'Knight Rider's' David Hasselhoff and the (almost) perfect life

By Patricia Nolan
TV Magazine
December 18, 1983

David Hasselhoff, star of the hit series Knight Rider says he's lived an incredibly charmed and lucky life since the day he was born 31 years ago.

The actor gleefully admits - several times, in fact - that he's "six-foot-four, an all American guy, and handsome and talented as well".

Because he's been blessed with such an abundance of physical attributes, Hasselhoff has embarked upon a one-man campaign to help those who are less fortunate than himself - and he is definitely sincere about what he's doing. In his free time, Hasselhoff visits sick and dying children in hospitals all across the country. And he frequently invites a terminally-ill child to spend the day with him on the Knight Rider set.

"A lot of times, people in the press are trying to find bad, negative things to write about me," complains the actor. "People are always trying to find dirt about me to spIash on the front of their newspapers. It really freaks me out."

"For the past three years, l've been visiting sick children in different hospitals, doing my best to cheer them up and bring some happiness into their lives. I enjoy making personal appearances at hospitals, but I haven't discussed the hospital visits publically - until now. As 'michael Knight', I am a hero to these kids, a modern-day Lone Ranger".

"There are many dying children out there whose last wish is to meet me. So being a hero to tese kids is a big responsibility for me. After all, I've lead the perfect life, and not many people can say that. I was spoiled rotten as a child and I had an ideal childhood. My Dad gave me cars to drive when I was a teenager. I've been successful in acting, l'm good-looking, and I make a bit of money."

"Now, people are giving me a lot of adulation because they see me on television every week and they think I'm special. All my life I've been healthy, and I have so much goign for me. That's why I want to give a little back in return, by cheering up these dying children, and by giving them special attention."

Hasselhoff, who has been asked to be a spokeman for the Big Brothers Organization, says visiting sick children is a regular part of his life now.

"I've visited kids who have rare and terrible diseases, kids who are dying of cancer, kids who are mentally retarded. They all give me unadulterated love in return. When I visit them, I give them an autographed picture of myself, plus other Knight Rider memorabilia.

"My fame is for a reason - I believe I was put on Earth, not just to be rich and famous, but to help these kids feel better about themselves before they die. One little boy I visited died shortly after I met him, and he was buried in his Knight Rider jacket.

Hasselhoff, who co-starred in the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless, before he made it big in prime time television, visited South Africa a few months ago, even though his fellow actors warned him not to go to that controversial country.

"I'm not poiltical whatsoever, and I went to South Africa without thinking about politics at all," says hasselhoff. "Knight Rider is the number one television show in that country, and a lot of people black and white, wanted to meet me. I did a tour of 19 cities, and loved every minute of it!"

"It makes me angry when celbrities are criticized for going to South Africa. Linda Ronstadt was criticized for doing a concert there, but why not? I went over there as a human being, just like her."

"I visited a hospital in Cape town where there were all black children. They all said to me, 'We love you, Michael Knight!' The kids smiled at me and hung my pictures all over the walls, above their beds."

I walked onto a segregated bus, even though people warned me not to. I said, "Hasselhoff can't go on that bus, but 'Michael Knight' can!" There were only black people on the bus, and they began hugging me and kissing me."

"I mean, forget all that political bullshit. Why bring in politics? The people living in South Africa, black and white, are all human beings, and that was my only thought while I was there. Everywhere I went, and I visited all the major cities, my audience was filled with blacks, white, Indians - everyone. I don't care if I was criticized, I'm glad I went there, and I'd love to go back again."

Hasselhoff, who is engaged to beautiful Catherine Hickland, who stars on the soap opera Capitol, says he is definitely not a Hollywood playboy.

"I love the life I share with Catherine. Sure, it's tough sometimes, having two busy careers in one household, and last year, we even broke up for a while because the stress and strain became too much. But now Catherine and I are back together again, very much in love, and we plan to get married next year. We're thinking of getting married in Hawaii, possibly in February. I love her and want to be with her for the rest of my life."

"Catherine and I met three years agoin New York City at the Daytime Emmy Awards. At first, she didn't like me because she thought I looked like a Ken doll! But I manged to get her telephone number, and we became close very fast!"

"I always thank God for the wonderful life I've led. Sometimes I even feel guilty because I've never had to struggle or go hungry. The worst thing that ever happened to me was when my manager, Joyce Setznick, died of cancer a couple of years ago. As she lay dying on her hospital bed, I said to her 'I will be the star you always said I would be.' Joyce discovered me and promoted me, and I didn't want to let her n."

"It's fun being a teen idol. When I was on The Young and the Restless, I used to get fan mail from lonely divorcees, women who were looking for a special man in their lives. But now, I get 16,000 letters every week from kids everywhere, and I think that's great!"

"Knight Rider was turned down by eight producers before the show finally went on the air. I was told to be funny and charming, and that the car was the star of the show! Sure, there are a lot of funny and charming guys on television, including Tom Selleck and John Schneider. But I don't worry about my career. I believe in myself and I know I'll be around for a long, long time."

Hasselhoff says his most negative fault is that he "hurts the people I love the most."

"I do it unintentionally, but I do it just the same," he admits.

"When Catherine and I first started going around together, she put up with a lot of crap from me.After we broke up, and got back together again, I turned over a new leaf, and now I'm more considerate of her feelings. I'm really fortunate to have her back with me!"

"For some reason, I often disappoint and hurt the people I love the most. I don't do it on purpose, but I find myself doing it just the same, and it's a fault I really have to work on."

"But overall, I am thrilled with the way my life has gone. I don't want to become a pushy, arrogant celebrity, who only cares about himself. I was put on this Earth to help others, and I never want to forget that, no matter how rich or famous I become!"

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