Larry King, Not Going Anywhere
More specials will keep Larry King in the spotlight
Millions of viewers and fans tuned in Larry King’s final interview show on CNN, the week before Christmas, which was loaded with star-studded guests. Although King concluded his hosting chores for CNN’s Larry King Live after 25 years, the 77-year-old broadcaster insisted he’s not hanging up his signature suspenders forever. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m not retiring. I’ve got a lot I want to do. I plan on doing a lot of television specials, and I’ll be making personal appearances, writing, all kinds of things,” reports the man with more than 50 years in broadcasting.
Taking over King’s microphone at CNN is Piers Morgan, the British personality known best in the U.S. for being the irritable judge on America’s Got Talent show. But King just might stop by occasionally to see how things are going.
King knows how to make the show work, having won many industry awards including an Emmy Award, two Peabody Awards and 10 Cable ACE Awards. King has been dubbed “the most remarkable talk-show host on TV ever” by TV Guide and “master of the mike’ by TIME magazine. He has done more than 40,000 interviews including exclusive sit-downs with every U.S. president since Gerald Ford.
Recently he reigned as the Grand Marshal for the 2010 Hollywood Christmas Parade Benefiting Marine Toys for Tots, which aired on the Hallmark Channel.
At the event King said, “I am honored to be this year’s Grand Marshal of the Hollywood Christmas Parade, particularly since Hollywood has been so good to me professionally. I have been in the broadcasting business for 53 years. For the last 25 years I have had the great privilege of hosting my own television show, Larry King Live. For the last 12 years my show has been broadcast from CNN, only a block away from where the Hollywood Christmas Parade originates on Hollywood Boulevard.”
Riding around the parade with his wife Shawn, King greeting everyone in the streets of Hollywood, and saying, “we wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous holiday season.” Shawn is his eighth marriage, to seven wives (the first one married him twice). He just says he loves women, probably to excess. He has three adult children from his previous unions, and two pre-teens, Chance and Cannon, with Shawn.
These are the kind of topics King willingly talks about, as he takes time off from his radio and TV chores to go out on book-signing tours and personal appearances. Most recently he’s been on the road promoting his bestseller “My Remarkable Journey.” And remarkable it has been, from owing thousands of dollars at one time, to becoming a millionaire. “My book tour is not like Sarah Palin’s,” he says, not explaining what he means by that.
He frequently appears at charity galas, and at one at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for A Place Called Home to help underprivileged children, he regaled the crowd with tales of his home life. “My wife, Shawn is 50 and Mormon, I’m in my 70s and I’m Jewish. So I’m here doing what she says.”
King also talked about his two boys, Chance and Cannon, “They’re nine and ten, and no Viagra was involved. I did it the old fashion way.” He says that line always gets a big laugh from everyone. “My two kids are also baseball fans now, and play on a team. I try to go to all of their games.”
The celebrated TV/radio interviewer donates much of his time and money (he’s in the millionaires’ tax bracket) to charities, kids being a major influence on his life, since his own father died when he was nine.
King lives in Beverly Hills and is a frequent diner at the famous Nate’n’Al’s delicatessen in the neighborhood. He likes that it feels like his old Brooklyn days there, since so many ex-New Yorkers are now transplanted and living in the same area.
He says Frank Sinatra was one of the greatest performers and a personal friend. The singer flooded King’s hospital room with flowers when the interviewer was bedridden after a near fatal heart attack. A one-time three-packs-a-day smoker, he quit cold turkey when tobacco gave him the heart attack that sent him rushing to the hospital. Two of his three books dealt with that issue– cancer, smoking, health, etc.
As for the trademark suspenders, they were suggested by one of his wives after he lost so much weight, the belt was not enough.
Who has been his most memorable interview over the years? Without a doubt Marlon Brando. He says he was doing the interview and then “I was kissed on the lips by Marlon Brando. I’d never been kissed by a man before. I’m heterosexual. And, strangely, I can’t stop thinking about it.”