The talk show host and comedian confessed later that he was glad that his wife Regina Lasko stayed by his side despite his infidelity.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 4, 2020. It has since been updated.
When a person finds out that their spouse had cheated on them, the betrayal can be too difficult to overcome. However, there are some people who are able to get past this traumatic phase and forgive their partners. For those who want to try and salvage their relationship, there are many factors to keep in mind, like their history together, whether they have children, and other such variables. Only with open communication can the anger be defused so healing can begin. Veteran talk show host David Letterman has been venerated in the halls of comedy but he has faltered many times in his personal life. Eventually, facing a blackmail plot that could have cost him millions he chose to confess his behavior that almost tore his family apart, reported CBS News.
Letterman and Regina Lasko first started dating in February 1986, when he was still in a long-term relationship with former Late Night head writer and producer Merrill Markoe. Markoe and he eventually split and he continued dating Lasko. They had a son, Harry Joseph Letterman, in 2003, and finally in 2009, 23 years after they started dating, they tied the knot. They did it in a low-key courthouse civil ceremony in Choteau, Montana.
"I had avoided getting married pretty good [sic] for, like, 23 years, and … honestly, whether this happened or not, I secretly felt that men who were married admired me, like I was the last of the real gunslingers — you know what I’m saying?” he had said back then.
The same year, he was hit with a huge scandal about his infidelity towards Lasko. He admitted very publicly on his Late Show with David Letterman that he had cheated on his wife. He was being threatened with blackmail by Joe Halderman, a TV producer. Halderman said he would expose that Letterman had slept with multiple female Late Show employees if he didn't fork over $2 million. One of those employees was Halderman's girlfriend, Stephanie Birkitt. They had been living together from early 2005 to August 2009 in Connecticut, as per CBS News.
Instead of paying the money, Letterman revealed to his audience that he "had sex with women who worked for me" and his wife was "horribly hurt by my behavior." "When something happens like that, if you hurt a person and it's your responsibility, you try to fix it. And at that point, there's only two things that can happen: either you're going to make some progress and get it fixed, or you're going to fall short and perhaps not get it fixed, so let me tell you folks, I got my work cut out for me," he said, reported TODAY.
He also apologized to his staff, "Inadvertently, I just wasn't thinking ahead. My thanks to the staff for, once again, putting up with something stupid I've gotten myself involved in."
A few months later, he again addressed the "stupid behavior." "You take a look at the explosion, and it knocks you down and you wake up every morning and you're scared and you're depressed and sad, and you kind of got to let that knock you down and knock you down," he said.
Whatever repercussions he faced after the scandal, they hit him hard and caused depression too. According to PEOPLE, Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night, by New York Times reporter Jason Zinoman, quotes the talk show host as saying, "I’m in hell. I will always be in hell until the day after, when I will go to hell," to writer Steve Young.
After coming out to the public about his many indiscretions, the host had been "shaken." "It was akin to having killed your family in a car crash. It was like that to me," Letterman said about his desperation, according to Zinoman. "I was afraid my family was gone," he said.
He told Rolling Stone in 2015 that he was grateful Lasko chose to stay by his side and he still hadn't explained the situation to his son, then 12. "He will [know about it] one day,” Letterman said. "We’ll have to have a conversation about it. But not yet."
The couple is still together and he retired from the show when he was 68. The show was taken over by Stephen Colbert.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by (L) Ron Sachs; (R) Alex Wong