David Hasselhoff alias Michael Knight | Sunday Observer

David Hasselhoff alias Michael Knight

19 September, 2021

Have you heard about the name David Hasselhoff? If you do not, you might hear about the name Michael Knight. He is the hero of the famous TV show ‘Knight Rider’ to which people in Sri Lanka were highly addicted to watch almost forty years ago.

Though his name constantly appears in American and European media, it was not so in Sri Lanka. For instance, in this Covid pandemic he came forward to persuade people to get vaccinated. He joined hands with the German health ministry by releasing a video calling on people to be vaccinated against the Coronavirus.

The video makes a play on Hasselhoff’s 1989 ‘Looking for Freedom’ album, which was popular in Germany after its title song became a soundtrack for the fall of the Berlin Wall. But the news was not published in any of our media in Sri Lanka. In this backdrop, it is worthwhile to look into the life of this famous actor David Hasselhoff.

Early life

David Michael Hasselhoff was born on July 17, 1952 in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States as the second child of the family – he has four sisters, namely Daine, Joyce, Lisa and Jean. His parents are Dolores Therese (Mullinex) and Joe Hasselhoff (Joseph Vincent Hasselhoff), a business executive. He has English, German and Irish ancestry - his paternal grandfather was a German. His nickname is Hoff, and he is 6’ 4”.

Hasselhoff first attended Marist High School in Atlanta, Georgia. As he was not a bright student, he was transferred to Lyons Township High School in the Chicago suburbs where he successfully graduated in 1970. There he was also listed in the Alumni Hall of Fame - a plaque with his image is on display on the Wall of Fame in the main corridor of the high school.

Acting life

The acting bug first hit when David was seven, and so he took acting, singing and dancing lessons. According to his biographical notes, he was very shy off stage in front of girls because he was tall and thin, but when he was on stage he was in his element. As he was interested in acting, singing and dancing, he attended the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Michigan and the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. In 1973, he landed a regular role on the soap opera ‘The Young and The Restless’ in which he portrayed the popular ‘Dr. Snapper Foster’ for six seasons.

Knight Rider

Lured by NBC’s Brandon Tartikoff to move from daytime to prime time, Hasselhoff went on to star as ‘Michael Knight’ in NBC’s hit series Knight Rider (1982). The role garnered him a “People’s Choice Award” for most popular actor and the show became a huge success overseas.

By this time Television media had reached Sri Lanka and the Knight Rider series was also telecast on our first Television channel ITN. Thus, we also had the opportunity to watch this adventurous tele-series and became familiar with the unique character Michael Knight, who fights all types of crimes and misdeeds with the help of a high-tech intelligence super car called KITT. In fact, Michael Knight and his supercar KIT became a symbol of the young generation of Sri Lanka at the time. So, young people started to imitate Michael Knight’s hair style, his denim trouser, jacket and his watch. Even toys of KITT were also available in the market those days.


Knight Rider ended in 1986, and its success resulted in Hasselhoff’s landing another popular role on another hit Baywatch tele-series in 1989 which was also telecast on Sri Lanka’s Television media.

There Hasselhoff played Mitch Buchannon, the leader of a group of lifeguards in California apart from producing the series. Though it enjoyed good ratings, the network cancelled the series after only one season.

Undeterred, Hasselhoff and his partners acquired the rights to the show and based on Hasselhoff’s popularity overseas they could secure financing and revive Baywatch in 1991. Now a piece of American pop culture and an international television phenomenon, Baywatch (1989) was at its peak seen in 140 countries by over one billion viewers each week.

The series ran until 2000 and launched two spinoff series.

Thanks to starring roles in both Knight Rider (1982) and Baywatch (1989) David Hasselhoff was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “The Most Watched TV Star in the World”.

Music career

Right from the beginning David had been attracted to music, but because of his busy acting life he was unable to embark on the music field. However, his recognition in the Knight Rider helped him to start his music career releasing his debut album in 1984 as Night Rocker which had middling sales in the US.

However, in Austria the record had topped the charts. Similarly popular in Germany, The Hoff, as he is affectionately dubbed, was soon touring regularly in the German-speaking region. Thus, in 1989 he released his album ‘Looking For Freedom’ in 1989 which remained in the number one spot on the German charts for eight consecutive weeks, apart from famously performing it on New Year’s Eve 1989 at the Berlin Wall. Thereafter, he continued to perform regularly in concert and has released nine albums to date. His latest album titled Party Your Hasselhoff was released in 2019, and its title indicates that the entertainer, who is nearing 70, doesn’t have any plans of slowing down.

Stage work

Hasselhoff made his debut on Broadway in Jekyll and Hyde in 2000, playing the title character. Since then, he has appeared in a number of different theatrical productions, including a run in The Producers in Las Vegas in 2007, and he played the role Dr. Frank N. Furter in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, a Broadway theatre work, as well.

‘America’s Got Talent’

In 2006, Hasselhoff appeared on the ‘America’s Got Talent’ series as a judge. He sat alongside Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne for four seasons before leaving in 2010. That same year, Hasselhoff showed off his fancy footwork as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. He competed against the likes of Bristol Palin, Florence Henderson and Michael Bolton.

Hasselhoff continues to work in theater and television, often making cameos in various productions. In 2012, he performed a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Fewstival and competed in an Australian version of The Celebrity Apprentice. Then he surfaced in the cult comedy-horror flicks Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015) and Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (2016) as the father of Ian Ziering’s shark-fighting hero, before making an appearance in the 2017 Baywatch movie.

Married life

Hasselhoff was first married to actress Catherine Hickland in the 1980s, but their union ended in divorce within five years. In 1989 he married beautiful actress Pamela Bach, with whom he had daughters Taylor and Hayley. But it also ended in divorce in 2006. The actor later began dating model Hayley Roberts, and then married her on July 31, 2018, in Italy at the age of 66.

Though David Hasselhoff’s name has disappeared from the generation of 80s in Sri Lanka, the name Michael Knight will never disappear from them as it was such a phenomenon in Sri Lanka. They might not have seen or heard his other artistic works, but, despite the fact that they are Sinhala monolingual, they still love Michael Knight in Knight Rider.