David Michael Hasselhoff (born July 17, 1952), nicknamed “The Hoff“, is an American actor, singer, producer, and businessman. He has set multiple Guinness World Records, being the most watched man on TV and having the highest reverse bungee jump.
He first gained recognition on The Young and The Restless, playing Dr. Snapper Foster. His career continued with his leading role as Michael Knight on Knight Rider and as L.A. County Lifeguard Mitch Buchannon in the series Baywatch. Hasselhoff produced Baywatch from the 1990s until 2001, when the series ended with Baywatch Hawaii. On screen, he appeared in films including Click, Dodgeball, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and Hop.
Hasselhoff was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Dolores Therese (née Mullinex/Mullinix; died February 11, 2009), a homemaker, and Joseph Vincent Hasselhoff, a business executive. His family is Roman Catholic, of German, Irish and English descent.His great-great-grandmother, Meta, emigrated with her family to Baltimore from Völkersen, Germany, 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Bremen, in 1865.
He spent his pre-teen years in Jacksonville, Florida, and later lived in Atlanta, Georgia, where he attended Marist High School. Hasselhoff made his theatrical debut at age seven in Peter Pan, and ever since his childhood dream was to have a career on Broadway. He graduated from Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Illinois in 1970. He was a member of the speech team, senior discussion leaders, president of the choir, captain of the volleyball team and held roles in several plays (including one lead role as Matt in The Fantasticks). He studied at Oakland University before graduating with a degree in theater at the California Institute of the Arts.
Hasselhoff portrayed Dr. “Snapper Foster” on The Young and the Restless from 1975–82, leaving the series as the show wrote out many of their original characters. In 1979, he played “Simon” in Starcrash. He launched his singing career with guest appearances on the first season of children’s program Kids Incorporated, performing “Do You Love Me”. He guest starred on two episodes of Diff’rent Strokes and the soap opera Santa Barbara as himself in 1984.
Hasselhoff was recruited by then NBC President, Brandon Tartikoff to star in the science-fiction series Knight Rider from 1982 to 1986 as character Michael Knight. He has described Knight Rider as more than a TV show: “It’s a phenomenon. It’s bigger than Baywatch ever was.” On the success of Knight Rider – “It’s because it was about saving lives, not taking lives, and it was how one man really can make a difference. And we had a blast making it, and we made sure nobody died on the show; [just as] we made sure nobody ever drowned on Baywatch“. (However, in the 1982 two-hour pilot “Knight Of The Phoenix”, Muntzy is shot and killed in the parking lot. Also a female character died in the “Nobody Does It Better” episode, and a gang member was killed by Michael Knight in the “Short Notice” episode.)
He describes the acting he has done as “a little more difficult than if you had a regularly well-written script – like, if I was going to be in, say, Reservoir Dogs, or The Godfather, or Dances with Wolves or Lawrence of Arabia or ER, I had to talk to a car.” His role in the show led him to a People’s Choice Award for ‘Most Popular Actor’. Now, over 33 years later, the show is still playing throughout the world.
While his star status waxed and waned in the USA, his popularity endured longer in Germany to the end of the 1980s. In 1989, David trained with Patsy Swayze at Debbie Reynolds‘ Studio in North Hollywood for the Austrian segment of his Knight Rider tour.
Hasselhoff returned to television on Baywatch which premiered in 1989. Although it was canceled after only one season, he believed the series had potential, so Hasselhoff revived it for the first-run syndication market in 1991, investing his own money and additionally functioning as executive producer. His contract stipulated royalties to be paid to him from the rerun profits, which gave him the financial liberty to buy back the rights to Baywatch from NBC.
In its second incarnation, Baywatch was much more successful. It ran for a total of 11 years and, from the 1990s until its series finale in 2001, was watched by almost 1 billion viewers across 140 countries, solidifying his status among the world’s foremost television personalities of the said period. This success combined with his royalties and his other ventures have placed Hasselhoff’s fortune at more than $100 million.
In 1991, Hasselhoff reprised his role as Michael Knight in the television film Knight Rider 2000 as a sequel to the original series. The movie served as a pilot for a proposed new series, but despite high ratings, the plan was abandoned.
In 1996, Hasselhoff was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1997, he performed a duet with Filipino singer Regine Velasquez, which was used as the main theme for his 1998 movie Legacy. He made his Broadway debut in 2000 in the title role of Jekyll & Hyde. In August 2001, he hosted an event at the Conga Room, in Los Angeles honoring the Latin rock band Renegade for record sales in excess of 30 million units worldwide, taking the stage with the Latin rockers and singing in Spanish. Beginning on July 16, 2004, he played the lead role in London performances of Chicago for three months.
