LOS ANGELES (AP) – Larry King, who has interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary people for half a century in the electronic media, has died at the age of 87.
Ora Media, the studio and the network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. No cause of death was confirmed, but CNN had previously reported that he was hospitalized with COVID-19.
King was a perennial star of late-night television on CNN from 1985 to 2010. He won two Peabody Awards, but he never came across as intellectual. He preferred to ask presidents what they liked about their jobs rather than foreign policy. It hosted everyone from the Dalai Lama to Elizabeth Taylor, through Mikhail Gorbachev, Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Lady Gaga.
With his interviews with celebrities, political leaders, and topic analysis, King was more than just an enduring media personality. He distinguished himself by the curiosity he brought to each interview, whether it was questioning the woman victim of an attack known as “Central Park Jogger” or the industrial billionaire Ross Perot, who shook the presidential race in 1992 by announcing his candidacy on the show. King.
In its early years, “Larry King Live” was made in Washington, DC, which gave the show a certain seriousness, as did King. He was the right person for the big shots around him to reach out to their audience, and they did, giving the show prestige as a place where things happened, where news was made.
King conducted nearly 50,000 interviews on the air. In 1995, he chaired a summit on the Middle East with the president of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
His shows used to feature celebrity scoops, especially after he relocated to Los Angeles, including Paris Hilton talking about his time in prison in 2007 and Michael Jackson’s family and friends talking about his death in 2009.
King bragged that he never prepared too much for an interview. His style of avoiding confrontation relaxed his guests and made him close to his audience.
“I don’t pretend to know everything,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1995. “Nothing like ‘what’s going on in Geneva or with Cuba?’ I ask him, ‘Mr. President, what don’t you like about your job?’ or “What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?” That’s fascinating. “