Larry King, Beloved Journalist, Dead at 87
Posted by: Erin Ward in Notable Deaths | January 25
Journalist & Media Personality
November 19, 1933 – January 23, 2021
Beloved American journalist and media personality, Larry King, has passed away at the age of 87. King was a renowned radio and television host who hosted more than 50,000 interviews during his lifetime – he loved to talk to people.
King was born Brooklyn, New York during the great depression. He had a normal childhood until the passing of his father when he was 9. After that, his mother was left to raise King and his brother by herself. King took the death of his father quite hard and showed little interest in schoolwork after that.
Upon graduating high school, King began working to help support his mother. From an early age, he dreamed of working in radio broadcasting. A chance encounter with a CBS staff announcer led King to Miami, where there was an emerging media market and opportunities for new broadcasters.
After some initial setbacks, King was hired to perform miscellaneous tasks around the station. His first time on the air happened in 1957 after one of the stations announcers abruptly quit. From then on, he was a radio personality and began doing more broadcasts.
After the station member told him his last name was too difficult to remember, Larry King was born. His birth name was Larry Zeiger. Within two years though, he legally changed his name to Larry King. Over the next few years, King continued to host different shows at the radio station.
In 1960, he moved to television where he hosted Miami Undercover on Sunday nights. The show had King moderate debates between different guests on local issues. During this time, King spent two seasons as a color commentator for Miami Dolphins games on the local station.
In 1978, “The Larry King Show” started broadcasting nationally from coast to coast. The show aired Monday-Friday from midnight to 5:30 am ET. The program featured interviews and live conversations with viewers calling in to ask questions. Despite relatively few affiliates in the early days, the number eventually grew to more than 500.
In 1985, King started hosting “Larry King Live” on CNN. King hosted his show weeknights on CNN from 1985-2010. In 1993, an interview featuring Al Gore and Ross Perot became CNN’s most watched segment ever. It held the record until 2015.
Following his departure from CNN, King cofounded Ora TV in 2012. The production company produced King’s new show “Larry King Now” as its flagship program. His company signed a multi-year deal to have the show broadcast on Hulu.
Outside of his shows, King guest starred or made appearances on several different shows and movies. He also founded the Larry King Cardiac Foundation following a heart attack in 1987.
King was married 8 times to 7 different women during his life and raised a total of 5 children. He is survived by 3 of his children, 9 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren.