David Hasselhoff is an American actor best known for his lead roles on the television series Knight Rider (1982-1986) and Baywatch (1989-2000).
He also crossed over to a successful music career, primarily in Austria, Switzerland, and most notably Germany.
Hasselhoff's first major role was portraying Dr. William "Snapper" Foster, Jr. on the soap opera The Young and the Restless from 1975-82. He later went on to star as Michael Knight in the Glen A. Larson-created series Knight Rider from 1982 to 1986.
He also starred in the made-for-TV movie Knight Rider in 1982, which pre-empted the series to follow. He appeared in the short-lived series Semi-Tough in 1980 and made a couple of guest appearances on The Love Boat.
While this star rose, fell and rose again in the US, Hasselhoff remained very popular in much of Europe. His music was more popular there than in the US, and his hit song "Looking for Freedom" became something of an anthem for the defeat of communist regimes in eastern Europe.
This European popularity became something of an in joke, Norm MacDonald was known for stating on numerous occasions that "Germans love David Hasselhoff" on Saturday Night Live and is referenced in the film Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story where Hasselhoff is shown as the demanding coach of the German team.
But whatever his role in ending communism, Hasselhoff's popularity during this period was real enough, and even reached war-torn Yugoslavia.
An anonymous young Bosnian recruited to help defend against the Serbs decorated his or her M48 Mauser with pictures of Hasselhoff, creating the now legendary Hasselhoff Mauser.
Taking Back Baywatch
Hasselhoff returned to television on Baywatch which premiered in 1989. Although it was cancelled 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 in syndication for another 10 seasons. It was also well-received internationally and has been shown in over 140 countries around the world.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Baywatch is the most watched TV show in the world, with over 1.1-billion viewers.
This success combined with his royalties and his other ventures have placed Hasselhoff's fortune at more than $100,000,000.
In 1994, he was scheduled to perform a concert on pay-per-view from Atlantic City. The concert was expected to help reignite his singing career in the United States.
On the night of his concert, O.J. Simpson was involved in a police chase on the California highway. Viewership of the concert was significantly lower than expected, due to the live coverage of the chase.
Since then, Hasselhoff has not attempted another concert.
In 1996, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Beginning in July 16, 2004, Hasselhoff played the lead role in London performances of Chicago, for three months and made his Broadway debut in 2000 in the title role of Jekyll & Hyde.
Hasselhoff has made several self-parodic appearances in movies. He had a major appearance in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, released November 19, 2004, starring as himself (though very much in bygone Baywatch character) and meeting SpongeBob and Patrick.
Hasselhoff also had another short appearance in the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story as the dodgeball coach to the German national dodgeball team. Berating his team after being eliminated from a tournament, he shouts "Ihr seid alle Schweine!" (translated: "You are all pigs!") and smashes a photo of himself in his Baywatch attire.
In 2004's Eurotrip, Hasselhoff appears in a fantasy sequence performing his early 90s hit single "Du".
In a cameo as himself in John Waters' 2004 effort A Dirty Shame, Hasselhoff defecates in an airplane's washroom.
The 2006 Adam Sandler film Click is the first film in which Hasselhoff plays a character, as Sandler's despicable boss.
In his music video for "Jump in My Car", Hasselhoff again demonstrates a penchant for self-parody, this time of 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 K.I.T.T. (this video was shot in Sydney, Australia and used a right hand drive KITT replica), including an aptly-timed use of K.I.T.T.'s seat ejection system.
The video plays to a skit where he asks one of three girls to "jump in his car" to take her home. The girl initially refuses but then gets in so long as he behaves politely.
She suggests that he should drive quickly, because she lives down south, "about 84 miles". When she insists she is not joking, he asks her to leave the vehicle, but she refuses, so he resorts to using the ejector seat to cause her to exit.
Hasselhoff presented a musical award with Gretel Killeen for the Australian Recording Industry Association on Sunday October 23, 2005 in Sydney.
