Larry King, TV talk-show icon who quizzed the famous and infamous, dies at 87

King hosted 'Larry King Live' for 25 years

Larry King, the suspendered talk show host whose interviews with thousands of newsmakers and entertainers made him a broadcasting legend, has died. He was 87.

King died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, said in a statement. 

No cause of death was given, but he had been hospitalized with a COVID-19 infection, according to several media reports.

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"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," the statement said.

King, who hosted CNN's award-winning "Larry King Live" for 25 years, interviewed everyone from world leaders and celebrities to criminals and conspiracy theorists during 6,000-plus episodes of the evening show from 1985 tthrough 2010.

"Instead of goodbye, how about so long," King told viewers when he signed off from his final CNN show.  

King went on to work on a variety of projects, including co-founding Ora TV in 2012.  

King’s historic career began on local radio in Miami back in 1957 as a talk show host and disc jockey. His passion for free-flowing interviews began in 1958 when he hosted an on-location interview program from Miami's Pumpernik Restaurant, where he literally spoke to whoever entered the door.

He eventually added to his skill set by providing color commentary for Miami Dolphins broadcasts and first landed on television in 1964. Around the same time, King started writing columns for newspapers,  including the Miami Herald, Miami News and Miami Beach Sun-Reporter. 

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Legal and financial issues nearly derailed his career in the 1970s but he recovered to launch the "Larry King Show" on the Mutual Broadcasting Network in 1978, which paved the way for his highly successful CNN program.  

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews. Political figures and people mired in high-profile controveries would seek out his show, but he also had success landing famously elusive guests, such as Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.

Born Lawrence Zeiger on Nov. 19, 1933 in Brooklyn, he started going by Larry King early in his career. 

He battled lung cancer, lived with Type 2 diabetes, survived multiple heart attacks and underwent quintuple bypass surgery in 1987. The broadcasting legend promised to help others and established in 1988 The Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which help people who can't get the treatment they urgently need due to financial or insurance issues.  

The nonprofit was funded from the proceeds of King’s books, speaking engagements and entertainment galas in New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, according to the foundation's website.  King wrote "Taking on Heart Disease" to help educate victims of the disease. 

He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1989 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Among his many honors and accolades are a pair of Peabody Awards for excellence in broadcasting and 10 Cable ACE awards.

King was regularly seen at Dodger Stadium cheering on his favorite baseball team. He was married eight times, to seven different women, but had been single since filing for divorce from actress Shawn King in 2019.  

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King lost two of his five adult children when Andy, 65, and Chaia, 51, died within weeks of each other in 2020. Andy had a heart attack, while Chaina had been battling lung cancer.  

King had cameos in a variety of movies and TV shows, including "Ghostbusters," "Enemy of the State," "30 Rock," "Boston Legal," The Stepford Wives," "Primary Colors," Fraiser," "Spin City," Murphy Brown," "Dave," The Simpsons" and "The Larry Sanders Show." 

King is survived by three living children: Larry Jr., Chance and Cannon.