Larry King is very, very happy.
The broadcaster revealed to Page Six in a new interview that he nearly died in March after suffering a previously unreported stroke. Meanwhile, his tumultuous August divorce has been widely covered in the press.
But, as he prepares to celebrate his 86th birthday, King tells us, “Everything that’s happened to me, I’m grateful for. Maybe that sounds cliché, but I’m really, really grateful.” He added, “I’m happy.”
“I had what they call a slight stroke in March. Everything is back to normal, except my left foot. I can’t walk on my left foot, so I’m walking with a walker. It’s making me feel old,” he told us on Thursday, “But at least it helps me get around. Another thing I can’t stand is having people do things for me. I was always someone who did things for themselves.”
“They thought I was going to die in March. They told my two boys to come home. It was really touch-and-go,” he said, “I don’t remember any of it, because I was out during the whole time. I had a sepsis infection, I had a new stent put on the heart. It’s been amazing – everyone tells me they can’t believe I made it through.”
Now he says he’s feeling strong, and he’s working with a physical therapist. “I just want to walk,” he said, “They say that’s coming, the more I exercise. I might have a slight limp. But I’ll take it.”
King, who hosted CNN’s “Larry King Live” from 1985 until 2010, told us that he’s even back to work, working three or four days a week on his Emmy-nominated news show, “Larry King Now” and “Politicking with Larry King.” “Being in wheelchair doesn’t affect you, hosting a show,” he said, “I’m proud to be able to do that.”
On Monday evening his beloved Friars Club is throwing a birthday party for King, “to honor his life achievements.” According to Friars Club boss Michael Gyure, the 55th Street club is even “transforming the beautiful Crescent Hotel into the Friars Club for the evening.” “We’re bringing the castle to the king,” said Gyure.
“It’s a wonderful party,” King said, “We’ve got some great people. I’m looking forward to it.” Guests are expected to include Billy Crystal, Joan Collins, Frankie Valli, crooner Steve Tyrell, comic David Steinberg, Kirsten Chenoweth and Bill Maher. The Crescent is in LA, where King lives.
“I love the business. I love the business they’re in. I love the work they do. I’m honored that they’re coming,“ King told us.
Asked if there’s anything he hopes to achieve now that he’s back on his foot, Brooklyn-born King told us, “I don’t know what I could achieve. My achievements have exceeded my dreams. I never thought I’d have all these things happen to me.” He added, “I have a career – 62 years. Oh, come on! That’s impossible to me.”
“I never thought I’d be 86,” King told us, “My father died when he was 43, 44. I thought I would die too.”
He told us, somewhat proudly, that he’s had “every known major disease,” and reeling off various cancers and heart issues. (When we mentioned that “achievement” to pal and Friars Club roastmaster Jeff Ross, Ross said, “He still has time to get herpes.”)
Still, he says, “I have no complaints. Everything that’s happened to me, I’m grateful for. Maybe that sounds cliché, but I’m really, really grateful.”
In August, King – who has been married eight times to seven women, having gotten hitched to Alene Akins twice – split from, Shawn King, after 23 years of marriage.
“Even though the marriage is not working out, I still love my wife,” King told us, “We’re friends, which is a better way to be. What’s the sense of arguing and screaming at 86 years old? I have no complaints.”
When we asked him if marriage number nine might be on the cards, he said, “Another marriage. Are you out of your mind? No, no, no. This one was 23 years. I’ve had enough!
He added, “I’ve got great kids, great family. Kids in Florida, kids here. I got a son [Chance] going to University of Southern California – he’s a pitcher. Got another one [Cannon] whose a third baseman for West LA. I go to watch their games. I’ve got it pretty good.”
“I must be boring you with all this happiness,” he said.