Dorothy Mengering was born Dorothy Marie Hofert in Linton, Indiana, the oldest child of Lena M. (née Strietelmeier) and Earl Jacob Hofert. Mengering's maternal grandparents, Fredricke Hilgediek and William Strietelmeier, were born in Germany, and her father was of German descent. A younger brother, Earl Jr., and sister, Hazel, were born in 1922 and 1923 respectively. Dorothy's first cousin is the grandmother of the model and actress Rebecca Romijn, a fact which was discussed on the Late Show with David Letterman.
Mengering spent a year at Indiana University before marrying Harry Joseph (Joe) Letterman in 1942, with whom she had three children: Jan, David, and Gretchen. While raising her children, she assisted her husband, a florist, and worked as a secretary at her church, Second Presbyterian; she was widowed in 1973. In 1983, she married again, this time to Hans Mengering, a retired engineer and decorated World War II veteran. He died on March 12, 2013.
Appearances on The Late Show
Mengering's first on-camera appearance on The Late Show was in 1994, when she provided nightly coverage of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. In the days immediately prior to her television debut, she fell and received eight stitches on her eyebrow and a black eye, and spent much of her on-camera time under many layers of makeup. While in Lillehammer, she interviewed Hillary Clinton (inquiring if her husband might be able to "fix" Dave's speeding tickets), Nancy Kerrigan (repeatedly asking her if she would like a cup of hot cocoa), and several other winter Olympians, including gold medal-winner Tommy Moe.
Since her first appearance in 1994, Mengering has appeared on the show several times each year. She makes annual appearances on Thanksgiving, via satellite from her Indiana home, for a feature entitled "Guess Mom's Pies". She also appears regularly a few days before Mother's Day and has made occasional visits on her birthday. In 1995, she traveled to London to film remote spots for The Late Show, which were aired later that year.
"The positive response to my appearances on David's show has nothing to do with my amateur abilities as a broadcaster. People enjoy seeing a mother and son together. It's that simple."
- Dorothy Mengering at the Internet Movie Database
- "Dave's Mom Biography". CBS.
- Dorothy Mengering being interviewed by her granddaughter, HOW editor Bryn Mooth, for StoryCorps (Reported by Family Tree Magazine (at familytreemagazine.com/insider)
- Alex Witchel (May 9, 1996). "At Home With: Dave's Mom; She Still Thinks Pies Are Easy". The New York Times.