WASHINGTON – Larry King, who quizzed thousands of world leaders, politicians and entertainers for CNN and other news outlets in a career spanning more than six decades, has died aged 87, his media company said in a statement on Saturday.
King had been hospitalized in Los Angeles with a COVID-19 infection, according to several media reports. He died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Ora Media, a television production company founded by King, said in a post on Twitter.
“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,” it said.
King was an established radio talk-show host when he made his first television broadcast for CNN from Washington on June 3, 1985, five years after Ted Turner started the network.
“Larry King Live” would become one of CNN’s highest rated shows. He left CNN amid falling ratings in 2010 after 25 years with the news network, but stayed busy with his Ora TV show.
“I’ve known a lot of people who were experts in six or 12 things but Larry seems to be an expert in everything,” Don Hewitt, creator of “60 Minutes,” told the Hollywood Reporter.
“He’s also never confrontational, which is majorly important. In an age when so many people are miserable, he seems to be one of the happy ones.”
King was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger on Nov. 19, 1933, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. He said at age 5 he knew he wanted to be on the radio and in 1957 he moved to Miami, which he had been told had a burgeoning radio market.
King started doing odd jobs at a Miami station and one day was asked to fill in for an announcer who walked off the job. Before he went on the air, the station manager urged him to change his last name to King because it was easier to pronounce and less ethnic than Zeiger.
King was married eight times to seven women, most recently to singer Shawn Southwick, who was 26 years younger. He had five children, two of whom died in 2020.