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How David Letterman's late "Cue Card Boy" Tony Mendez became involved with cue cards

  • Mendez, who died last month at age 76, was personally hired by Barney McNulty -- who is credited with being the first person in television to use cue cards -- to turn cards on 1960s shows including The Lucy Show and Hollywood Palace, writes The New York Times' Richard Sandomir writes in Mendez's obituary. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Mendez took a detour into dancing, performing on Broadway and in musical production touring companies. In 1984, he returned to flipping cards by joining SNL, where he stayed for nine years. “It was the most stressful job I ever had,” he told The New Yorker. “The hosts were totally freaked out. They would all try to memorize, and I would tell them that the script was going to be changing until the last minute, so they had to follow me.” In 1993, he succeeded his companion, Marty Zone, who had been diagnosed with HIV five years earlier, as Letterman’s cue card man. "Mr. Mendez’s relationship with Mr. Letterman was, he once recalled, unusually strong — until he was fired," writes Sandomir. “Nobody talks to him the way I do and he welcomes it because everybody is so afraid of him,” Mr. Mendez told Time Out. “And he knows he’ll get the truth from me.”

    TOPICS: Tony Mendez, Late Show with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live