Richest CelebritiesRichest Comedians
Net Worth:
$4 Million
Feb 4, 1936 - Mar 15, 2014 (78 years old)
United States of America
💰 Compare David Brenner's Net Worth
Table of ContentsExpand
  1. Early Life
  2. Career
  3. Personal Life
  4. Death

What Was David Brenner's Net Worth?

David Brenner was an American comedian, author, actor, director, and producer who had a net worth of $4 million at the time of his death in 2014. David Brenner starred in four HBO stand-up comedy specials, including 2000's "David Brenner: Back with a Vengeance!" (which he also produced), and he released the comedy albums "Excuse Me, Are You Reading That Paper?" (1983) and "Leave 'Em Laughing" (2009). Before going into comedy, Brenner wrote, produced, or directed more than 100 television documentaries, winning an Emmy for his work. David made his TV debut on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" in 1971 and went on to become the late night talk show's most frequent guest, with more than 150 appearances.

As an actor, Brenner appeared in the films "Worth Winning" (1989) and "Chickboxin' Underground" (1999) and guest-starred on "Arli$$" (2001) and "Modern Family" (2010). He was ranked #53 on Comedy Central's 2004 list of the "100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time." David published his first book, "Soft Pretzels With Mustard," in 1983, and he followed it with 1984's "Revenge is the Best Exercise," 1986's "Nobody Ever Sees You Eat Tuna Fish," 1990's "If God Wanted Us to Travel…," and 2003's "I Think There's a Terrorist in My Soup: How to Survive Personal and World Problems with Laughter—Seriously." Brenner was also a radio host, and he was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in 2003. Sadly, David died of pancreatic cancer on March 15, 2014, at the age of 78.

Early Life

David Brenner was born David Norris Brenner on February 4, 1936 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. David's parents were Jewish, and his father, Louis, adopted the stage name Lou Murphy for his career as a vaudeville comedian, dancer, and singer. Louis gave up his career to please his father, a rabbi who didn't want him to work on the Sabbath. After Brenner found success, he often sent his parents on cruises, and they both ended up dying on the Queen Elizabeth 2, two years apart. In high school, David was voted "Class Comedian" and was elected class president every year. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army for two years, working as a cryptographer for the 595th Signal Corps in Germany. After he was discharged, Brenner majored in mass communication at Temple University, graduating with honors.


David began his career writing, producing, or directing 115 TV documentaries, and he was the head of the documentary units at Metromedia and Westinghouse Broadcasting. He won more than two dozen awards for his documentary work, including an Emmy. His first paid comedy gig took place at The Improv in mid-1969, then he began performing frequently at Greenwich Village clubs. Brenner was the most frequent guest on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," and he served as a guest-host on the show 75 times. He also appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Dean Martin Comedy World," "American Bandstand," "The Midnight Special," "The Merv Griffin Show," "The Arsenio Hall Show," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," "Late Show with David Letterman," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and "Comics Unleashed." In 1983, David released his debut comedy album, "Excuse Me, Are You Reading That Paper?" and his first book, "Soft Pretzels With Mustard."

In 1976, Brenner was cast in the lead role on the NBC sitcom "Snip," which was inspired by the 1975 comedy film "Shampoo." The network shelved the series before it ever aired because executives were nervous about how people would react to one of the supporting characters being gay. David later said of the show's demise, "They made up all kinds of excuses, but the reason 'Snip' was pulled is we had an actor who was gay and who played a gay part. They were afraid to have a gay on television." In 1986, Brenner hosted "Nightlife," a syndicated late-night talk show that lasted one season. From 1994 to 1996, he was the host of a daytime talk-radio show on the Mutual Broadcasting System. David had previously hosted the 1985 syndicated weekly radio program "David Brenner Live." In 1984, the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia honored Brenner as their Person of the Year, and he was inducted into the organization's Hall of Fame in 2003. David played himself in a 2001 episode of HBO's "Arli$$" and a 2010 episode of ABC 's "Modern Family, and he appeared in the documentaries "When Stand-Up Comics Ruled the World" (2004), "The Aristocrats" (2005), and "When Jews Were Funny" (2013).

David Brenner

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Personal Life

David was married to Geraldine Leno from June 1964 to December 1967. He had a son, Cole, with Charisse Brody in the '80s, and he and Charisse were embroiled in a custody battle for years, with Brenner winning custody in 1992. Since he would've been considered an absentee father by family courts if he spent over 50 nights a year away from home, David reduced the number of comedy shows he took part in. Brenner wed Elizabeth Slater during the filming of his "Back with a Vengeance!" HBO special on February 19, 2000. Before getting married, they welcomed sons Slade (born 1995) and Wyatt (born 1998) together, and their 2003 divorce led to two custody battles, which David won. Brenner became engaged to Tai Babilonia in 2005, but they split up before making it to the altar. David married Ruth Davey on March 7, 2011, and they remained together until Brenner's death in March 2014.


On March 15, 2014, David passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 78 at his Manhattan home. "Page Six" reported on Brenner's last will and testament, stating that it read, "All I want is a small stone on the grave site with these words; 'Here lies David Brenner. He lived, he died, but MAN DID HE LIVE!'" David also wrote, "On the flip side I want 'If this is supposed to be a joke — I don't get it.'"

Brenner left $500,000 to fashion designer Kenneth Cole (a close friend) and everything else to his children. He also said that he wanted to be laid to rest in New York City "because this is the city of my dreams, my best times, my heart and my life." Of the funeral, Brenner stated, "I give my full permission to any comedians who may think of a funny line while at the funeral to use it in his act, for I know how difficult it is to write good material. However, if any comedians are overheard doing any of my lines at the funeral, they are to be put in the box with me."

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