David Hasselhoff

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David Hasselhoff
David Hasselhoff.jpg
Birth name David Michael Hasselhoff
Born July 17, 1952 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Notable Roles Knight Rider: Michael Knight
Baywatch: Mitch Buchannon
Notable Episodes
Awards 1 People's Choice TV Award
TV Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Other Awards: 1 Bollywood Movie Award, USA

David Hasselhoff is an American actor, producer and creator best known for his starring roles as Michael Knight on the 1980s action hit Knight Rider and as Mitch Buchannon on the international smash hit Baywatch, as well as his career as a singer-songwriter.

Contents

Biography

Born David Michael Hasselhoff on July 17, 1952 in Baltimore, Maryland, he is the second-oldest and the only boy of five children. His father Joe's work as an executive for Brinks Security caused the family to move about the country, so young David attended school in several towns, including Jacksonville, Florida; Atlanta and Chicago. He was never a good student, and he failed out of Marist High School in Atlanta, but graduated from Lyons Township High School at the La Grange campus near Chicago. Interested in acting, dancing, singing and performing since the age of seven, Hasselhoff attended the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pontiac, Michigan and the California Institute of Arts in Valencia, near Los Angeles.

Although his heart lay in musical theater, with his chiseled, teutonic looks, Hasselhoff was a natural as a soap opera lead, and his first major professional work was on the soap opera The Young and the Restless. Despite a strong fan reaction against his casting, he soon won the show's fanbase over and became one of its most popular stars. His success there caught the eye of network executive Brandon Tartikoff of NBC, who personally tapped Hasselhoff to star in the network's action series Knight Rider. The series was an iconic hit of the 1980s, and by the time its run was over, Hasselhoff was a national star.

His heart still in music, he attempted to use his burgeoning TV career to launch a singing career. Although his debut album—entitled Night Rocker in a clear nod to his hit show—received only lukewarm reaction, in 1989, he released an album entitled Looking for Freedom. A marketing push in Germany and Austria, coupled with the message of the album in relation to Germany's turbulent reunification at the time, led to the album becoming a record-breaking success in Germany. Hasselhoff became such a successful pop star there that he performed the title track live atop the Berlin Wall in July 1990, as throngs of reunited Berliners chipped away at the "fallen" wall. Throughout the 1990s, Hasselhoff would continue to be a major pop star in German-speaking Europe while his musical career saw only cult success in the United States and the United Kingdom. The frenzy of his fandom in Germany and Austria would be remarkable to many Americans, and his popularity there would gain as great a pop folklore value as Jerry Lewis' supposed popularity in France. In a 1995 Playboy interview, Hasselhoff would himself claim to be flabbergasted by his German and Austrian success and would jokingly claim that it was due to the fact that his last name meant, in German, "rabbits having sex." (The true translation is "hazelnut farm.")

Months before the release of Looking for Freedom, Hasselhoff debuted in a new NBC action series, Baywatch. The series would last for only one season on NBC before it was cancelled. Hasselhoff, however, took control of the series and came on as producer, and together with his partners, sold the series into syndication. Even on NBC, the series had been critically reviled as poorly acted, poorly written and poorly directed. The female leads almost all had more credits on their resumés as swimsuit models and Playboy centerfolds than as actresses. Its stories were generally not much more complex than a three-panel comic strip, and it seemed to devote more screen time to shots of its attractive, athletic, swimsuit-clad cast running in slow-motion on the beach than to character development. In its eleven-season run, it failed to garner so much as a single Golden Globe, DGA, SAG or PGA nomination, nor did it receive even one Emmy nomination, not even in the technical categories. To many critics it represented the worst of television of the era—schlocky, exploitative, clichéd and vapid.

It was also the biggest hit TV show in the world. For much of the 1990s, its weekly international viewership numbered in the billions. By 1998, the number of estimated Baywatch viewers in the world dwarfed the number of practicing Christians in the world, and it would earn Hasselhoff his spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as "The Most Watched TV Star in the World."

