The Telegraph Interviews David Hasselhoff

HOW DID YOUR CHILDHOOD INFLUENCE YOUR WORK ETHIC?My parents, Joe, a business exec, and Dolores, a stay-at-home mum, were very encouraging of my acting aspirations from a young age, as we moved around the States from Florida to Georgia to Illinois.My mother has said "the biggest challenge was keeping David busy". Whether it was acting classes, singing tuition, skating, I was completely full-on. My first real acting job was as Nibs in Peter Pan when I was eight. Since then I've rarely missed a gig. I realised a long time ago that to make it in this business it takes an immense amount of commitment, hard work and sacrifice.HAS THERE EVER BEEN A TIME WHEN YOU FELT LIKE THE TYPICAL STRUGGLING ACTOR AND YOU DIDN'T KNOW HOW YOU WERE GOING TO MAKE ENDS MEET?Thankfully, no. I left home after my junior year in high school to go to the California Institute of the Arts, which was founded by Walt Disney, after which I got my first big gig on The Young and The Restless for seven years from 1975.I went from that into Knight Rider for four years until 1986, my singing in Europe, then I did Baywatch for 10 years, which, despite some people's derision, Guinness World Records has ranked as the most-watched television show ever.[International reruns and syndication rights of Knight Rider and Baywatch have helped propel Hasselhoff's net worth to more than $100m/£65m] While everyone's making fun of me, I'm just sitting back and going, "Money!"WERE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW SUCCESSFUL YOUR SINGING CAREER WAS IN EUROPE?No, it wasn't really a surprise. I'm a different person to most celebrities – I like to jump in and I'm gracious with my fans, and I think people really appreciate manners like that.WAS BUYING THE RIGHTS TO BAYWATCH FROM NBC WHEN THEY CANCELLED IT AFTER JUST ONE SEASON YOUR BEST BUSINESS DECISION?Yes, definitely. I don't know if it was a bold move or just the obvious, but I have a keen sense of recognising what will work and what won't.I invested my own money and became executive producer, as well as having my contract stipulate that royalties were to be paid to me from the profits, which ultimately gave me the chance to buy the syndication rights from NBC. That was unheard of in the Nineties.We worked really hard to get it to take off, but on the back of my ongoing popularity from Knight Rider, I went all over the US selling Baywatch to advertisers. At the time a lot of ad executives were females, so I played to that, and we were able to secure enough advertising to keep the show on the air. It ended up lasting for 11 years, which set the pace for a lot of long-running shows to come.THE NETWORK EXECUTIVES MUST HAVE BEEN KICKING THEMSELVES WHEN IT TOOK OFF, THEN?Yes, but it was too late by then for them to be able to do anything about it. They weren't the nicest people to deal with and they forgot the three words that I like to have in all my shows – heart, humour and action. That's what Baywatch and Knight Rider were all about. You have no idea how people at a network will think, but ultimately they're all looking to save their job. It's a corporate entity that's not based on creativity.IS THERE ANYTHING THAT HASN'T PANNED OUT AS YOU WOULD HAVE LIKED?Yes, I wish I'd had more roles that were a bit more serious. As much as the popularity of Knight Rider and Baywatch has been the making of my career and I've made a lot of money from them, they haven't exactly given me the critical acclaim I'm after, so I feel like I'm constantly fighting for recognition. I'd really like to get involved in something with a bit of bite.ARE YOU A SAVER OR A SPENDER?I'm a spender for sure. I don't save anything; I just go for it. My priority is taking care of my family, especially my two girls, Taylor, 21, and Hayley, 19. I work incredibly hard and part of the reason why is so I can spend money on the people I love. I love to travel more than anything else – I'm not long back from safari with my girlfriend.ARE YOU MORE OF A CASH, DEBIT OR CREDIT CARD TYPE OF PERSON?Credit card, definitely, as I find it more simple to keep track of things because I'm so busy; all over the place.AND WHAT SORT OF TIPPER ARE YOU?It depends really on the country and the person. I'm usually an excellent tipper, but I've been chastised over here for being too generous. I think they work hard for their money. I used to be a waiter for the Great American Food and Beverage Company when I came out of high school (it was one of the first chains where you could sing as a waiter), so I know what it's like to have to take that abuse from customers.DO YOU INVEST IN STOCKS AND SHARES?No, right now the biggest thing I'm investing in is David Hasselhoff, the brand, which is part of the reason I got involved in Celebrity Fastcards with Clintons because it's a fun way of reaching a wide range of my fans through video messaging. They're onto a winner, especially with my Christmas-themed ones. Right now I'm moving as a fast as I can because I still feel 20 years old and want to conquer the world before my time runs out. I haven't a clue where I'll be in two years, but I'm still hungry for what's over the hill and I'm living life to the full.IS THERE ANYTHING YOU'D CHANGE ABOUT THE WAY YOU'VE DONE BUSINESS?Yes, I'd advise anyone to be completely hands-on with your money. It's something I didn't do through the years and I'm still not completely on top of things, so I'm losing money where I shouldn't be.If you don't know where your money is or is going, then the people "in charge" of it can be quite fast and loose with it.I'm now a lot more careful scrutinising bills, such as a hotel bill, as often there are clerical errors that amount to maybe £40 or £50 or £60 and, after a while, that all adds up. It pays to be vigilant.HOW DID YOU FIND A FINANCIAL ADVISER WHO YOU FELT WAS LOOKING OUT FOR YOU?I could have done a lot better over the years, but I think I'm better at weeding out the bad ones. I hire people I care about and that I know are honest. I've frittered away a lot of money, but I don't worry about it any more. I make enough to allow me to travel and take care of my kids, and put clothes on my back, and that's all that matters. The rest is a bunch of c---. When you die, you can't take your money with you.Celebrity Fastcards from Clintons, a new range of celebrity video greeting cards, is out now

By Sarah Ewing8:00AM GMT 18 Dec 2011The Telegraph