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January 27, 2021

Larry King the great American television and radio host whose broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary Joes helped define American conversation for 66 years, died Saturday. He was 87.

 King whose awards included two Peabodys, an Emmy and ten Cable ACE Awards, hosted over 50,000 interviews during his career including 25 years as host of the popular CNN talk show Larry King Live. He died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to Ora Media, a production company he co-founded. While no official report regarding the cause of death has been given, it is known that he was admitted for Covid-19 treatment during the last week in December.

King, known for his tireless work ethic, retired from CNN in 2010 after 25 years of hosting the interview show "Larry King Live," only to return to broadcasting in 2012 with "Larry King Now" on the free streaming service Ora TV.

In 2019, he told television's "Extra" that he had suffered a stroke that put him in a coma for "a couple weeks." Ora TV also reported that King had suffered a heart attack." The next year, his son Andy King, 65, died of a heart attack, and his daughter Chaia King, 51, died after battling with lung cancer. Married eight times, King has three other children.

King carried out interviews with every sitting US president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama and a number of world leaders. His other high-profile guests included Dr Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Lady Gaga. "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," Ora Media said in a statement, without giving the cause of death.

Larry King was known for his spontaneity and curious nature. He claimed not to do much research before interviews, so to learn alongside the viewers. Some of his critics complained about his non-confrontational approach and open-ended questions.  "I like spontaneity. That's the kind of broadcaster I am," he declared.

Born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933, King rose to fame in the 1970s with his radio programme The Larry King Show, on the commercial network Mutual Broadcasting System. In 1985 he launched Larry King Live on the fledgeling CNN and became one of the network's biggest stars.

The programme, broadcast around the world, was a success with audiences, with King answering thousands of phone calls from viewers. By 2010 his ratings had dropped significantly, with critics saying King's approach felt outdated in an era of more aggressive interviewing styles. King then announced his retirement, saying: "It's time to hang up my nightly suspenders". In his final programme on CNN, he told his viewers: "I don't know what to say, except to you, my audience, thank you. Instead of goodbye, how about so long?"


Source: ABC News
Image Source: Getty Images