Celebrating 35 Years of Wondering Why Crispin Glover Almost Kicked David Letterman in the Face
The late-night talk show weirdo guest is a cultural staple that’s almost as old as the late-night format itself. Long before modern oddballs like Aubrey Plaza and Tracy Morgan captivated confused studio audiences with their rambling non sequiturs and delirious demeanors, one eccentric celebrity shocked the late-night world with an unhinged interview and an infamous high kick that came dangerously close to knocking the smirk off of David Letterman’s face.
On a fateful July night in 1987, Back to the Future star Crispin Glover appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman wearing a long, flowing wig, six-inch platform boots and pinstriped pants. Glover brought with him a suitcase full of newspaper clippings and an air of unpredictability as he stuttered and stammered through a rant about the media’s portrayal of his off-kilter personality, which culminated in Glover challenging his host to an arm-wrestling competition and, upon Letterman declining, delivering a historic high-kick that missed the late-night legend’s face by mere inches.
After Glover swung his platform boot by Letterman’s nose, the host walked off the set and sent the show to commercial — when he returned, Glover was gone, and the 35-year speculation on the incident officially began. Immediately following the kick, many media outlets hypothesized that Glover had taken LSD before the appearance, while others later believed the stunt to have been planned by Glover as a very early in-character promotion of his 1991 film Rubin & Ed, wherein Glover’s character, Rubin Farr, has a suspiciously similar demeanor to Glover’s Late Show personality.
Glover himself has refused to reveal many details about the decision behind the kick, even on his many subsequent appearances on The Late Show. Glover has given little more explanation for the incident than the simple reason that anyone gives for going on a late night show — he did it for publicity. When he gets asked questions about the kick these decades later, his answer to the enduring query of “Why in the world would you do that?” is simply, “I neither confirm nor deny that I was ever on the David Letterman show."
To which Letterman might respond, “I neither confirm nor deny that Crispin Glover wears size 12 shoes and has pupils the size of dinner plates.”