The broadcasting icon and legendary interviewer passed away this morning at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was hospitalized earlier this month with coronavirus. Ora Media, the company King co-founded that runs his Larry King Now talk show, announced the news via King's Twitter. His death comes 10 years and one month after he signed off from his 25-year run as host of the Emmy- and Peabody-winningLarry King Live on CNN. "A son of European immigrants who grew up in Brooklyn and never went to college, Mr. King began as a local radio interviewer and sportscaster in Florida in the 1950s and ’60s, rose to prominence with an all-night coast-to-coast radio call-in show starting in 1978, and from 1985 to 2010 anchored CNN’s highest-rated, longest-running program, reaching millions across America and around the world," Robert D. McFadden writes in King's New York Times obituary. "With the folksy personality of a Bensonhurst schmoozer, Mr. King interviewed an estimated 50,000 people of every imaginable persuasion and claim to fame — every president since Richard M. Nixon, world leaders, royalty, religious and business figures, crime and disaster victims, pundits, swindlers, 'experts' on U.F.O.s and paranormal phenomena, and untold hosts of idiosyncratic and insomniac telephone callers. Mr. King might have made a fascinating guest on his own show: the delivery boy who became one of America’s most famous TV and radio personalities, a newspaper columnist, the author of numerous books and a performer in dozens of movies and television shows, mostly as himself. His personal life was the stuff of supermarket tabloids — married eight times to seven women; a chronic gambler who declared bankruptcy twice; arrested on a fraud charge that derailed his career for years; and a bundle of contradictions who never quite got over his own success but gushed, star-struck, over other celebrities, exclaiming, 'Great!' 'Terrific!' 'Gee whiz!'" King is survived by his seventh wife, Shawn, whom filed for divorce from in 2019 after they filed for divorce from each other and reconciled in 2010. He is also survived by three children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son and a daughter who died within a week of each other last year.
CNN pays tribute to Larry King: "No one captured pop-culture like Larry King on his iconic show," said Wolf Blitzer in a video tribute. Larry King Live was "interesting in part because King landed so many exclusives," said Blitzer. "And got hard-to-get stars to open up. Larry King made news, broke news and broke ground." CNN president Jeff Zucker released a statement saying "we are so proud of the 25 years he spent with CNN, where his newsmaker interviewers truly put the network on the international stage."
King became an icon of interviews by asking "dumb" questions: What made King's interviews special, says Robert Lloyd, "is what he did, in conventional terms, 'wrong.' He went into interviews with little preparation — sometimes, when he’s reading facts about a guest off a note card, it’s clear he’s seeing it for the first time — but with confidence that something good would come out of it. (If he had a kindred spirit among television interviewers, it was Craig Ferguson, on whose The Late Late Show King appeared 20 times, including Ferguson’s final episode; he was as good a guest as he was a host.)." King, who liked to say "I ask dumb," said of his interview style: “I shun too much preparation. I don’t want to know the answer to a question I’m going to ask. I like to be surprised.”