2021 has just begun, but yet another celebrity has passed on.
Larry King, legendary talk show host and journalist, has died at the age of 87.
According to a statement by Ora Media – the studio and network he co-founded – King died at Cedars-Sinai, a medical centre in Los Angeles.
He was hospitalised there earlier this month after contracting Covid-19.
“With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host, and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles,” the tweet said.
“Ora Media sends our condolences to his surviving children Larry Jr, Chance, Cannon and the entire King family.”
Most of us are familiar with the television host, who’s interviewed celebrities, presidents, film stars, and everyday people, but how much do we really know about him?
Here are 10 facts about Larry King, the man who became an icon through his interviews and sartorial choices.
Larry King Isn’t His Birth Name
You may be surprised to learn that Larry King wasn’t actually given that name at birth.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 19, 1933, he was given the name Larry Zeiger; his parents were Orthodox Jews who emigrated to the United States from Belarus in the 1930s.
However, when he got his first job in media as a disc jockey in 1957, King made the decision to change his surname.
His hand was forced, though.
Just before King was about to go on air for the first time, the station’s general manager told him he couldn’t use his birth surname because he thought it sounded too ethnic and was hard to remember.
“There was no time to think about whether this was good or bad or what my mother would say. I was going on the air in five minutes,” King wrote in his autobiography.
He chose the last name “King” after seeing an advertisement for King’s Wholesale Liquor, and just like that, Larry King was born.
Not long after, he legally changed his name to Larry King.
He Was Once Arrested For Grand Larceny
Less than a decade later, King was hired as a journalist for a Miami newspaper.
Then, in 1971, he fell afoul of the law.
According to Factinate, King had received $5,000 from a financier to give to someone else but instead used it to pay his own back taxes.
As a result, he was arrested for grand larceny.
The charges were dismissed the following year, but his arrest cost him his job at the radio station and news outlet.
But that didn’t deter him, of course.
He Was the Host of CNN’s Most Watched and Longest-running Program
He then shot to fame as the host of “The Larry King Show”, a late-night radio show which eventually aired in 118 cities.
Then in 1985, King got his big break.
“Larry King Live” premiered on CNN, a chat show where King interviewed high-profile personalities in a laid-back manner, while wearing his trademark suspenders and black rim glasses.
The show ran for over two decades, and was often CNN’s most-watched programme.
He Was Known For His Casual Approach to Interviews
At the time, King’s interview style was a little controversial, as he adopted a casual, laidback approach to interviews, unlike other confrontational interviewers.
King usually asked easy, open-ended questions, which not only put guests at ease, but encouraged important figures to state their position without fear of being challenged.
He Didn’t Do Any Research About Guests, Which Sometimes Landed Him in Trouble
King interview style was unique because he intentionally did little research about his guests, which sometimes meant he knew next to nothing about the person and subject matter.
He did this because he wanted to learn things along with the audience, but this sometimes landed him in trouble with his guests.
For instance, when he interviewed legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld, King asked whether the comedian had chosen to end his popular TV show or if it had been cancelled by the network.
“You’re not aware of this?” Seinfeld asked before roasting King for a good minute.
His lack of preparation also led to a rather awkward interview with popular American Idol contestant Sanjaya Malakar, as he had to concede that he had no idea who his guest was.
He’s Interviewed Every US President From Ford to Obama
King was a chat show host for an incredibly long time.
Over the 25 years that Larry King Live was on the air, King conducted more than 30,000 interviews.
He’s interviewed every sitting US president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama, which is no mean feat.
He Had Been Married 8 Times, Two to the Same Women
As a famous television personality, King’s love life was also thrust into the spotlight, and he became known for his repeat trips down the aisle.
The 87-year-old had been married a total of 8 times, two of which were to the same women.
The Cause of His Death is Unknown, But He Was Hospitalised With Covid-19
On January 2, 2021, it was revealed that King had been hospitalized 10 days earlier in a Los Angeles hospital after testing positive for Covid-19.
A few weeks later, King passed away at the age of 87.
His cause of death has not yet been revealed.
He Had a Long History of Medical Issues
The 87-year-old had a long history of medical issues, which may have contributed to his death.
He suffered several heart attacks, had Type 2 diabetes, and more recently, was diagnosed with lung cancer, but successfully underwent surgery to treat it.
He also suffered from angina, a condition caused by reduced blood flow to the heart, and underwent a procedure in 2019 to treat it.
It’s well known that those with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness after contracting the coronavirus.
But whether Covid-19 was what claimed his life in the end, remains unknown.
He Kept Working Until His Death, Doing What He Loved Best
Even after leaving CNN in 2011 at the age of 78, when everyone expected him to retire, King continued to do what he loved best.
After leaving CNN, King hosted “Larry King Now,” a chat show that aired on Ora TV, Hulu, and RT America.
Even though he had conducted tens of thousands of interviews, King wanted the show to go on.
“I just love what I do,” he said, “I love asking questions, I love doing the interviews”, he said.
Featured Image: Sam Aronov / Shutterstock.com