Bald Santa: David Letterman's striking retirement look

Story highlights

  • New photos show a bald, heavily bearded David Letterman
  • The retired late-night host did his final show in May 2015

(CNN)Whoa, David Letterman -- is that you? It's been only 10 months since the late-night host did his farewell show on CBS, but he already looks quite ... different.

    New photos of Letterman jogging on the Caribbean island of St. Barts show a bald, heavily bearded guy who's almost unrecognizable as the gap-toothed jester who spent 33 years smirking at guests on national TV. More than one commenter has noted his sudden resemblance to a certain red-suited Christmas icon.
    Letterman's surprising retirement look
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    Letterman, 68, has kept mostly a low profile since retiring in May 2015. He made a cameo at the Indy 500, attended Michael J. Fox's benefit to fight Parkinson's disease in New York in November and then showed up a few weeks later for an onstage chat at his alma mater, Ball State.
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    Once active on Twitter, he hasn't tweeted since last July, when he made a surprise appearance at a San Antonio, Texas, show by fellow comedians Martin Short and Steve Martin. Letterman read aloud a special Top 10 list about Donald Trump (No. 10: "That thing on his head was the gopher in 'Caddyshack.'") and joked that in retiring only weeks before Trump entered the presidential race he had "made the biggest mistake of my life."
    Letterman has appeared in public before with his silver, increasingly bushy beard. And "retirement beards" are nothing new among men of a certain age, of course. Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart grew them last year after wrapping their Comedy Central shows, and Al Gore famously sprouted one after losing the disputed 2000 presidential election.
    But Letterman's chrome dome is a more recent look for him. His hairline has been receding for years and he sometimes joked on the air about wearing a hairpiece. It's unclear whether he actually did, although some might say his latest appearance answers that question.
    Judging by the new photos, though, retirement may be agreeing with the notoriously cranky host. As people noted on Twitter, he looks happy.