After over 60 years of bringing the world the top news stories of the day, the man who many turned to for the quintessential interview, has passed away at the age of 87.
Larry King Has Passed Away
A post on his verified Twitter page confirmed the news Saturday morning. “With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles,” the statement said.
Born November 19, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, Lawrence Harvey Zeiger was born to Jewish immigrants, Jennie and Aaron Zeiger. His father died of a heart attack at the age of 44, when Larry was just 10 years old, leaving the family impoverished. Eventually, Larry took work to help support his mother.
After graduating from Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, he took a shine to radio broadcasting. A friend steered him towards Miami where radio jobs were plentiful, and Larry was hired at a local station doing odd jobs. When a DJ abruptly quit, King was quickly dropped in his spot. His first broadcast was May 1, 1957. The General Manager, Marshall Simmonds, stated Zeiger was too ethnic and hard to pronounce, and encouraged Larry to change it. Citing an ad in the Miami Herald for King’s Liquor Store, he changed his name legally to Larry King, and the rest is history.
His first celebrity interview was with singer Bobby Darin, who was in town for a concert, but King said it was really comedian Jackie Gleason, whose national variety show was taped in Miami Beach, that brought him notoriety with an all-night interview and other antics that lasted until 5 in the morning, and included King and Gleason redecorating the set. King was game for anything during this period, moderating local debates, color commenting for the Miami Dolphins, and hosting a show called Sports-a-la-King.
In the late 70s, early 80s, Larry inherited a coast-to-coast overnight show from midnight to 5 a.m. He would interview a guest early on and move into “Open Phone America” which included random callers who used pseudonyms or nicknames provided by King. The overnight show became really popular with affiliates, which grew to 500. King continued with the show while tackling Larry King Live at CNN, which began in June of 1985, eventually stepping down in 1994 when comedian David Brenner took the reins.
Larry’s success as an interviewer was due to his easy-going, laid-back style, and his non-confrontational approach to his guests. While helming the CNN staple, King continued to write a column for USA Today, penning many bestselling books, doing radio, and other gigs. He and CNN parted ways in 2012, but Larry continued his love for all things media by co-founding the network, Ora TV, signing a deal with Hulu for a web series, and still dabbling in commentary for the political world. He received some criticism for his work on “Larry King Now” for its connection to a Russian-owned TV network.
His personal life is as colorful as his grand collection of suspenders. King has been married eight times, with five children by three different wives, and has had other romantic dalliances with women like Angie Dickinson, Rama Fox, Katie Couric, and Deanna Lund. Perhaps it is that same laid-back style and non-confrontational style that is so engaging, or just his insatiable curiosity that drove him and made him popular with the ladies and his audience.
In his later years, King seems to have inherited his father’s heart issues, having his first heart attack in 1987, and it didn’t help that he was a three-packs-a-day smoker for 30 years prior. King was able to kick the habit after that wake-up call. He had to surgically address several blocked arteries in the years since.
When Larry King addressed his audience on his departure from his long-running show on CNN, he said, “I don’t know what to say except to you, my audience, thank you. And instead of goodbye, how about so long.” He is survived by five children: sons Cannon, Chance, Andy, and Larry King Jr., and daughter Chaia. Entertainment Hub sends condolences to them, as well King’s many friends and fans.
— Larry King (@kingsthings) January 23, 2021