Larry King Show
“I never think of access or good will. I just want a good interview. I want guests to be informative and entertaining. I've never been concerned about someone's liking me tomorrow.” Larry King
American journalist, broadcaster and talk-show host Larry King is well-known as the host of “Larry King Live” (CNN, 1985-present), one of the longest running and most-seen interview programs on television. He also hosted the national late-night radio show “Larry King Show” from 1978 to 1994. In the world of broadcasting since the 1950s, the celebrated King has collected many honors, including George Foster Peabody Awards for both his radio and television shows in 1982 and 1999, respectively. He also took home the 1998/99 News Emmy for his interview with Karla Faye Tucker and a noted 10 Cable ACE awards. Other honors include the Mahoney Award from Harvard University (2000), a President’s Award from the Los Angeles Press Club (1996) and various honorary degrees. King was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997. Adding to his popularity, King has appeared as himself in several motion pictures and television shows, done voice-over work and written several successful books.
As for his personal life, King has been married seven times and is known for his charitable activities, which includes supporting students from deprived backgrounds by giving journalism scholarship to George Washington University’s School of Media and Affairs. After suffering a heart attack in 1987 that led to bypass surgery, King founded The Larry King Cardiac Foundation in 1988, to provide financial support for bypass surgeries and other similar procedures.
Childhood and Family:
The son of Russian immigrants, Lawrence Harvey Zeiger, professionally known as Larry King, was born on November 19, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a defense plant employee and ran a restaurant and his mother worked in a garment company. At age 11, his father died of a heart attack. This death highly impacted Larry and caused him to concentrate in school. After graduating from Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, New York, in 1951, he decided not to go to college in favor of taking several jobs to help support his mother, who after the death of Larry's father was forced to go on welfare to support her children. Larry has a younger brother named Marty.
Larry has been married several times. In 1952, he tied the knot with Freda Miller, but the bond was later annulled. He next married Alene Akins, an ex-Playboy bunny, but their marriage only lasted for two years from 1961 to 1963. During this period, the couple adopted a son named Andy King (from Akins' first marriage). After his third marriage to wife Mickey Sutphin ended in separation (together from 1963 to 1967), which produced a daughter named Kelly, Larry reconciled with Alene Akins, whom he remarried in 1967. They welcomed a daughter later that same year named Chaia King. They divorced for the second time in 1972. Larry had two more failed marriages (Sharon Lepore, together from 1976 to 1984, and Julie Alexander, together from 1989 to 1992) before exchanging wedding vows with present wife Shawn Southwick. Married on September 5, 1997, the couple has three sons, Danny Southwick (born in 1981, from Southwick's previous marriage), Chance Armstrong King (born on March 9, 1999) and Cannon Edward King (born on May 22, 2000). Larry also has another son, Larry King Jr. (born in 1962), whose mother was not married to Larry.
After completing high school, Larry King worked odds jobs until he accidentally met a CBS broadcaster who encouraged him to pursue a radio career in Florida. He then packed his stuff and moved there, where he first got a job cleaning up at WIOD-Radio. His luck started to change when an announcer left the station and he was recruited to be a successor. By 1957, he was serving as a disc jockey and hosting a sportscast and two newscasts. At about the same time, King adopted his surname because he felt that Zeiger sounded too Jewish.
In 1960, King broke into television by hosting a local debate program called “Miami Undercover” on WPST (now WPLG). Unfortunately for King, he had to face bankruptcy because of his lavish lifestyle. He continued his career by hosting a weekend show on WTVJ in 1964 and embarking on a new profession as a columnist for the “Miami Herald” in 1965. 1968 marked King's involvement with Wall Street financier Louis Wolfson, from whom the radio personality got money to fund New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison, who was investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. Three years later, King was arrested of alleged taking money from Wolfson, who admitted that not all the money lent to King made it to Garrison. King, who previously had dealt with serious financial problems, could not repay the amount and eventually pled no contest to passing bad checks. In addition to ending his broadcast career for three years, the scandal also forced King to file for bankruptcy a second time in 1978.
During his absence from broadcasting, King supported himself by working as a director of public relations for the Louisiana Downs racetrack and writing articles for “Esquire” magazine. A gig as a commentary for a Louisiana football broadcast led to his return radio career with WIOD in Florida. King's career gained a huge boost when he was hired to host a national late-night radio show on the Mutual Network, replacing the late and popular host John Nebe. The live program, renamed “The Larry King Show,” ran from 1978 until 1994, when the time slot (from midnight to 5:30 a.m.) was switched to mid-afternoon and ratings suffered a decrease.
Thank to the “Larry King Show,” King achieved national fame. Though the show was unsuccessful, it put the host on the radar of media mogul Ted Turner, who hired King to host his own talk-show on Cable News Network (CNN). Debuting in 1985, “Larry King Live” went on to become one of the top-rated shows on television and the most successful program on CNN in the 1990s. King has interviewed a number of political figures like Mikhail Gorbachev, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Queen Noor of Jordan, and Bill and Hilary Clinton, and music, sports and movie personalities such as Prince, Mike Tyson, Audrey Hepburn, Marlon Brand, Paris Hilton, and others. In 1993, he received attention when the show conducted a debate between Ross Perot and Al Gore. With 16.3 million viewers watching, the episode became the highest rated in the history of CNN.
In addition to his TV show success, King still found time to write a weekly column for “USA Today,” a gig he held from 1982 to 2001, and has published several bestselling books, including “Tell It to the King,” “Anything Goes!: What I've Learned From Pundits,” “Love Stories of World War II,” “Politicians and Presidents,” and “How To Talk To Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere.” King also appeared in such films as “Ghostbusters” (1984), “Lost In America” (1985), “Dave” (1993), “Primary Colors” (1998), “Enemy of the State” (1998) and “John Q” (2002), as well as in TV shows like “Murphy Brown,” “Arliss,” “Frasier,” “The Practice” and “The Simpsons.” His voice can be heard as Ugly Stepsister in “Shrek 2” (2004), Doris in “Shrek 3” (2007) and Bee Larry King in “Bee Movie” (2007).
GLAAD Media: Vanguard Award, 1999
Peabody: Excellence in Broadcasting, 1982 and 1992
CableAce: Won 10 times for Best Interviewer and Best Talk Show Series