The Legacy of Larry King


Liron Brunner

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” – Larry King

One of the world’s most iconic late-night hosts passed away on January 23, 2021. He hosted the famous show “Larry King Live” for 25 years on CNN. He started hosting right at the beginning of CNN, when it was only 5 years old. King’s first guest was, fittingly, Mario Cuomo, who was the father of Andrew Cuomo, now the governor of New York, and Chris Cuomo, who is an anchor on CNN with his own special called “Cuomo Prime Time”.

“Larry King Live” premiered in the 1980’s and kicked off CNN. The show ended in 2010, having been the longest-running late-night show to date.

King’s first show was in 1957, in Miami, at the AM radio station. His last name was originally Zeiger, but his manager said that it would be too hard to remember so he switched it to King two years later. After that he worked on an interview show on WIOD (World Input-Output Database) that showed in a local restaurant in Miami. His next big break was “Sports-a-la-King” with guest callers.

The “Larry King Show” was a broadcast that aired originally in 28 cities and then expanded to 300 cities. The show aired for 16 years leading to his slot on CNN. When “Larry King Live” premiered on June 3rd, 1985, it became the most-watched and highest-rated program on CNN.

The show was known to be casual and easy-going, which made it appealing to a broad audience. He interviewed presidential candidates, celebrities, athletes, everyday people, and even conspiracy theorists.

On top of having an all-star guest list, King was known for being a keen listener and asking non-confrontational questions.

“He was a very interesting man but that one hour a day, when those lights came on, he was just perfect. He treated every guest the same. It didn’t matter if it was a president or somebody just off the street” (Wendy Walker).

A special thing about King was that he never prepared for his interviews, he wanted to leave the conversation up to the guest.

When the show ended King finished he had filmed over 6000 episodes and over 60,000 interviews. After the end of “Larry King Live” he debuted a separate show called “Larry King Now,” as he was devoted to work until he died because of his love for the job.

He had an extremely impressive resume, “the longest-running television show hosted by the same person, on the same network and in the same time slot” by the Guinness Book of World Records, and led to King winning the 1992 Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting, which he had also won for his radio show in 1982” (hollywoodinsider).

King was sent to the hospital with COVID-19 and died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. His family posted on Twitter after his passing and mentioned how even though to the world he was an iconic broadcaster, to them he was a loving father.