Emge (IPA: /'εmgi/) was born in Evansville, Indiana, United States. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Drama, while a student at the University of Evansville. One of David's classmates and acting partners while in college was Ron Glass, who later became famous as a starring member of the television sitcom Barney Miller. While working as a chef in a New York City restaurant, David met George A. Romero, who cast him in the role for which he would be most remembered, as Stephen in Romero's zombie epic, Dawn of the Dead. As of 2007, David participates in occasional acting and film conventions.