With an open-minded questioning style and an easy rapport with guests, Larry King interviewed thousands of famous faces across politics, sports, entertainment and nearly any other category you could think of. He started on radio and quickly built a huge following. He transitioned into television and found an even bigger audience. He later tried his hand at podcasting, educational programming, a newspaper column and even hosted in person forums. He was the ultimate facilitator of communication. Sadly, after more than sixty years working in front of audiences, King passed away at the age of 87.
Larry King first started building his career as a radio broadcaster in Miami. He got his big break after one of the disc jockeys abruptly quit, and the station needed a quick fill-in. He soon started doing interview segments with locals and later started booking celebrity guests. That led to a meeting with TV legend Jackie Gleason and eventually, his own local television show and later, a job calling Miami Dolphins games. By the late 1970s, he had his own nationwide tak show, which once again, prioritized interviews with guests. He booked his most famous gig, Larry King Live, with CNN in 1985 and turned into a broadcast star.
Larry King was very rarely a confrontational interviewer. Instead, he prided himself on direct, to the point questions and mostly allowed his guests to speak for themselves. The result was a very open-minded broadcast that exposed his audience to a wide variety of different perspectives. He had on popular leaders of various faiths. He had on psychics. He had on world leaders, athletes, musicians, government officials, politicians and actors. Each was given an opportunity to speak to their own issues and what they believed in.
Larry King Live ultimately ran from 1985 to 2010. He hosted a few specials for CNN after his departure but mostly stepped back for a year or two until he signed a deal with production company Ora TV. He quickly launched Larry King Now, another talk show and even picked up a podcast several years later, even as he struggled with the occasional surgery or health problem. To the very end, he was still recording new content and doing what he always did best: ask questions, listen and thoughtfully respond.
During Larry King's incredible career, he reportedly conducted more than 30,000 interviews. Looking at the incredible list of people he talked to, it's hard to find huge names he missed. He interviewed US Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W Bush, Bill Clinton, George HW Bush, Ronald Regan, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. He also talked to leaders of other countries including longtime Russian Head Of State Vladimir Putin.
Outside of his career in front of the camera, Larry King was also known for his love of the Dodgers. He attended Jackie Robinson's first game when he broke the color barrier and was a familiar sight at Los Angeles Dodgers games. In his personal life, he was married 8 times, including twice to the same woman. He also had 5 children.
Part of what made Larry King so special was how uninterested he always seemed in spotlighting himself. He let whoever he had on, whether it was Michael Jordan or someone completely random, be the star for the day. He treated everyone the same and asked direct and honest questions. He never tried to make himself seem intelligent and was willing to ask really basic things like, "Why?" During a particularly thoughtful interview once, he called himself "dumb" and said it's the secret to his success. He's not dumb, but what he meant, of course, is he was never worried about looking dumb. He didn't need the audience to think he knew as much about the topic as his guest, and that allowed him to ask the really basic and simple questions viewers were thinking at home.
Larry King was one of a kind. No one will ever be able to replace the unique, inquisitive energy he brought to the interview game, and I'm not sure anyone will ever be able to match the incredible 60+ year career he had. He will be missed. Our thoughts go out to his family and all those who watched him for so many years.