LOS ANGELES — Larry King, the famous radio and television talk show host who retired from CNN in fall 2010 yet continued to remain a Talk force across the next decade, has died at the age of 87.
He was at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
CNN reported King’s death early Saturday (1/23) through his son, Chance. A statement on Facebook further confirmed his passing, from Ora Media, which Larry King co-founded.
A cause of death was not disclosed. However, CNN notes he was hospitalized with COVID-19 in early January 2021.
King hosted “Larry King Live” on CNN for more than a quarter century, and during that time interviewing presidential candidates, celebrities, athletes, movie stars and everyday people.
Before that, King became famous as a radio host, including many years in Miami.
“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. “Additionally, while it was his name appearing in the shows’ titles, Larry always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of his programs, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and audience. Whether he was interviewing a U.S. president, foreign leader, celebrity, scandal-ridden personage, or an everyman, Larry like to ask short, direct, and uncomplicated questions. He believed concise questions usually provided the best answers, and he was not wrong in that belief.”
For Ora Media, King hosted “Larry King Now,” and “Politicking with Larry King.” The shows aired on Russia-backed RT America.
He was a survivor of cancer, a heart attack and a stroke. In addition to Chance, King is survived by his two other children, Larry Jr. and Cannon. In 2020 son Andy King, 65, suffered a heart attack and died. Weeks later, daughter Chaia King, 52, died after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Funeral arrangements and a memorial service will be announced later, in coordination with King’s family, who ask for their privacy at this time, Ora’s statement concluded.
A TRANSITION FROM CNN
At 76, King announced on “Larry King Live!” in late June 2010 that he would retire from the daily CNN program.
In making the announcement, he said:
Before I start the show tonight, I want to share some personal news with you. Twenty-five years ago, I sat across this table from New York Governor Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast of Larry King Live. Now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I would like to end Larry King Live, the nightly show, this fall and CNN has graciously accepted, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids’ little league games. I’ll still be a part of the CNN family, hosting several Larry King specials on major national and international subjects.
King also expressed pride in making the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest running show with the same host in the same time slot. “With this chapter closing I’m looking forward to the future and what my next chapter will bring, but for now it’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders,” he said in 2010.
Days later in an interview with CBS, he was asked who his successor would be. “If it was up to me, I’d have Ryan Seacrest do it,” King told CBS News.
It was not up to him, and the job went to Piers Morgan. CNN made the announcement in September 2010.
In November 2013, after six decades, King returned to radio — the medium where he first became a star. On Veterans’ Day 2013, he launched 60-second vignettes through Cumulus Media stations also made available on the AARP website.
“Larry King Droppin’ In” was heard on such stations as WABC-AM in New York, KABC-AM in Los Angeles and WLS-AM in Chicago.
REMEMBERED BY CNN
CNN President Jeff Zucker, in a statement, saluted King, who he describes as “a scrappy young man from Brooklyn” who had a history-making career spanning radio and television.
His birth name: Lawrence Harvey Zeiger.
“His curiosity about the world propelled his award-winning career in broadcasting, but it was his generosity of spirit that drew the world to him,” Zucker said. “We are so proud of the 25 years he spent with CNN, where his newsmaker interviews truly put the network on the international stage. From our CNN family to Larry’s, we send our thoughts and prayers, and a promise to carry on his curiosity for the world in our work.”
MAGIC CITY BEGINNINGS
King’s career in media began in earnest in 1957, when he took a job as a disc jockey at WAHR-AM in Miami, today WMBM-AM 1490 in Miami Beach. He lasted a year and then moved to WKAT-AM 1360 in Miami, a prominent talk station across the 1960s and 1970s that was also an early home of the late Neil Rogers.
In fact, Rogers’ regularly poked fun of King’s time in Miami, with a sound byte of King asking “Loan me $50” a regular part of Rogers’ show.
And, like Rogers, King would also work at News/Talk WIOD-AM 610, where he’d successfully fend off an arrest for grand larceny following accusations by ex-business partner Louis Wolfson.
On January 30, 1978, King’s radio career went nationwide, thanks to a syndication contract with Mutual Broadcasting System.
It was the overnight shift. And, he ruled it through 1994.
King’s personal life, meanwhile, had more transitions than his professional career. King was married eight times — to seven women.
Editorial research by Dana Jacobson. Archival reporting by Carl Marcucci. Additional reporting from RBR+TVBR’s West Coast Bureau in Los Angeles.