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Last Updated: Friday, 15 September 2006, 07:15 GMT 08:15 UK
The celebrity power of the Hoff
David Hasselhoff
Hasselhoff is a self-confessed self-promoter
From leather-clad cop with talking car to hunk in trunks, David Hasselhoff is the most watched television star in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records.

He was at the heart of two massive TV shows, Knight Rider and Baywatch, which are still watched by audiences around the globe.

He has used his TV fame to promote his singing career, sometimes performing as his Knight Rider character Michael Knight and his car Kitt, on stage.

And he enjoys cult status in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, where he has sold some nine million records.

More recently Hasselhoff has become something of an international figure of fun, especially among the internet community, where there are legions of appreciation websites devoted to the Hoff aka the Hoffmeister.

Perhaps it is because he still looks like he is stuck in an 1980s US TV show, with his big hair, cheesy grin, Malibu beach tan, macho manner and taste for all things leather.

Or maybe it is because the English-speaking world finds it hilarious that he has found fame as a rock star in Austria and Germany of all places.

Does he get the joke? It seems he does. As the self-confessed self-publicist that he is, he has been laughing all the way to the bank.

Self-promoter

But there is more than one side to David Hasselhoff, he told BBC World Service's The Interview programme.

Hasselhoff as Michael Knight in Knight Rider
Knight Rider is still broadcast around the world

"I look at David Hasselhoff as the producer, David Hasselhoff the writer and so I promote my little team of Hasselhoffs," he explained.

He quotes his ex-wife in his recently released autobiography who describes him as the greatest self-promoting man on the planet.

He is due to appear in a musical about his life called David Hasselhoff: The Musical, which he has described as "totally campy".

The idea came after Hasselhoff appeared in an Australian talk show where the producers went to town with his moniker.

He said: "They had all these Desperate Hoffwives, Ferris Bueller's Day Hoff. They had me as the Hoff Father...they had everything.

"I said: 'You want to play?' I took off my shirt and said: 'Don't hassle the Hoff'."

His self-parody sparked a barrage of emails to the TV station and the following day, a senior promoter called him with the offer of creating Hoff, the musical.

"It all came because of the internet," he said.

Fame

Riding the crest of his current web stardom and trading on his celebrity status, he has appeared in a tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign for internet provider Pipex.

His ability to poke fun at himself has seen him make several film cameos, such as in Dodgeball in which he plays the German dodgeball team coach.

If you chase fame and you can use it in a positive way, if you can bring a kid out of a coma by saying you're Michael Knight, it's worth the whole damn thing
David Hasselhoff

"I don't really care if they don't take me seriously," he said. "As long as they are getting fun and enjoying it. That's what it's called: entertainment."

He is grateful for what fame has given him. Without it, he said he would never have danced with the Maasai in Africa, discussed Baywatch with President Clinton during a jog, or performed on the Berlin Wall as Communism crumbled beneath him in 1989.

Asked if he believed most people in the world know who he is, Hasselhoff said: "Yes - absolutely. It sure seems that way wherever I go.

"I've got 11 years of Baywatch and four years of Knight Rider and so somewhere sometime in this planet one of my shows is going to be playing."

It is not always clear which Hasselhoff is talking: Hasselhoff, the family man, or his Hoff alter ego.

He recalled how he woke a British boy from a coma after a cassette recording of him as Michael Knight urging the child to wake up was played at his hospital bedside.

"If you chase fame and you can use it in a positive way, if you can bring a kid out of a coma by saying you're Michael Knight, it's worth the whole damn thing," he said.

"That's the power you can have. It's amazing. So fame is good in a way."


SEE ALSO
Hasselhoff 'not drunk' at airport
28 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Hasselhoff bows out of pantomime
19 Jun 06 |  Entertainment

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