About a year after he retired as president of Minnesota State University Moorhead, Roland Dille and his wife, Beth, were part of a “Late Show with David Letterman” segment in 1995.
Those who attended MSUM during Dille’s administration, myself included, know that when he got out of Owens Hall, he was a larger-than-life character. The story below shows that he had a pretty good sense of humor as well.
When Letterman took his show on the road to London in 1995, here’s what happened:
In a May 1995 Forum story, Christopher Sprung wrote:
As part of his nightly shtick, Letterman showed video of London street scenes and then asked the studio and viewing audiences snide questions about English culture or the subjects of the video clips.
For instance, one segment showed a woman taking a photograph. Letterman asked if the audience thought she was photographing London landmarks or Prince Charles’ ears.
Next came footage of a trash collector. Letterman asked if the audience thought the refuse was being shipped to various points in the city or just straight to New York City.
Then the gap-toothed host directed viewers to watch the man on the right of the screen. It was Dille. Does the man like fish, chips, or fish and chips? the talk show host asked.
“Naturally they were referring to the fact that I wasn’t real skinny,” says Dille, whose ample physique has been filling Santa suits for years.
Dille and his wife were in England for five weeks accompanying 35 MSU students who were studying at Oxford University, about 60 miles northwest of London.
The couple didn’t venture into the city often, but one day as the milled around Piccadilly Circus near the heart of London’s West End, they were caught by Letterman’s camera crew.
“They were looking for typically elderly English couples, I think,” Dille says. “I guess when you’re an English teacher as long as I’ve been, you begin to look English.”
The Dilles knew nothing of the incident until much later when acquaintances mentioned they’d seen the couple on the show.
Referring to famed artist Andy Warhol’s prediction that everyone will be famous for at least 15 minutes, Dille lamented that his time in the limelight had been so brief – and pointed out that he has roughly 14 minutes and 50 seconds coming to him.