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

by Madison Miller

If you were a longtime fan of the “Late Show with David Letterman,” Tony Mendez would likely stand out to you.

He was better known by Letterman as the “cue card boy.” Over the show’s long stint on TV, Mendez had grown to be one of the iconic and lovable regular onscreen presences alongside the late-night star. He was an oddball character with a hilarious personality.

Tony Mendez, Iconic Cue Card Boy

Unfortunately, it was recently announced that Tony Mendez passed away at the age of 76 on July 29, according to Deadline. He was at his Miami Beach home at the time of his passing. Andrew Corbin, his former companion, confirmed his death. The cause of death is unknown at this time.

David Letterman was well-known for having his behind-the-scenes workers join him on the late-night stage. His stage manager, Biff Henderson, the announcer, Alan Kalter, and his assistant, Stephanie Birkitt, were all regulars on the program.

Tony Mendez stood out especially. The Havana, Cuba worker had spent a total of 21 years alongside David Letterman. He even hosted his own series of online videos that he called “The Tony Mendez Show.” He started his gig back when the show was on NBC and became full-time in 1993 when “Late Night with David Letterman” moved to CBS. He stayed with the show until 2014.

Mendez was also a cue card handler for “Saturday Night Live” before joining Letterman. You may even recognize him from his stint on Broadway as a dancer. He was in many different productions during the 1970s and 1980s, including “Pippin” and “Irene.”

Tony Mendez Fired from Show

According to The New York Times, his fascinating time on the show ended in a negative way. His full-time gig ended in 2014, one year before Letterman’s retirement, after Mendez physically assaulted Bill Scheft. He was one of the writers for the show. It all had to do with a cue card change.

“It was an unfortunate way to end his time at the show, and a sad way to end a 22-year friendship,” Scheft said to the news outlet when the incident occurred in 2014.

Mendez was a master of his craft. He helped change the atmosphere on “Saturday Night Live” when he was there. “It was the most stressful job I ever had. 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,” he said to The New Yorker in 2001.

When he switched over to work with David Letterman, the two formed a close bond. That all changed when he was fired, unfortunately.