Sat | Feb 27, 2021

Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2021 | 9:22 AM
Larry King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87.
Larry King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87.


Larry King, the suspenders-sporting everyman whose broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary Joes helped define American conversation for a half-century, died Saturday. He was 87.

King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted. No cause of death was given, but CNN reported January 2 that King had been hospitalised for more than a week with COVID-19. His son Chance also confirmed King’s death, CNN reported.

A long-time nationally syndicated radio host, from 1985 through 2010 he was a nightly fixture on CNN, where he won many honours, including two Peabody awards.

With his celebrity interviews, political debates and topical discussions, King wasn’t just an enduring on-air personality. He also set himself apart with the curiosity be brought to every interview, whether questioning the assault victim known as the Central Park jogger or billionaire industrialist Ross Perot, who in 1992 rocked the presidential contest by announcing his candidacy on King’s show.

In its early years, Larry King Live was based in Washington, which gave the show an air of gravitas. Likewise King. He was the plain-spoken go-between through whom Beltway bigwigs could reach their public, and they did, earning the show prestige as a place where things happened, where news was made.

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews. In 1995 he presided over a Middle East peace summit with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He welcomed everyone from the Dalai Lama to Elizabeth Taylor, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Barack Obama, Bill Gates to Lady Gaga.

Especially after he relocated to Los Angeles, his shows were frequently in the thick of breaking celebrity news, including Paris Hilton talking about her stint in jail in 2007 and Michael Jackson’s friends and family members talking about his death in 2009.

In June 2010, after a gala week marking his 25th anniversary, King abruptly announced he was retiring from his show, telling viewers, “It’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders.” British journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan was named as his successor in the time slot.

King was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in 1933, a son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Married eight times to seven women, and had five children: Chaia King, Larry King Jr, Cannon Edward King, Chance Armstrong King and Andy King. In 2020, he lost his two eldest children, Andy and Chaia, who died of unrelated health problems within weeks of each other.

Funeral arrangements and a memorial service will be announced later in coordination with the King family, “who ask for their privacy at this time," according to the tweet from Ora Media.

entertainment@ gleanerjm . com