Covid-19: Legendary American presenter Larry King dies at 87 from coronavirus

An opinion leader until the end, television presenter Larry King was not helped by his latest public messages, in which he urged his followers to wear a mask and maintain social distance. The television legend died this Saturday at the age of 87 after being admitted for coronavirus at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at Christmas. The American communicator who made the interview an art had previous ailments that the contagion of the virus ended up finishing off, although his relatives have not made public the cause of death.

His telegeny, credibility and a recognizable image, with everlasting suspenders, wide-screen glasses and noisy ties, created modern television in the United States, that which combines the rhythm of the spectacle and the informative rigor, with an affable and carefree tone but at the same time. Once incisive, he anticipated the bloodhound instinct of his heirs on the airwaves, like the feisty Christiane Amanpour, to name just one other cathode star. For a quarter of a century, he presented the Larry King Live program on CNN, the network that has resized television information, in which he interviewed all US presidents in office since 1974 and a good number of international leaders such as the Palestinian Yasir Arafat or the Russian Vladimir Putin.

King left CNN in 2010, but continued in the breach with a talk show posted on his website. Two years later he launched Larry King Now on Ora TV, a subscription video channel. Two months ago, when he turned 87, he thanked on the social network Twitter for all the congratulatory messages that colleagues and fans had sent him, along with a photograph in which he appeared looking good despite his type 2 diabetes, and the notches of several heart attacks and a lung cancer overcome. In 1987 he suffered a massive heart attack that required a fivefold bypass, an experience he shared in two books and a British television documentary. Life hit him hard too: Last summer he lost two of his children within three weeks.

His coverage of the 1991 Gulf War, the first to be broadcast live on television, is part of the history of journalism, from the missile shower that traced colored ellipses over the Tigris to the oil-soaked cormorant in Kuwait that was later discovered that it was a montage, perhaps the first fake news on contemporary television. From the studios, Larry King was at the foot of the cannon that first night live of the war, connecting with the special envoy of the chain in Baghdad, the also legendary Peter Arnett, but also in the rear, asking politicians, the military, victims and executioners. After interviewing the experts, King opened the microphones to the viewers, making the program a barometer of public opinion.

Before tasting the honeys of success, King, the prominent hook nose and powerful head of a Roman Emperor, held a wide variety of media jobs. Born in Brooklyn in 1933 as Zeiger King, his two decades of forging in Miami were a dissipated time between mediocre work, bohemianism and debt. He started out as a DJ, but he also cleaned offices, and achieved some notoriety by interviewing ordinary people live at a restaurant. He later began sandwiching celebrity guests, leading him to work at a local television network where he joined entertainment legend Jackie Gleason. In the 1970s, while he was broadcasting Miami Dolphins games and had a local sports radio show, he became a national celebrity and finally joined CNN in 1985 with Larry King Live, where he stayed until 2010. Neither seniority nor age they prevented trying new formats, like a weekly podcast called Politicking with Larry King, or even a clip of Bryan Cranston explaining the Power Rangers.

His relaxed manner, in shirt sleeves and resting his chin on his hands, has gone down in television history as the touches of the toupee of Jesús Hermida, one of his debtors. “I have never considered myself a reporter. I am the magazine of a newspaper. I’m trying to be entertaining and informative, ”he often said about the recipe for his success, which turned his show into a subway car at rush hour: in the same week he interviewed Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, back in the nineties, the all-powerful executive Lee Iaccoca and Michael Jordan. In total, the New York Times estimates, some 50,000 people, from heroes to villains, kings or criminals, visionaries or academics, answered his questions.