Talk show host Larry King, 87, known for his suspenders and his entertaining interview shows died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Ora Media, the production company Larry King founded, announced his death on Twitter, praising the television legend for viewing his subjects as “the true stars of his programs and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guests and audience.” King’s death occurs weeks after he was hospitalized with COVID-19.
King, born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in Brooklyn, New York, began his career in radio with his showbiz name at WAHR-AM in Miami. By 1958, he began doing an interview show in front of a live audience, the kind of work for which he would become a household name. He landed another gig, replacing famous columnist Walter Winchell at the Miami Herald newspaper, in 1965.
Larry had been hospitalised at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for more than a week where he was receiving treatment according to CNN.
Larry King’s radio and television broadcasting career had lasted for more than 60 years, gaining a huge fan base that loved his entertaining interview shows that ran from 1985 to 2010.
Larry King was watched by millions of people worldwide and had become a household name in the entertainment industry. He conducted an estimated 50,000 interviews in his six-decade career, which included 25 years as host of the popular CNN talk show Larry King Live.
The Larry King Show, a nationally syndicated late-night radio talk show, debuted on Jan. 30, 1978. Larry King Live debuted on CNN in 1985 and by the end of the decade, King had been inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, one of the many honours he racked up during his tenure behind the mic.
“For 63 years and across the 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,” Ora Media said in a statement posted on Twitter.
King began his career as a DJ and sportscaster in Miami — and it’s where he got his name, as well. When a station manager told him his given surname, Zeiger, was “too ethnic,” he chose King from a liquor ad in a newspaper.
He also wrote a column for the USA Today newspaper for over 20 years and hosted another programme called: Larry King Now, which was broadcast on Hulu and RT, Russia’s state-controlled international broadcaster.
Veteran TV host Larry King dies aged 87
Known for his trademark suspenders and deep baritone voice, Larry King had battled with other health problems over the years, including prostate cancer and type-two diabetes. In 1987, he suffered a heart attack that required quintuple-bypass surgery, and in 2017 he underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumour in his lung.
Despite all this, Larry still pushed on and was able to keep entertaining his viewers for more years until reports about him contracting COVID-19 surfaced. It was during this trying moment that he was hospitalised at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“Picking up somebody like Larry King made a lot of sense,” Carter said. “Because he had established himself kind of as a guy who would get big guests, they could have big names and promote it and it became a sort of the linchpin of their prime time lineup.”
However, after 25 years running the popular CNN show, some critics began to complain about King being too ‘too chummy’ with celebrities and lobbing softball questions at his guests according to NPR.
“His strategy was: ‘I’m never going to make the guests uncomfortable,’ ” Carter said. “And that means not only will they come back, but they’ll tell their friends. He won’t ask you about that ugly divorce of yours. You know, he’ll ask you about your favourite movie. So, he didn’t challenge people, but he did get information. He was pretty good at that.”
King was famously known for not doing a lot of preparation before his interviews.
“He basically started the cable monomania move,” Carter said. “We’re going to just cover this story — that’s it. And in a way, it was perfect for Larry, because it was celebrity-oriented. It was in the news, but it was not political.”
Ultimately, CNN cancelled King’s show because it wasn’t political — competition from Fox and MSNBC took its toll on the ratings. None the less, Larry was a fighter and he pushed ahead taking his career further after he took his talk show to streaming video — on Ora TV, Hulu, and RT America, the Russian network — and kept on working.
Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana is a freelance writer for Newslibre & Spur Magazine. He is passionate about tech, games and occasionally writes about entertainment, lifestyle and so much more.