In 1952 something magical happened. Now I am sure more than one magical thing happened in 1952, however, one item in particular stands out to me. Yes in 1952 in Baltimore, Maryland the world was graced with the birth of a true global treasure. David Hasselhoff. It would take 23 years before the public would become aware of the glory of the man who would simply be known as ‘The Hoff’, however, most would consider the result well worth the wait.
Early Years and The Knight
The Hoff burst on to the scene, if by scene we mean daytime television, in 1975 when he joined the cast of The Young and the Restless as the dashing M.D. “Snapper” Foster. In his 7 years on the show it seems like the Hoff has the ladies of Genoa City on lockdown, so much that he even was able to spread that doctoring seed like he was Shawn Kemp on the show. However, the major accomplishment of the Hoff during this time was catching the eye of Brandon Tartikoff to earn his breakout starring role on the seminal NBC series Knight Rider.
Yes in 1982 The Hoff graduated to primetime, donned a leather jacket and began driving a car so tricked out that even Xzibit couldn’t pimp it. Knight Rider would launch The Hoff into the stratosphere, with the show being described by none other than The Hoff himself as a “phenomenon”. Yes Michael Knight and KITT captured the hearts and minds of every kid from the 1980’s. So much, that many of us are super pissed that the brain trust at GM hasn’t figured out how to give us sweet ass Trans Am’s that talk in a british accent*, have ejector seats, and drive themselves. Seriously, all GM did was discontinue the Trans Am in 2002 and kill Pontiac altogether in 2010. I can’t even get a Bandit style screaming chicken!
All that aside, it was on Knight Rider where The Hoff truly began to develop his thespian style and became one of the most respected actors on television. Yes Michael Knight was a character for the ages. A rogue warrior. Part outlaw, part lawman. Above all a hero for his time. The Knight was for the kids, but respected by the masses. Yes Hoff displayed his acting chops by primarily acting against a freakin’ car. For four years, he helped make a car seem human all while saving humanity on our television sets. However, none of us could imagine the drops of acting prowess that would occur in episodes 201 and 217 of Knight Rider. Yes, I speak of the two episodes where The Hoff pulled off the ultimate feat of playing hero and foe when Garthe Knight came in to rue the day.
The earring, the moustache, the goatee…ah yes the perfect foe. How does one outact oneself? How The Hoff pulled off this masterpiece is still a mystery to many who study the art of acting. It is so perfect that James Lipton cannot even bring himself to comprehend how masterful this performance was. At least that is the only reason that I can think of as to why The Hoff has never made an appearance at The Actor’s Studio when they allow Sally Draper to make an appearance. It’s the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn. Even though the Knight would the be pinnacle for most, The Hoff is not an ordinary man. No bigger things were on the horizon for David…beginning in 1989.
The Hoff (and Rocky) Kill Communism in Europe
While The Hoff had tried to launch his music career as far back as his guest appearances on Kids Incorporated in the early 80’s it wasn’t until New Year’s Eve 1989 when The Hoff would break through as a recording artist. In late 1989, his song “Looking for Freedom” began to take hold in communist stricken eastern Europe, especially in East Berlin. Many in East Germany had been longing for the freedom of their Western brothers and sisters for years. Wanting to reunify the nation that had been stripped apart at the end of World War II, The Hoff took to the Berlin Wall and the results were spectacular.
In the shadow of the Reichstag and the backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate atop the Berlin Wall, The Hoff preached about freedom and Mr. Gorbachev listened. Yes that wall was torn down. Rocky Balboa told us that if he could change and yous could change, we all can change! The Hoff saw that message through, and 9 months after this performance Germany was reunified into one. Also, who else could pull off the light up jacket and piano scarf? No one that’s who.
A daytime star, a prime time legend, and a political magnate…would this be enough for The Hoff? No his career continued to evolve.
1991 – 2000: The Hoff Goes to the Beach
Holy crap it’s like a roll call of 1990’s Playboy boobs. Pamela Anderson, Erika Eleniak, Gena Lee Nolan, Donna D’Errico, and Carmen Electra? Damn you go Hoff, he was just swimming in my 13 year old fantasy island. Seriously though, even after all of his prior success The Hoff just goes and unleashes the most watched show of all time! 140 countries and over 1 billion total viewers. Insane. The most insane part is that after NBC cancelled the show after one season in 1989, The Hoff bought the rights and had the idea to sell it directly into syndication. Primarily based on this The Hoff is now estimated to be worth a staggering $110 million. That’s a whole lotta speedos.
Post Baywatch and Now
The Hoff has continued to stay relevant after his days on Baywatch. He has taken on passion projects on the stage such as starring in the title role in the much maligned/loved musical Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway, stepping into The Producers in Vegas, and as Dr. Frank N. Furter in a Los Angeles production of The Rocky Horror Show. He was a contestant on Dancing With The Stars, which is a show people watch. Also, The Hoff has had stints as a judge on America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent. The man has been the subject of a Comedy Central roast, he has been a YouTube star by drunkenly eating a cheeseburger on the floor of his Vegas penthouse, and is on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. However, sometimes The Hoff still feels the need to remind everyone that he is still here…
That’s right, in 2015 The Hoff went Hoff again with a new bad ass song called True Survivor. 16 million YouTube hits and counting, The Hoff is still relevant 40 years after his debut. Through it all he has proven that he can be many things. Sexual icon, television action star, visionary producer, humanitarian, and a comedian mocking himself like only The Hoff can. He is an American treasure that should be respected for many years to come.
*Mr. Feeny everyone!
Note: Any ‘facts’ in this come directly from the David Hasselhoff page on Wikipedia. Wikipedia – everyone’s encyclopedia! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hasselhoff