Larry King, TV interview virtuoso, has died
by Jenny Rough
Posted 1/23/21, 09:35 am
Radio and television host Larry King, who interviewed tens of thousands of subjects, including presidents, Hollywood celebrities, athletes, and world leaders, died Saturday. He was 87.
How did he become famous? Lawrence Harvey Zeiger, born in the Brooklyn borough of New York to Jewish immigrants, became Larry King when he landed his first radio job as a disc jockey in Miami in 1957. His boss thought Zeiger sounded “too ethnic,” and noticed an ad for King’s Wholesale Liquors in an open newspaper on the desk.
Known for his personable and straightforward style, he credited his ability to talk with anyone, whether a prime minister or bus driver, to his insatiable curiosity. Larry King Live premiered on CNN in 1985 and became a mainstay of American television for 25 years. He welcomed everyone from the Dalai Lama and Mikhail Gorbachev to Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra.
King married seven women (one of them twice). His last marriage to Shawn Southwick lasted more than 20 years before he filed for divorce in 2019. He cited religious differences—she was a devout Mormon and he an “agnostic atheist”—as one reason they didn’t get along.
Obsessed with the afterlife, King often asked about faith in interviews. In his book Powerful Prayers, co-authored with Rabbi Irwin Katsof, he questioned influential people about how they talk to God. On a CNN special, King said he wanted to live forever, and was public about his wish to be cryogenically preserved.
King’s estranged wife and three of his five children survive him.
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Jenny is a WORLD Radio correspondent and co-host of the Legal Docket podcast. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law. Jenny resides with her husband, Ron, in Alexandria, Va.