LOS ANGELES, AUG. 19 -- Actress Martha Raye filed a $10 million defamation suit today against David Letterman and the producers of his television show, alleging they had implied she uses condoms.
Raye, a former Broadway star and singer now known for her denture cream commercials, was mentioned in Letterman's opening monologue on the March 5 broadcast of "Late Night With David Letterman," the suit contends.
Letterman, known for his irreverent humor, said, "I saw the most terrifying commercial on television last night featuring Martha Raye, actress, condom user ... What the hell is ..." according to the suit.
The suit contends Letterman was about to say, "What the hell is funny about that," as if questioning his own humor.
A spokesperson for the law firm that represents Carson Productions, producers of the Letterman show, had no comment on the suit.
NBC officials were unavailable for comment.
The suit contends Letterman's remarks falsely implied that Raye is "sexually promiscuous and unchaste," "has frequent intercourse or relations with persons infected or exposed to AIDS," and "personally uses condoms in some form of deviant, aberrant or socially unacceptable ... behavior."
Raye's suit also contends the remarks implied she endorses condoms in commercials.
"Ms. Raye, in fact, is not a condom user," the suit said.
Raye's suit contends that a retraction Letterman broadcast April 1 explaining that his remark was a "goof" of a Polident commercial in which Raye appears "was insufficient."