Larry King, the longtime nationally syndicated radio host and nightly fixture on CNN, died Saturday. He was 87.
Mr. King’s death was announced by his production company Ora Media.
“For 63 years and across 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 media company wrote in a Twitter post. “Additionally, while it was his name appearing in the shows’ title, Larry always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of his programs, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and audience.
“Whether he was interviewing a U.S. president, foreign leader, celebrity, scandal-ridden personage, or an everyman, Larry liked to ask short, direct, and uncomplicated questions. He believed concise questions usually provided the best answers, and he was not wrong in that belief.”
Mr. King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his production company said. No cause of death was given, but a spokesperson said Jan. 4 that he had COVID-19, had received supplemental oxygen and had been moved out of intensive care. His son, Chance Armstrong, also confirmed Mr. King’s death, CNN reported.
Mr. King won many honors in his career, including two Peabody awards.
He is highly regarded for his “plainspoken go-between,” as noted by the Associated Press, which helped his show, “Larry King Live,” earn prestige as a place where things happened and where news was made.
Mr. King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews. In 1995 he presided over a Middle East peace summit with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He welcomed everyone from the Dalai Lama to Elizabeth Taylor, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Barack Obama, Bill Gates to Lady Gaga.
His shows were known to feature breaking celebrity news, including Michael Jackson’s friends and family members talking about his death in 2009.
He boasted of never overpreparing for an interview. His non-confrontational style relaxed his guests and made him readily relatable to his audience.
“I don’t pretend to know it all,” he said in a 1995 AP interview. “Not, `What about Geneva or Cuba?′ I ask, `Mr. President, what don’t you like about this job?′ Or `What’s the biggest mistake you made?′ That’s fascinating.”
After a gala week marking his 25th anniversary in June 2010, Mr. King announced he was retiring, telling his viewers it was “time to hang up my nightly suspenders.”
While he returned to CNN within a few months of his retirement, he then found a new sort of celebrity on Twitter, with more than 2 million followers who loved and mocked him for his plainspoken nature.
Funeral arrangements and a memorial service will be announced later in coordination with the King family.