He was signed to Pepsi, appearing in a massive outdoor campaign in January 2006. He toured Australia with his band in mid-2006.
Hasselhoff has also become something of an internet phenomenon, mostly as a subject of fun. Numerous websites have appeared and there is currently a campaign to get him a number one single in the UK.
In May 2006, Hasselhoff returned to the spotlight after he was mentioned in an interview of Dirk Nowitzki, an NBA star playing for the Dallas Mavericks and a native of Germany. Nowitzki was asked what he does to concentrate when shooting foul shots. Dirk replied that he sings "Looking for Freedom" to himself.
He meant this as a joke but it was thought to be a serious answer. Shortly thereafter, Hasselhoff attended the May 26, 2006 Mavericks home playoff game where they faced the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Western Conference Finals.
Interviewed by Craig Sager, Hasselhoff stated he was as much a fan of Nowitzki as Nowitzki was a fan of him. In The 2006 NBA Finals, fans of the Miami Heat in the American Airlines Arena held up facial photos of Hasselhoff and chanted his name when Nowitzki went to the foul line.
In late 2006 a musical based on his life called David Hasselhoff: The Musical opened in Australia before moving to the United States. Hasselhoff described it as "totally campy".
On August 2, 2006, Hasselhoff proclaimed himself king of the internet in a tongue-in-cheek advertisement commercial for Pipex which ironically attracted some blunt online criticism.
In September 2006 he appeared in a radio interview with Gerard Gilroy on The Breakfast Show on Dublin's Newstalk 106, pushed his book on The Tubridy Tonight Show on RTE1, and sang and spoke to Grant Lauchlan of STV, where he revealed that he would like to play a concert in the future at Scotland's Edinburgh Castle.
In November 2006, Mel Brooks announced Hasselhoff would portray Roger DeBris, the director of the Nazi musical Springtime for Hitler, in the Las Vegas production of The Producers.
Throughout the summer of 2006, Hasselhoff, along with Grammy-winning singer/actress Brandy Norwood and British media icon Piers Morgan was a co-judge on NBC's America's Got Talent, a program that showcased America's best amateur entertainers.
He also appeared in the second season of America's Got Talent alongside Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan.
After dropping out of Atlanta's Marist High School, Hasselhoff attended and graduated high school at Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Illinois. He studied at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California.
Hasselhoff was married to actress Catherine Hickland from March 24, 1984 to March 1, 1989, when they divorced. Their marriage has been recreated in Knight Rider Season 4 (Episode The Scent of Roses which first aired on January 3, 1986).
Before his divorce with Catherine Hickland, while they were separated, Hasselhoff dated Linda Butsnik, now Linda Morris, of Carrollton, Georgia.
Hasselhoff married actress Pamela Bach on December 9, 1989, and the couple had two daughters, Taylor Ann Hasselhoff (born May 5, 1990) and Hayley Amber Hasselhoff (born August 26, 1992).
Although Hasselhoff was raised Roman Catholic, he and his family attended non-denominational church services.
On January 13, 2006, Hasselhoff announced that he was filing for divorce from Bach after 16 years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. His publicist stated that the couple had agreed to an amicable settlement.
However, on March 9, 2006, Bach accused Hasselhoff of violent behaviour towards her. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark A. Juhas signed the order March 6, 2006 ordering the former Baywatch star to stay at least 100 yards (91 m) from Bach except for "peaceful contacts related to court ordered visitation" of their children.
Pamela is seeking sole custody of their two daughters.
Hasselhoff's autobiography, called "Making Waves," was released in the United Kingdom in September 2006. In an interview in April 2006, he promised that the book would present the "last chapter" regarding controversial elements of his personal life.
Regarding his popularity, David Hasselhoff has said: “There are many dying children out there whose last wish is to meet me.”
Hasselhoff is closly related to the famous George Barnes, who is well known for cycling from John O'Groats to Lands End and for numerous theatre productions with Ken Woolard.
