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David Michael Hasselhoff (born July 17, 1952), nicknamed “The Hoff”, is an American actor, singer, producer, and businessman, who set a Guinness World Record as the most watched man on TV. 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 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, and 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 childhood in Jacksonville, Florida, and later lived in Atlanta, Georgia, where he attended Marist School. Hasselhoff made his theatrical debut at the age of 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. His feature film debut was in 1974 as “Boner” in Revenge of the Cheerleaders which he did to get accredited into the Screen Actors Guild. At the time, he believed that the film would not be released, but it was: two years later, also appearing under the title Caught with their Pants Down. 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 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.
His music career took off in the late 1980s and achieved success at the tops of the charts, with his album Looking for Freedom which went triple platinum in Europe. He had one #1 hit in the German pop charts in spring of 1989 (“Looking for Freedom”). He was noted for his performance of the single at the Berlin Wall on New Year’s Eve 1989, two months after the East German government had opened the wall, but nine months before unification took place. Wearing a piano-keyboard scarf and a leather jacket covered in motion lights, Hasselhoff stood in a bucket crane and performed the song along with the crowd. The performance has had a lasting impact on German pop-culture with Hasselhoff commenting that the song became an “anthem” and “song of hope” for the people of East Germany. In 2004, Hasselhoff lamented the lack of a photo of him in the Checkpoint Charlie Museum in Berlin.
Hasselhoff’s autobiography Making Waves was released in the UK in September 2006. In an interview in April 2006, he said the book would present the “last chapter” regarding controversial elements of his personal life.
In November 2015, Hasselhoff posted a YouTube video in which he announced that he had changed his name to “David Hoff”. It was then reported that he was not changing his name; that the video was an excerpt from an upcoming advertising campaign.
After touring Glasgow in late 2015, Hasselhoff with his height at 6 ft 4.5 in (1.94 m), stated that he supports Scottish football team Partick Thistle F.C..