LARRY King, who became a household name with his long-running talk show Larry King Live, has died just months after two of his adult children separately lost their lives.
Larry King has died, aged 87Credit: Handout
King’s stellar career spanned half a century and earned him icon status as the familiar, bespectacled host of CNN’s award-winning talk show “Larry King Live,” which launched in 1985.
“Larry King defined the art of the television interview,” CNN said in a statement when he signed off for the last time in 2010. “His candor, curiosity and compassion are legendary, and his ability to interview people from all walks of life — world leaders, celebrities and everyday people — has made him an icon.”
Known for his non-confrontational interviewing style, his string of marriages, and his signature colorful suspenders, King was a nighttime cultural institution for more than two decades.
The talk show legend’s career spanned half a century
During that time he conducted an estimated 60,000 on-air interviews with world leaders, celebrities, and everyday people.
That list included everyone from the Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, the late John F. Kennedy Jr., Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Bill and Hillary Clinton, to Prince, Lady Gaga, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and LeBron James.
“The funniest person I’ve ever met is Mel Brooks,” King once wrote on his website. “I wonder if he feels the same way about me?”
King had battled numerous health issues in recent years
Larry King interviewed about 60,000 people on-air.Credit: AFP
In a resurfaced clip from a 1987 interview, Trump told King he had no desire to run for president and criticized the foreign policy of then-President Ronald Reagan.
In 2017, King shook his head at President Trump, whom he considered an old friend, telling the Daily News: “This Trump is not the Trump I know.”
Though often chided by critics for his lack of preparation — in 2007, King famously asked guest Jerry Seinfeld if his show had been canceled, a decade after Seinfeld had gone off the air — the star claimed his show succeeded because he learned about his guests as the viewers did.
“I don’t pretend to know it all,” he said in a 1995 Associated Press interview. “Not, `What about Geneva or Cuba?′ I ask, `Mr. President, what don’t you like about this job?′ Or `What’s the biggest mistake you made?′ That’s fascinating.”
In 2017, King told the Columbia Journalism Review that he “hate(d) interviewers who come with a long list of prepared questions”.
“If you don’t listen, you’re not a good interviewer,” he said.
“I concentrate solely on the answer, and I trust my instincts to come up with questions,” he added.
King began his career in the late 1950s as a newspaper journalist and Miami DJ before expanding his radio repertoire to celebrity interviews and sporting event commentary. In 1978, he rose to prominence with a nationwide radio program, Larry King Show broadcast, which he continued to host alongside his TV show, until 1994.
The sad news was announced on Twitter
His death comes after the tragic deaths of two of his children, which took place within just weeks of each other last year.
“It is with sadness and a father’s broken heart that I confirm the recent loss of two of my children, Andy King, and Chaia King,” the Larry King Now host shared in August.
“Both of them were good and kind souls and they will be greatly missed.
Larry with his sons Cannon, 20, and Chance, 21
Larry had been hospitalized at the beginning of January after testing positive for coronavirus
In 2012, King launched the sit-down talk show Larry King Now on Ora TV.
It ran for eight seasons until February 2020.
Throughout his time working in media, King received a number of awards for his journalistic accomplishments, including two Peabody Awards and inductions into the National Radio Hall of Fame and Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Additionally, King was the author of several books.
Chaia and Andy (far left) passed away within weeks of each other
It’s not known how long Chaia had been battling with cancer
The sad news of Larry’s death was announced by his company, Ora Media, on Larry’s official Twitter page on Saturday morning.
“For 63 years and across platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster,” it read. “Additionally, while it was his name appearing in the shows’ titles, Larry always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of the his programs, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and the audience.
“Whether he was interviewing a U.S. president, foreign leader, celebrity, scandal-ridden personage, or an everyman, Larry liked to ask short, direct, and uncomplicated questions. He believed concise questions usually provided the best answers, and he was not wrong in that belief.”
King had been hospitalized at the beginning of January after testing positive for coronavirus.
He had also suffered with Type 2 diabetes, lung cancer, angina and heart attacks in recent years.
In August 2019, Larry filed for divorce from Shawn
The New York native, who lived in southern California, married eight times, two of those times to the same woman: Freda Miller (1952-53), Annette Kaye (1961), Alene Akins (1961-63), Mickey Sutphin (1964-67), Alene Akins (again from 1968-71), Sharon Lepore (1976-83), Julie Alexander (1989-92) and Shawn Southwick King (1997-present).
In August 2019, King filed for divorce from his wife of 23 years, Shawn, just five months after he suffered a stroke. They were said to have remained on good terms.
King is survived by his estranged wife and three of his five children: Chance, 21, Cannon, 20, with Shawn King, and an older son Larry King Jr, 59, from his marriage to Annette Kaye.
“I have less of a fear of dying now,” he told PEOPLE in early 2020. “I’m 86 and it is what it is. I just want to keep working until the end. I’d like to die at work — I’ll retire right there!”
“I’m very proud of what I do,” he added. “And I’m a good father — nothing beats parenthood. There’s an element of pinching myself every day. Look at what I’ve come through. All in all if you look at it, I’ve had a blessed life.”