On June 29, 2006, Hasselhoff suffered a freak injury when he hit his hand on a glass shelf (some reports say a chandelier) while shaving in his London hotel's gym bathroom.
The broken glass severed a tendon in Hasselhoff's right hand, and surgery was performed that day to repair the damage. Hasselhoff was released from the hospital the following day and was reported to be doing fine.
Hasselhoff began receiving media attention in 2002 for drinking problems. He soon after attended a rehabilitation clinic.
His problems with alcohol abuse apparently continued, as he was arrested on June 5, 2004, on suspicion of misdemeanour driving under the influence. Hasselhoff was bailed out with $15,000 and his lawyer once requested the case be continued and the arraignment was postponed to October 28, 2004.
On that court day, his lawyer entered his no contest plea while he was absent from the court hearing. He was fined $390 (due to California's "Alcohol Abuse Education and Prevention Assessment" law, and other fees, the total amount paid to the court is assumed to be over $1400), sentenced to self-supervised probation for three years, ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a week for 6 months, spend six months in a DUI program (several hundred more dollars), and to perform 200 hours of community service.
While his driver's license was restricted for the next 90 days, he could drive only to his work, to take his children to school, and to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
On July 26, 2006, tabloids reported that Hasselhoff was publicly drunk at Heathrow airport and was denied boarding a plane by British Airways. The airline only stated that a male passenger had been refused travel after being deemed unfit to travel.
The following day Hasselhoff's publicist denied the allegation of Hasselhoff being drunk claiming antibiotics had made him sick and that he voluntarily chose not to board the plane.
David's best friend - Graeme Firmin - has been quoted as saying that he "wasn't angry at the Hoff for getting drunk but he was more disappointed". He also mentioned that it wouldn't ruin their friendship.
On May 3, 2007, a video surfaced of Hasselhoff apparently in mid-stupour. The video showed him shirtless, lying on the floor, drunkenly trying to focus on a Wendy's hamburger in a Las Vegas hotel room.
His daughter Taylor Ann, who shot the video, can be heard saying "Tell me you are going to stop, tell me you are going to stop."
Hasselhoff issued a statement, in the wake of the leaked video, that it was released deliberately. Hasselhoff claims that it was filmed by Taylor Ann so that he could see how he appeared and acted when intoxicated.
Hasselhoff's visitation rights with his two daughters were suspended on May 7, 2007 because of the video; the suspension lasted until May 21, 2007, at which point the video's authenticity and distributor was determined.
Hasselhoff was awarded primary physical custody and full legal custody of the two girls, said Melvin Goldsman, his attorney on June 15th, 2007.
"Get Hasselhoff to Number 1"
On April 21, 2006 anonymous fans of David Hasselhoff launched a tongue-in-cheek website "Get Hasselhoff to Number 1" in an attempt to generate the momentum required to send the 1989 hit "Looking for Freedom" to the top of the UK music charts based on Internet downloads of the single.
The campaign is ongoing and has attracted attention on British radio and television broadcasts, the British national press and on the Internet.
When the total number of sign-ups on the site reaches 75,000 the owners of the site will send the "Hoff Alert" email to all those who have registered alerting them that the time has come to purchase the single.
The intention is that the surge in sales generated will propel the former hit to the top spot in the British chart ensuring radio plays and television appearances for Hasselhoff.
"Jump in My Car" in the UK, the "Get Hasselhoff to Number 1" website switched the single it was promoting from "Looking for Freedom" to "Jump in My Car". BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills has now lent his support to the campaign, to get "Jump In My Car" to number one.
Since this announcement, Scott Mills has played the record again, whilst describing the accompanying tongue-in-cheek music video.
On October 3, 2006 the Hoff Alert was mailed out to over 40,000 subscribers, instructing them to buy the song in hopes that it would top the UK Singles Chart. Although this did not happen, Hasselhoff promptly gained his highest ever UK chart entry (#3) on October 8, 2006.