Talk show host Larry King, who spent half a century on radio and television, died on Saturday in Los Angeles at 87. Best known for hosting Larry King Live on CNN for 25 years, King had been hospitalized with COVID-19 in December, though this hasn’t been revealed as the cause of death.
Born in Brooklyn to Jewish immigrants, King began working in radio after high school. He became nationally known for his radio call-in show that debuted in 1978. His CNN talk show, which was broadcast from 1985 to 2010, became the cable network’s highest-rated, longest-running program, welcoming over 50,000 guests during its run.
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King, whose interviews were refreshingly laid back, said in his memoir, My Remarkable Journey, “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.”
King experienced numerous illnesses over his lifetime. In 1987, he suffered a major heart attack and then had quintuple-bypass surgery. In 2017, during his annual chest X-ray examination to monitor his heart condition, doctors discovered a cancerous tumor in his lung, which was removed with surgery. Two years later, King underwent an angioplasty and had stents inserted.
King also suffered a stroke in March 2019 and was in a coma for several weeks. He later admitted that he had considered suicide following the stroke, saying, “I thought I was just going to bite the bullet. I didn’t want to live this way.”
King won numerous broadcasting awards, including the Peabody Award for Excellence in broadcasting for both his radio (and television shows, as well as 10 CableACE awards for Best Interviewer and for Best Talk Show Series.
Married eight times to seven women, King had five children and nine grandchildren, as well as four great-grandchildren. Both of his children with his wife Alene, Andy and Chaia, died within weeks of each other in August 2020, Andy at 65 from a heart attack and Chaia at 51 from lung cancer.
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