Larry King, the suspenders-sporting everyman whose broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary Joes helped define American conversation for a half-century, died Saturday. He was 87.
King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted. No cause of death was given, but reports on Jan. 2 said that King has been hospitalised for more than a week due to the coronavirus disease 2019. His son Chance also confirmed King’s death, according to a television report.
A longtime nationally syndicated radio host, from 1985 through 2010 he was a nightly fixture on CNN, where he won many honors, including two Peabody awards.
With his celebrity interviews, political debates and topical discussions, King wasn’t just an enduring on-air personality. He also set himself apart with the curiosity he brought to every interview, whether questioning the assault victim known as the Central Park jogger or billionaire industrialist Ross Perot, who in 1992 rocked the presidential contest by announcing his candidacy on King’s show.
In its early years, “Larry King Live” was based in Washington, which gave the show an air of gravitas. Likewise King. He was the plainspoken go-between through whom Beltway bigwigs could reach their public, and they did, earning the show prestige as a place where things happened, where news was made.
King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews. In 1995 he presided over a Middle East peace summit with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He welcomed everyone from the Dalai Lama to Elizabeth Taylor, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Barack Obama, Bill Gates to Lady Gaga.
Especially after he relocated to Los Angeles, his shows were frequently in the thick of breaking celebrity news, including Paris Hilton talking about her stint in jail in 2007 and Michael Jackson’s friends and family members talking about his death in 2009.
King boasted of never overpreparing for an interview. His nonconfrontational style relaxed his guests and made him readily relatable to his audience.“I don’t pretend to know it all,” he said in a 1995 interview. “Not, `What about Geneva or Cuba?′ I ask, `Mr. President, what don’t you like about this job?′ Or `What’s the biggest mistake you made?′ That’s fascinating.” SOVEREIGNPH