Talk show legend Larry King, host of Larry King Live on CNN, has passed away at the age of 87 according to an announcement from Ora Media, the company he co-founded.
Larry was hospitalized last month after being diagnosed with the COVID-19. As he showed signs of recovery, Larry was moved out of the ICU in early January. The company did not specify whether he died due to the coronavirus or some other reason. He was hospitalized at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In recent years, Larry has suffered through numerous health complications, including a near-fatal stroke in 2019.
“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… Whether he was interviewing a US president, foreign leader, celebrity, scandal-ridden personage, or an everyman, Larry liked to ask short, direct, and uncomplicated questions. He believed concise questions usually provided the best answers, and he was not wrong in that belief,” the company said in a statement.
Details regarding funeral arrangements and memorial service will soon be announced. King is survived by his wife and three sons. He married seven times. Two of his adult children passed away last year.
Larry King was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger to Jewish immigrant parents. He started off his career as a disc jockey in 1957. When the general manager asked him to adopt a simpler name, he chose Larry King, a name inspired by a liquor ad. Two years later, he legally adopted that name.
In 1960, Larry made his first TV appearance on WPST-TV Channel 10 debating local issues. In 1978, he went national with the Larry King Show. Seven years later in 1985, King signed a contract with CNN for his show Larry King Live, which made him a popular figure in America and around the entire world.
The show entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest-running TV show hosted by the same person, on the same network, and on the same time slot. Broadcast between 9 and 10 p.m., it attracted almost a million viewers every night. He later set up his own production company, Ora TV, in partnership with Mexican businessman Carlos Slim.
Larry interviewed more than 60,000 people during his career
CNN interviews alone numbered over 30,000. In 1993, he hosted the debate between businessman Ross Perot and politician Al Gore on the North American Free Trade Agreement. The show attracted 11 million people and was the most viewed program on an ad-supported cable network until 2006.
King interviewed every American president from Ford to Obama. According to Wendy Walker, Larry’s longtime CNN executive producer, he used to treat every interviewee the same, whether the person was the head of state or an ordinary citizen.
CNN founder Ted Turner said that King was a legend in his profession.
“Waking up to the news of the passing of Larry King felt like a punch to the gut. Larry was one of my closest and dearest friends and, in my opinion, the world’s greatest broadcast journalist of all time. If anyone asked me what are my greatest career achievements in life, one is the creation of CNN, and the other is hiring Larry King. Like so many who worked with and knew Larry, he was a consummate professional, an amazing mentor to many, and a good friend to all. The world has lost a true legend,” he said in a statement.