Late Show‘s official Winter Olympics correspondent, starting with the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway and continuing with the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan and 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
In 2015, prior to Letterman departing the Late Show, Rolling Stone placed Mengering at Number Four on the list of the host’s best sidekicks and second bananas.
“When Paul and I started the show, and throughout the years, I was lucky enough to have my mother as part of my program here,” Letterman told his audience on Mother’s Day 2015. “We would send her places, she went to the Olympics… she traveled all over, and she got to be a very nice part of the show.”