An upcoming biography about David Letterman describes him as a hypochondriac who was plagued by anxiety over the smallest health concerns.
Though the former Late Night host often joked about his health with viewers over the years, it appears the source of his comedy was no fabrication.
From overdosing on aspirin to invented illnesses, writer Jason Zinoman claims the comedian worried about a spectrum of conditions. Zinoman is behind the upcoming biography, titled “Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night”, out on bookshelves April 11.
“He was a spectacularly committed hypochondriac, and close watchers of Late Night could tell,” Zinoman writes. “In the office, he would often study a well-worn copy of The Merck Manual, searching out symptoms in an effort to speculate about what disease was going to threaten his life next.”
Letterman previously admitted to suffering from the disease in an interview with Rolling Stone, telling the magazine that “for years and years and years – 30, 40 years – I was anxious, and hypochondriacal, and an alcoholic, and many, many other things that made me different from other people.”
In the upcoming release, Zinoman recounts a time when Letterman phoned his agent in a panic because he thought he overdosed on aspirin.
Zinoman also touches upon the star’s cheating scandal, which oddly incorporated his struggle with hypochondria. Letterman’s former girlfriend and head writer of the show, Merrill Markoe, once confronted the host about his cheating, telling him, “look, you are either dying or you are dating.”
“But you can’t be both. Don’t tell me you were dying and then it turns out you are dating,” she recalled about one of their final fights. “Pick one.”