January 25, 2022

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Tony Mendez, David Letterman’s Oddball ‘Cue Card Boy,’ Dies at 76

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Tony Mendez, who was in demand of cue playing cards for “Late Show With David Letterman,” as nicely as one of the show’s breakout oddball figures, till an altercation (above cue cards) with one of the writers obtained him fired in 2014, died on July 29 at his property in Miami Beach front. He was 76.

Andrew Corbin, his previous companion, confirmed the dying but mentioned he did not know the bring about.

Mr. Mendez’s on-camera exchanges with Mr. Letterman manufactured him a important member of the show’s troupe of non-stars, amongst them the comedian’s mom, Dorothy Mengering the stage manager Biff Henderson and Mujibur and Sirajul, salesmen at a souvenir store in the vicinity of the Ed Sullivan Theater, where by the clearly show was taped.

Mr. Mendez started out to print (in significant black letters) and flip cue cards for Mr. Letterman periodically on his NBC exhibit “Late Evening With David Letterman” in 1990. He took in excess of whole time when Mr. Letterman moved to CBS in 1993. Nicknamed “Cue Card Boy” by Mr. Letterman, Mr. Mendez went on to turn the outsized playing cards for the comedian’s monologue and other scripted bits for a different 21 many years.

“The flipping of the playing cards is very essential,” Mr. Mendez instructed The New Yorker in 2001. “If you flip too quick, they can not see the very last line. If you’re too slow, you gradual them down.”

Mr. Mendez also was the star of a sequence of strange on the net films, “The Tony Mendez Demonstrate,” posted on the show’s web-site for a number of several years. In 2007, a billboard selling the Mendez present was unveiled in close proximity to the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway, in which Mr. Letterman taped his program.

But Mr. Mendez’s time at “Late Show” ended in October 2014, when he assaulted just one of the writers, Invoice Scheft. The backstage incident made the front web site of The New York Article with the headline “HATE Show: Backstage Battle Erupts at Letterman.”

The two adult men had argued prior to the taping of the Oct. 8 display above adjustments to the cue playing cards. “He tells me what to do and I have to say, ‘I know what I’m performing,’” Mr. Mendez told The Article.

The up coming day, The Post claimed, Mr. Mendez was nonetheless indignant. He grabbed Mr. Scheft’s shirt and shook him, primary to his firing (6 months soon after Mr. Letterman introduced that he would be retiring from the demonstrate in 2015).

“It was an unfortunate way to stop his time at the exhibit, and a unhappy way to conclude a 22-calendar year friendship,” Mr. Scheft explained in an email.

Antonio Emilio Mendez Jr. was born in Havana on March 27, 1945, and left Cuba by airplane in 1961 with his father, who labored in the legislation section of the College of Havana, and his mother, Josefina.

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In Los Angeles, in which Mr. Mendez lived with his relatives, his mother, who taught Spanish at U.C.L.A., fulfilled another person who understood Barney McNulty, who is credited with staying the initially individual in tv to use cue playing cards. Mr. McNulty hired Mr. Mendez to flip cards for cleaning soap operas, sitcoms like “The Lucy Show” and the selection clearly show “The Hollywood Palace.”

In his early 20s, he detoured into dancing. His sister, Josefina, was a prima ballerina with the Cuban Countrywide Ballet, and he grew up appreciating her artwork. He studied with the Houston Ballet, was an apprentice with the Harkness Ballet and gained a scholarship from American Ballet Theater.

“And in people times, if you could point your toes, they would give you a scholarship,” he reported in an job interview with Time Out New York magazine in 2008.

He danced on Broadway in the 1970s and ’80s, in “Pippin,” “Irene,” “Dancin’” and “King of Hearts.” He also danced in tours of “Applause” and “Evita.”

In 1984, nearing 40, he returned to flipping cards, this time for “Saturday Evening Are living,” wherever he stayed for 9 yrs.

“It was the most tense job I ever had,” he informed The New Yorker. “The hosts have been fully freaked out. They would all try to memorize, and I would convey to them that the script was going to be switching right up until the final minute, so they experienced to stick to me.”

Then, in 1993, Mr. Mendez succeeded his companion, Marty Zone, who had been identified with H.I.V. five decades before, as Mr. Letterman’s cue card person.

Mr. Mendez’s partnership with Mr. Letterman was, he once recalled, unusually solid — right until he was fired.

“Nobody talks to him the way I do and he welcomes it for the reason that all people is so frightened of him,” Mr. Mendez advised Time Out. “And he appreciates he’ll get the fact from me.”

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