August 20, 2016 - 8:30 AM
REGINA - A Saskatchewan gas jockey who got quite a bit more than 15 minutes of fame after appearing on David Letterman's "The Late Show" because of his unusual last name has died.
A posting on the website of Regina's Speers Funeral Chapel says Dick Assman died Monday at the age of 82.
In 1995, a Petro-Canada gas station owner placed an advertisement to let customers know that Assman — a German name properly pronounced OSS-man — had moved from one outlet to another.
The ad caught the attention of "The Late Show" staff and touched off a Letterman-fuelled craze of "Assmania." The name became a running gag for the TV talk show host and Assman travelled to New York to appear on stage to the delighted screams of studio audience members.
Assman, who was born Richard Arthur Assman, was still pumping gas when Letterman retired last year and he had vivid memories of meeting Letterman on the show in New York.
"When I went on the stage, that was something else,'' Assman told The Canadian Press in a May 2015 interview. "You walk on there, everybody is hollering.
"It was great. Everything was first class. I enjoyed it.''
Letterman initially brought the name to his audience's attention by saying he knew it wasn't fair to make fun of it. But he added: "I don't know that I've ever met a man named Assman."
The next night he continued to riff on the name with his band leader and sidekick Paul Shaffer, a Canadian.
"Is Assman a Canadian name?" Letterman asked Shaffer.
"No, I don't know any Assmen myself," Shaffer deadpanned.
Letterman then called Assman in Regina and chatted with him long enough to find out the gas jockey didn't mind the friendly joke, attended horse races for fun and also enjoyed watching baseball and football.
"A very nice man," Letterman concluded.
Ray Assman said the joke led to international celebrity status for his older brother. The name was emblazoned on T-shirts, pens and bumper stickers. He even received a marriage proposal.
But fame never went to his brother's head, he said.
"If he won the lottery, he wouldn't change his lifestyle. All he has ever done is work all his life,'' he said.
Dick Assman said at the time he hadn't kept any of the merchandise featuring his name.
"I'm still doing the same thing I did before. I've got the same friends. I'm still working.''
He wished Letterman good luck and a happy retirement.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016