So successful was Baywatch that it led to a spinoff, Baywatch Nights. During Baywatch Nights' brief two-season run, Hasselhoff had the rare distinction amongst TV actors of playing the same role in two separate, concurrently running series.

Mainstream American success continued to elude him, however, both in his acting career and in his singing career. In 1994, Hasselhoff scheduled a pay-per-view airing of his live concert in Atlantic City. Whether or not the concert would have been a success under other conditions is of course debatable, but there would be some irony in the fact that very few Americans watched a concert performed by the former Michael Knight, but the overwhelming majority of TV sets in America were tuned to the most famous car chase in television history. On the night of the concert, actor and football player O.J. Simpson led the LAPD in a low-speed chase across the Los Angeles freeways in his infamous white Ford Bronco. Whether or not that was the cause of the concert's failure, Hasselhoff has never since attempted a live concert on American television.

The international attention from his fame, however, also thrust Hasselhoff's personal life into the limelight. As a result, his public battle with alcoholism made international news. In June 2002, Hasselhoff checked himself into the famous Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs, California, in an attempt to "do something" about his "social drinking," in the words of his publicist Judy Katz. Two days later, Hasselhoff checked himself out again. Lurid tabloid headlines described the following day as an orgy of binge drinking in a hotel in Palm Springs, where he cleaned out the mini-bar and was eventually found unconscious. The National Enquirer claimed he had been rushed to the hospital and treated for alcohol poisoining. Whatever the facts of his stay at the Center and the hours after his release were, Hasselhoff soon returned to the Center and completed its alcohol rehabilitation program. However, in 2004, he again made tabloid headlines when he was arrested and charged with a DUI.

Amidst the rumors and gossip, Hasselhoff made numerous film and TV appearances, often parodying his own image as a handsome but under-talented and kitschy pop icon in films such as The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and on TV shows, such as Family Guy. Several of his tongue-in-cheek music videos—most notably his 1997 cover of the 1969 B.J. Thomas single "Hooked on a Feeling"—have become cult hits on the Internet. He has also finally realized his childhood dream of appearing in musical theater—first on Broadway in Jekyll and Hyde, then in 2005 in London's West End in the stage play which had inspired the 2002 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Chicago.

Throughout 2006, after the 2005 release of his cult hit music single "Jump in My Car" (the video for which—another Internet cult hit—parodied the role of Michael Knight which had made him famous) Hasselhoff's private life would again find its way into the tabloids. It began in January, when the news was announced that he was divorcing his wife of 16 years and former Baywatch co-star Pamela Bach. Although Hasselhoff's first divorce in 1989 from actress Catherine Hickland had been a relatively private affair, this second divorce would result in a long, ugly and very public battle. Bach's March 2006 accusation that Hasselhoff had been abusive led to a restraining order being filed against Hasselhoff, and Bach has since filed for sole custody of their daughters Taylor Ann and Hayley (born 1990 and 1992, respectively). In June of that same year, while in London to film a commercial for the Internet company Pipex, Hasselhoff had an accident with a hotel chandelier while shaving. He was taken to the hospital to repair a severed tendon in his right arm.

Despite his personal turmoil, Hasselhoff has always been well noted for his charity work. He has founded a US organization called "Race for Life" (not to be confused with the UK organization of the same name)—which shares its name with an episode of Knight Rider—to work with handicapped and terminally ill children. He has also taken a key role in Camp Baywatch, a summer camp for homeless children and children from low-income families, as well as the famous Make-a-Wish Foundation. He also makes numerous children's hospital appearances around the world.

In 2006, as tabloids trumpeted embarrassing news, Hasselhoff made one of his rare theatrical film appearances in a role not parodying his television work in Adam Sandler's film Click. He also returned to television as the Simon Cowell-esque judge on Cowell's own update of The Gong Show, America's Got Talent. His autobiography, Making Waves, was released in the US and the UK in September 2006.

