Larry King, the longtime CNN host who became an icon through his interviews with countless newsmakers and his sartorial sensibilities, passed away on 23rd January 2021, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Having worked with CNN for over 25 years, interviewing presidential candidates, celebrities, athletes, movie stars and everyday people on “Larry King Live”, the 87-year-old television legend eventually retired in 2010 after taping more than 6,000 episodes of the show.
Despite battling a number of health problems throughout the years – including several heart attacks, the quintuple bypass surgery in 1987 that inspired the establishment of the Larry King Cardiac Foundation which provides assistance to those without insurance, a 2017 lung cancer diagnosis, a procedure in 2019 to address angina, and finally Covid-19 – the passing of Larry King comes as a shock to all. Announced through a statement posted to his verified Facebook account, and confirmed by his son, Chance, the full details of Larry King’s passing remains undisclosed.
Survived by three sons, Larry, Jr., Chance and Cannon, Larry King had suffered personal loss shortly before his own, when two of his adult children died within weeks of each other. Andy King, 65, suffered a heart attack and his daughter Chaia King, 52, died after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Revered for his affable, easy-going demeanour that distinguished him from more intense TV interviewers, King was a giant among the most prominent questioners on television and a host to presidents, movie stars and world class athletes. Perfecting his casual approach to the traditional interview process, the superstar host was sensitive in treating all his subjects as equals. Be it heads of state or ordinary Americans, Larry King was always seen leaning forward, listening intently to his guests, and rarely interrupting. As he would famously say, “I’ve never learned anything while I was talking.”
The quarter century that King hosted “Larry King Live” on CNN, is highlighted by more than 30,000 interviews, including every sitting president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama, and thousands of phone calls from viewers. Notoriously unprepared for every interview, Larry King was known to let his natural curiosity guide the conversations, giving each guest ample opportunity to speak and interjecting only when necessary.
Regarded one of the most famous television journalists in America, King’s career in media began in 1957, when he took a job as a disc jockey at WAHR-AM in Miami. As his success grew so did his career, and King was soon hired as a columnist for the Miami Herald in 1965. In 1978, the syndicated late-night radio program dubbed “The Larry King Show”, aired for the first time across 28 cities. Eventually winning a Peabody Award in 1982, the program had spread to over 118 cities within a span of five years.
Serving as his springboard to fame, in 1985, “Larry King Live” premiered on CNN, beginning a long and storied run that included a number of high-profile interviews. Throughout a period of over two decades on air, the show was routinely CNN’s most-watched program, and King was arguably the network’s biggest star. Working every day up till his death, Larry King never truly retired, but instead moved on to hosting “Larry King Now,” a program that has aired on Ora TV, Hulu and RT America, since 2011.