Veteran TV host Larry King has died, aged 87.
An official statement posted to King’s Twitter account said he had passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning aged 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles,” the statement read.
“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 broadcaster was treated for Covid-19 this month.
King survived a major heart attack in 1987. In 2017, he revealed he had been treated for lung cancer; two years later he had an angioplasty and suffered a stroke.
Last year, he suffered the loss of two of his adult children – son Andy and daughter Chaia – within weeks of each other.
Despite this, King continued to release new episodes of his YouTube series Larry King Now, and had plans to venture into the world of podcasting.
In a career spanning six decades, King interviewed a staggering number of celebrities, political leaders and public figures, including every US president from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump.
Among the celebrities he interviewed over the years were Marlon Brando, Snoop Dogg, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Seinfeld, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Prince, and Sir Paul McCartney.
Associated Press estimates that over the course of King’s career, he conducted over 50,000 interviews.
Born in New York City in 1933, King began his career in journalism as a local reporter in Miami, Florida.
He rose to national fame with the launch of The Larry King Show in 1978, before moving over to CNN for Larry King Live between 1985 to 2010, when he was usurped by Piers Morgan. The chat show was cancelled in 2014, after a fall in ratings.
King had no qualms about criticising Morgan’s interviewing style. Speaking at an event in 2015, he said Morgan made the interviews “all about him”.
“My problem with Piers was nothing personal, but he was the antithesis of what I was … it was all about him,” he said.
“He used the word ‘I’ a lot. So when I was asked I said: ‘Look, I like him personally, but that’s not my type of show’.”
King, whom Morgan once branded “an old goat”, continued: “I don’t berate guests and I don’t make it about me. The guest isn’t a prop. I didn’t enjoy that. And I would say that about any host who I felt didn’t serve his audience well. And I think Piers did not do that. I didn’t like that type of interview.”
King won two Peabody Awards for his work in broadcasting, and was inducted into both the National Radio Hall of Fame and the Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Alongside his journalism career, he made a number of cameos in TV shows and films, usually as himself, including in Ghostbusters, Frasier, 30 Rock, and American Crime Story.
The statement on King’s death described how he had “always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of his programmes, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and audience”.
“Whether he was interviewing a US president, foreign leader, celebrity, scandal-ridden personage or an everyman, Larry liked to ask short, direct, and uncomplicated questions,” it continued.
“He believed concise questions usually provided the best answers, and he was not wrong in that belief.”
Married eight times, King once told The Guardian that he believed all women were “crazy”, and that he did not understand them.
“But I appreciate them,” he said. “I’ve always been for equal rights. I’ve worked for women, always been for equal pay. I’m a feminist.”
Asked whether America was ready for a female president – this at a time when Hillary Clinton was running against Donald Trump – King responded: “Absolutely.”
“I like Donald a lot, but I don’t agree with a lot of what he says," he said of Trump. “He’s always been very kind to me. The night before my surgery, he took my wife out to dinner.”
Piers Morgan was among those to pay tribute to King, tweeting: “RIP Larry King, 87. A true legend.”
He described the late TV host as “a brilliant broadcaster and masterful TV interviewer”.
CNN anchor Jim Acosta wrote: “Broadcasting legend and longtime CNN host Larry King has passed away. He will be missed by so many CNN employees past and present. #RIPLarryKing.”
Former Cheers star Kirstie Alley wrote: “RIP Larry King.. one of the only talk show hosts who let you talk. Legendary.”
“RIP Larry King!!!!” wrote talk show host Andy Cohen. “I loved the easy breezy format of his CNN show, and his amazing voice.”
Funeral arrangements for King and a memorial service will be announced at a later date.