He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as "The Most Watched TV Star in the World." Commercial success notwithstanding, very little of his work has ever been critically acclaimed. In many ways, Hasselhoff has become television's version of the "B-Movie Queens" (or Kings) of the 1950s and 60s—a beloved actor known more for the campiness of his work rather than its artistic content. Far from avoiding this public image, Hasselhoff has proven himself highly adept at embracing and capitalizing on the kitschy nature of his success. His music videos are often tongue-in-cheek and openly cheesy, and as a result, several of them have become cult successes on the Internet. Almost all of his starring roles in films and TV series are campy and self-parodying. Nonetheless, like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra before him, he has achieved a status which only a fraction of celebrities ever reach: He is a one-man empire, a brand name as recognizable around the world as such corporate logos as Coca-Cola or McDonald's.

Roles

Starring Roles

Series Role Year(s) Season(s)
The Young and the Restless Dr. William "Snapper" Foster, Jr. 1975–1982
Semi-Tough Shake Tiller 1980 1
Knight Rider Michael Knight 1982–1986 1 2 3 4
Baywatch Mitch Buchannon 1989–2001 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Baywatch Nights Mitch Buchannon 1995–1997 1 2
America's Got Talent Judge 2006–2009 1 2 3 4
Britain's Got Talent Judge 2011 5 6 7

Guest Starring Roles

Series Role Episode Airdate
The Love Boat Tom Bell 3x27 - Invisible Maniac / September Song / Peekaboo April 19, 1980
The Love Boat Brian 4x18 - Isaac and the Mermaids / Humpty, Dumpty / Aquaphobic February 7, 1981
Diff'rent Strokes Himself 6x16 - Hooray for Hollywood (1) Feburary 11, 1984
Diff'rent Strokes Himself 6x17 - Hooray for Hollywood (2) Feburary 18, 1984
Action Himself 1x05 - Mr. Dragon Goes to Washington October 21, 1999
3rd Rock from the Sun Dr. Lasker 5x05 - Dick and Tuck November 16, 1999
Family Guy Himself 2x03 - Da Boom December 26, 1999
The West Wing Himself 1x16 - 20 Hours in L.A. February 23, 2000
I Love 1980's Himself 1x11 - New Years Compilation December 31, 2001
Just Shoot Me Himself 6x20 - The Burning House April 18, 2002
Still Standing Gary Maddox 1x16 - Still Hairdressing February 17, 2003
The Brendan Leonard Show Himself 1x20 - Pirates July 7, 2003

Specials and Made-for-TV Movies

Title Role Airdate Series/Banner
After Hours: Getting to Know Us Himself May 26, 1977
Pleasure Cove Scott January 3, 1979
The Cartier Affair Curt Taylor November 4, 1984
Disneyland's 30th Anniversary Celebration Himself February 18, 1985
Bridge Across Time Don Gregory November 22, 1985
Perry Mason: The Case of the Lady in the Lake Billy Travis May 15, 1988 Perry Mason
Fire and Rain Dr. Dan Meyer September 13, 1989
Knight Rider 2000 Michael Knight May 19, 1991 Knight Rider
Avalanche Duncan Snyder November 1, 1994
Gridlock Jake Gorsky January 14, 1996
Nick Fury: Agent of Shield Col. Nicholas Fury May 26, 1998
One True Love Mike Grant October 25, 2000
Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde March 10, 2001
Talking to Americans Himself March 30, 2001
NBC 75th Anniversary Special Himself May 5, 2002
Hawaiian Wedding Mitch Buchannon February 28, 2003 Baywatch
TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV Himself March 12, 2003 TV Land Awards
The Queen's Castle Himself March 27, 2005
Knight Rider Michael Knight February 17, 2008 Knight Rider (2008)

