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Laying A King To Rest: Legendary Interviewer Larry King Dies, And Tributes Pour In

The iconic talk show host passed away at the age of 87, leaving many inspired by the memories and legacy he left behind

Before Letterman, Myers, O'Brien, Colbert, Noah, and even Cooper, Lemon, Cuomo, and Amanpour, there was the king. 



Legendary CNN talk show host Larry King preceded the best interviewers we recognize today, hosting Larry King Live for 25 years and filming over 6,000 episodes of the show. He retired from Larry King Live in 2010. 


Larry King died at the age of 87 at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The cause of death was not specified, but it is speculated that the journalist passed away from COVID-19 complications. It's no secret that he was diabetic and had suffered from multiple heart attacks and near-fatal stroke in 2019, and it was also reported that he was admitted for COVID-19 weeks before his death. 


Larry King died, leaving behind many memories of his history-making interviews. His career in radio and broadcasting began much earlier than his leg with CNN, and his life is certainly a proud display of how hard work—and getting back on one's feet after defeat—can get you places. 


Celebrating Larry King's legacy, we take a look back on his greatest milestones and share tributes from those whose lives he'd touched. 


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Self-made


Larry King wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth.


Born in 1933 in them middle of the Great Depression, he was the son of parents who immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union, his real name being Lawrence Harvey Zieger. He didn't have much to go on as a child and teenager who grew up in Brookyln and had only his father's small neighborhood restaurant to bring in money for the family. 


He was 9 years old when his father died and his mother was unable to provide for her children. Needing to help financially, Larry King worked straight out of high school where he met someone who told him about radio broadcasting opportunities opening up in Florida. 


Foregoing a college education, he relocated to the South to begin his career and never looked back. 


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1978


It was in the late 70s when Larry King, who was already in his 50s at the time, launched his first-ever call-in radio show. Though it wasn't his foray into broadcasting, his younger years as a radio talk show host were marred by gambling problems and debt, and it would take years before a mid-life Larry King would be able to get back up on his feet. 


After slowly but surely mending his career, the quick-witted Larry King was rewarded with great success. At its peak, his radio program, The Larry King Show, was aired on over 300 stations and it would ultimately lead to him landing a job with national news giant CNN.   


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Larry King Live


1985 was the year Larry King would begin his long and colorful career as the host of CNN's Larry King Live.


Sitting on desk donning his signature suspenders, dark-rimmed glasses, and sleeves rolled up to his elbows, for almost three decades, this talented interviewer would speak to numerous guests from all walks of life. In fact, he had sewn an envied reputation in the industry for being able to coax the most difficult to reach personalities into joining him for live interviews.


As a starter, Larry King interviewed every single US president since President Gerald Ford, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Dalai Lama (in 1997), pre-presidency Donald and Melania Trump, and Muamar el Gadafi as well as the biggest names in pop culture including *NSYNC to Madonna, Guns and Roses' Slash to Daniel Radcliffe, and even Julie Andrews and The Walking Dead's cast. 


The interviewer also welcomed an array of athletes, scientists, religious figures, guest hosts, and every day folks, giving his late night show a universal appeal that a now international audience loved. 


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Retirement 


Larry King's last on-air interview was aired on December 16, 2010.


At the time of his retirement, it was estimated that he'd done over 50,000 interviews throughout his six-decade career in radio and television. The figures are definitely making it to the record books, but more than the quantity of shows Larry King has under his belt, it's the quality of them that will be forever remembered.


His avid viewers and colleagues have noted how he didn't talk much during shows, and instead, intently listened to answers, allowing them the silence and space to speak freely and comfortably. He had a way with asking questions, too: straight to the point, but still empathetic enough to draw out truth and emotion from his guests. 


The next generation of news anchors, late-night hosts, and even comedians all learned a thing or two from watching the legendary Larry King do what he did best. We list down some of the tributes they shared below. 


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His fellow journalists and television hosts honor his legacy.









Celebrities and athletes who got to meet him remember him fondly.











Political figures had only good memories to share.





Larry King is survived by three children and his wife, Shawn King. 


Photos from @larrykingnow