Radio and Television Host Larry King passed away Jan. 23.
On Saturday, Jan. 23, broadcasting giant Larry King passed away from sepsis after recovering from COVID-19. King was born on Nov. 19, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were Orthodox Jews who immigrated to the US from Belarus in the 1930s. While proud of his ethnic heritage, King had declared himself a full atheist.
From a young age, King knew he wanted to work in broadcasting. After receiving a tip from a CBS staff announcer about the upcoming market in Florida for inexperienced broadcasters, he moved to Miami and landed his first job on the radio as a disc jockey for WMBM. His first broadcast dates back to May 1, 1957. Throughout his career, he worked at various other local broadcasting locations after he began to venture down this path.
On Jan. 30, 1978, King began broadcasting nationally, inheriting a talk show slot on the Mutual Broadcasting System titled the “Larry King Show.” In June 1985, he began hosting “Larry King Live” on CNN from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night. For a section of his career, he hosted both of these shows simultaneously. While the “Larry King Show” ended in 1994, King worked for 16 more years before retiring from “Larry King Live” in 2010.
His time at CNN earned him the Guinness Book Record Award for “longest-running television show hosted by the same person on the same network and in the same time slot,” as well as a Peabody Award. On the “Larry King Show,” it wasn’t uncommon for him to host call-in segments as a nod to his roots as a disc jockey. King also wrote for USA Today for 19 years — from 1982 to 2001. He often guest-starred in family films and television shows such as three “Shrek” films, “The Simpsons,” “Ghostbusters” and the “Bee Movie.”
After retiring from CNN, King founded his own digital television network and studio ORA Media. Through these channels, he produced 1,000 episodes of “Larry King Now” from 2012 to 2017. Through the network, ORA TV, he also produced “Politicking with Larry King,” which ran from 2013 to 2020 containing 257 episodes and both shows can also be found on Hulu.
While hosting national talk shows, King introduced a wide range of guests. He was well known for interviewing elusive figures and stars. Some of the guests on his shows included: Clinton, Nixon, Putin, Sinatra and Mandela.
Associated Press states they estimate that he conducted over 50,000 interviews over the span of his career. He was known for his unique, breezy interview style and his abundant curiosity where he often gave interviewees softball questions, allowing them to avoid contentious topics. This approach relaxed guests and made him relatable to his viewers and listeners.
King often bragged about not preparing for an interview. In one of his memoirs, “My Remarkable Journey,” he stated, “There are many broadcasters who’ll recite three minutes of facts before they ask a question. As if to say: Let me show you how much I know. I think the guest should be the expert.”
Despite his successful career, his wife of 22 years Shawn King said his proudest legacy was his family. King was married eight times, had five children and nine grandchildren. He is survived by his and Shawn’s two sons, Chance and Cannon. As well as his son Larry King Junior, from a previous marriage to Anette Kaye. Last August, he had lost two children, Chaia and Andy, within two weeks of each other.
Larry King was a well-known talk show host. A suspender-sporting everyman with a golden baritone voice. He will surely be missed.