Talk, News and Game Show Appearances

Series Episode Airdate
Just Men! January 3, 1983
Wetten, dass...? Wetten, dass..? aus Saarbrücken September 15, 1990
Star Search September 8, 1984
This Is Your Life David Hasselhoff February 16, 1993
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Show 419 June 30, 1995
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Show 489 October 30, 1995
The Rosie O'Donnell Show November 7, 1996
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Show 679 November 7, 1996
The Rosie O'Donnell Show February 12, 1997
Light Lunch The World's Best Looking Lifeguards April 17, 1997
Wetten, dass...? Wetten, dass..? aus Leipzig November 8, 1997
The Rosie O'Donnell Show May 7, 1998
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Show 936 May 7, 1998
The Rosie O'Donnell Show January 18, 1999
Howard Stern February 2, 1999
The Howard Stern Radio Show February 20, 1999
Brigitte & Friends May 28, 2000
The Rosie O'Donnell Show October 19, 2000
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Show 1339 November 14, 2000
The Howard Stern Radio Show December 16, 2000
The Big Breakfast June 14, 2001
Hollywood Squares November 12, 2001
Fear Factor November 27, 2001
Whose Line Is It Anyway? (USA) Show No. 603 June 27, 2003
Extra October 15, 2003
Tussen de sterren November 3, 2003
Willkommen bei Carmen Nebel January 31, 2004
Good Day Live February 13, 2004
The Wayne Brady Show May 4, 2004
Richard & Judy July 21, 2004
In the Know July 31, 2004
Loose Women August 2, 2004
This Morning September 9, 2004
The Money Programme November 11, 2004
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross May 13, 2005
The Kumars at No. 42 July 1, 2005
Rove Live October 18, 2005
Australian Idol Motown: Top 6 Results Show October 24, 2005
Pop Nation: America's Coolest Stuff December 29, 2005
60 Minutes (1979) Hollywood or Bust February 19, 2006
Access Hollywood June 22, 2006
VH1: All Access Celeb Breakups & Scandals July 3, 2006
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Show 3179 July 14, 2006
Breakfast July 24, 2006
The Sharon Osbourne Show September 11, 2006
Entertainment Tonight September 22, 2006
Entertainment Tonight September 25, 2006
Corazón de... September 27, 2006

Director

Episode Director

Series Episode Airdate
Baywatch 9x13 - Come Fly with Me January 23, 1999

Producer

Series Produced

Series Year(s) Producer Credit Season(s)
Baywatch 1991 –2001 Executive Producer 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Baywatch Nights 1995 –1997 Executive Producer 1 2

Specials and Made-for-TV Movies Produced

Title Producer Credit Airdate Series/Banner
Hawaiian Wedding Executive Producer February 28, 2003 Baywatch

Responsible For

Awards and Accolades

People's Choice Awards

(1 Nomination/1 Win)

  • Won: Favorite Male Performer in a New Television Series (1982)
Knight Rider

Hollywood Walk of Fame

  • TV Star

Other Awards

Bollywood Movie Awards, USA

  • Won: International Star of the Year (2005)

Trivia

  • Commonly used nickname "The Hoff" dates back at least to 2005, when rumors began to circulate that he would record a rap album with Ice-T under the name "Hassle the Hoff." Both Ice-T and Hasslehoff denied these rumors.
  • The satirical Internet Website Get Hasselhoff to Number 1 was initially launched in 2006 to move Hasselhoff's 1989 single "Looking for Freedom" to the top of the pop charts. After the release of Hasselhoff's single "Jump in My Car," the Website has switched focus to this single.
  • As host of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live and also as a stand-up comedian, Norm MacDonald would often end any reference to Germany or Hasselhoff—even if it was a non-sequitur—with the punchline, "This proves my theory: The Germans love David Hasselhoff."
  • In addition to his music videos, a posed publicity photo ca. 1984 of Hasselhoff and the then star of Diff'rent Strokes Gary Coleman, both giving a thumbs up in front of the Trans Am used as K.I.T.T. on Knight Rider, has gained a life of its own on the Internet, where it is a cult irony hit.
  • His family is Roman Catholic
  • Has four sisters
  • Is of German, Irish and English descent.
  • Graduated from Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Illinois in 1970
  • Studied at Oakland University and graduated with a degree in theater from the California Institute of the Arts
  • Was married to actress Catherine Hickland from 1984 to 1989
  • Married his second wife, actress Pamela Bach in December of 1989; they have two daughters: Taylor Ann (born in May of 1990) and Hayley Amber (born in August of 1992); they divorced in July of 2006
  • Married his third wife, Hayley Roberts in July of 2018