Before he spun surname truncation and self-parody into a viable career, David Hasselhoff was known for playing a crime fighter with a talking car and the leader of well-endowed female lifeguards who had a penchant for running in slow motion.

But his work on Knight Rider and Baywatch pales into insignificance compared to his crowning achievement — toppling communism.

All three subjects, and a firsthand account of life in the spotlight, feature in An Evening with the Hoff, which brings him to Perth for the first time next week.

It was 1989 and Germany was split into an east and west by the Berlin Wall, the most visible symbol of communism outside of the Kremlin.

Hasselhoff's Looking for Freedom was top of the charts and he was a superstar on both sides of the Wall.

The 60-year-old remembers it "like it was yesterday", he says over the phone from his LA home, after returning from the Richard Branson-owned Necker Island, where he went kite surfing with Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, as you do.

"I could get back and forth from East and West Germany through Checkpoint Charlie as much as I wanted to," Hasselhoff says.

"I was the Knight Rider and I could do whatever I wanted."

History might tell us the Germans were already two months into tearing down the wall by the time Hasselhoff played his storied New Year's Eve show at the Brandenburg Gate but the star says East Germans still thank him for the fall of communism.

And rightly so; his role in the wall coming down extends beyond the figurative to the literal.

"I've got about half the wall in my closet," Hasselhoff admits.

"Me and my mates, after a couple of bottles of schnapps, it was New Year's Eve, and we thought 'Screw it'.

"I brought back about 100 pieces of the wall and put little plaques on them. It was a little piece of freedom and I gave one to everybody on the Baywatch cast."

He has fond memories of the show, which he famously purchased, with three others, from NBC for $1 after its cancellation after one season.

It went on to be syndicated globally for 10 additional seasons and become one of the most watched shows in TV history. But if you ask the man himself, nothing beats working with a black Pontiac Trans Am with artificial intelligence named KITT.

"There was Baywatch, and now the Hoff, but I think it all comes back to Knight Rider in the end — it was such a great show," he says.

Hasselhoff says NBC's failed Knight Rider redux of 2008 was originally his idea but he was cut out of it by the network, although he hopes the franchise might be reborn once more.

"Right now it's in the hands of the Weinstein Company and I'm trying to get these guys to make it the right way or try to buy it," he says.

However, a spoof Baywatch movie might come first, with producer Ivan Reitman on board and Bill Hader tipped to revive Hasselhoff's Mitch Buchannon.

The studio interest in these properties is evidence of the significant impact Hasselhoff has had on popular culture for more than three decades and, though that legacy may be reduced somewhat with all this "Hoff stuff", it shouldn't be dismissed.

An Evening with The Hoff is at Capitol on February 17. Tickets through Oztix.

The West Australian

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