Hasselhoff has made several self-parodic appearances in movies. He had a major role in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, released November 19, 2004, starring as himself (though resembling his bygone Baywatch character) and meeting SpongeBob and Patrick (his full name is heard once in the movie; he is referred to as “Hasselhoff”). Hasselhoff also had another short appearance in the movie DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story as the dodgeball coach to the German national dodgeball team, Team Hasselhoff. Berating his team after being eliminated from a tournament, he shouts “Ihr seid alle Schweine!” (translated: “You are all pigs!”, a common German insult) and smashes a photo of himself in his Baywatch attire. In 2004’s EuroTrip, Hasselhoff appears in a washroom. In the 2006 Adam Sandler film Click Hasselhoff portrays Sandler’s despicable boss. Hasselhoff also appeares in an episode of Wildboyz. In 2007, he again played himself in the Jamie Kennedy comedy Kickin’ It Old Skool.
In his music video for “Jump in My Car“, he engages in self-parody; this time parodying his performance as Michael Knight in Knight Rider. The car in the video was a black Pontiac Trans Am with a pulsing LED and an interior nearly identical to that of the KITT car in the series. The video was shot in Sydney, Australia using a right-hand drive KITT replica, including KITT’s ejection seat system.
In 2006, Hasselhoff, became a co-judge on NBC‘s America’s Got Talent, a show that showcases America’s best amateur entertainers. He also judged in the second, third and fourth seasons alongside Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan. On the 2007 season finale, Hasselhoff sang “This is the Moment.” He was replaced by comedian Howie Mandel for season five.
Hasselhoff produced Baywatch for first run syndication. He has spoken at both the Oxford and Cambridge Student Unions.
He was a celebrity cast member on the eleventh season of Dancing with the Stars which increased in ratings by 36% from the previous year, and served as a judge on NBC‘s America’s Got Talent from 2006-09. In 2011, he joined the Britain’s Got Talent judging panel, replacing Simon Cowell.
Hasselhoff was later honored on Comedy Central‘s The Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff in addition to receiving the International Star of the Year Award for Outstanding Contribution to Global Entertainment by the Bollywood Awards. He was awarded the Comeback Star of the Year award during the VH1 Big in ’06 Awards.
In 2008, Hasselhoff was a featured guest in a Volkswagen commercial, where he talked about the company selling more cars in Europe and the rest of the world than any other brand. In response, the black Beetle commented that Hasselhoff is “not so big” in Brazil. In late October of that same year, Hasselhoff played a bit part in the EA real time strategy video game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 as vice president of the United States, while starring in its promotional microsite, conquerthislife.com, which featured several tongue-in-cheek videos as well as a Hasselhoff soundboard.
In February 2008, towards the end of the Knight Rider 2008, he reprised his career-making role as Michael Knight as he walked on to introduce himself to his on-screen son, Mike Traceur. On November 12, 2008, he became the first celebrity downloadable character for the PlayStation Network‘s video game Pain.
In September 2009, he featured on a radio podcast for Compare the Meerkat, part of the advertising for British website, Comparethemarket.com. He was the subject of an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom as a result of his support for the re-opening of Morecambe Winter Gardens.
Hasselhoff returned to The Young and the Restless, reprising his role as “Snapper” for a short arc that aired in mid-June 2010. Hasselhoff appeared as a contestant on season 11 of Dancing with the Stars. His professional dance partner was Kym Johnson. On September 21, 2010, they were the first couple eliminated from the competition. Coincidentally, Hasselhoff competed against Brandy Norwood, who judged alongside him in the first season of America’s Got Talent.
In October 2010, it was announced that he would be playing Captain Hook in the New Wimbledon Theatre production of the pantomime “Peter Pan” from December 2010 to January 2011. He has reprised his role of “Hoff the Hook” for 2012 at the Opera House, Manchester.
In 2011, he was a guest judge at the Belgian Idols competition. Hasselhoff became a judge on Britain’s Got Talent in 2011 alongside Amanda Holden, Michael McIntyre and Simon Cowell. However, Hasselhoff was axed after only one series on the show. In 2011, he revived his music career with a short tour across Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In the same year, Hasselhoff is featured in the trailer of the spin-off downloadable game, Burnout Crash!. On October 1, 2011, David Hasselhoff attended Knightcon 2011 at Xscape, Castleford, UK, with girlfriend Hayley Roberts. The event was also attended by former Knight Rider cohorts Rebecca Holden (April Curtis in Season 2), Peter Parros (Reginald Cornilius III (RC3) in Season 4), and Michael Scheffe, the designer of KITT. In 2012, he was a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice Australia . He appeared on ‘8 out of 10 Cats’ on May 11, 2012, and entertained the audience by using the word ‘willy’.
Hasselhoff had a major role in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! which premiered globally on July 22, 2015. He then starred in a new musical, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life at the Blackpool Opera House, late in 2015.