The iconic American journalist Larry King died on Saturday at the age of 87, his company reported.
Ora Media did not indicate the cause of his death but, according to several media outlets, he had been fighting COVID-19 for weeks and had had health problems in recent years.
King, with his famous suspenders and thick black-framed glasses, was known for his CNN talk show “Larry King Live,” which he hosted for 25 years.
“For 63 years and on platforms such as radio, television and digital media, the thousands of interviews, awards and global recognition for Larry are a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a communicator,” reads the Ora Media statement posted on Twitter .
The long list of those interviewed by King includes all the presidents of the United States since 1974, leaders like Yasir Arafat or Vladimir Putin and celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and Barbra Streisand.
The last broadcast of “Larry King Live” was in 2010, an emotional program with tributes such as, for example, that of then President Barack Obama, who considered him “a giant of communication.
As soon as the news of his death was known, tributes began to arrive from the media, politics and the world of Hollywood cinema. Putin hailed his “great professionalism and undoubted journalistic authority,” according to a statement issued by the Kremlin.
CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour remembered him as “a communication giant and a master of the interview with celebrities or heads of state.”
He added: “His name is synonymous with CNN and was vital to the growth of the network. EVERYONE wanted to be on Larry King Live. May he rest in peace.”
The figure of “Star Trek” and social networks George Takei highlighted that King understood “the triumph and the human weakness equally”, while the actress Kirstie Alley, famous for the series “Cheers”, said that he was “one of the few talk show hosts who let you talk. “
– Love for the radio –
Born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger on November 19, 1933, to a humble home of Russian Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn, King always said that all he was interested in was being a radio host.
At age 23 he moved to Florida in order to look for work.
In 1957 he became a “disc jockey” for a Miami radio station, when he changed his last name to King because the manager told him that Zeiger was “very ethnic.”
For another Miami radio station, he recorded broadcasts from a restaurant with interviews conducted before the audience.
In 1978 he moved to Washington to host a late-night radio show before being detected by CNN.
The chain founded in 1980 hired King in 1985 to put him in charge of its nightly broadcasts.
“Larry King Live” aired from 1985 to 2010, six nights a week with a reach of more than 200 countries. CNN has estimated that he conducted about 30,000 interviews.
At the height of its success, the show drew more than a million viewers each night and made King the star of cable television, earning more than $ 7 million annually.
Faced with criticism for being sometimes very soft with his guests, he replied: “I’m not interested in humiliating them, I’m not interested in flattering them,” he told AFP in 1995. “I’m just curious.”
After leaving CNN, he aired interviews on his website and later hosted the “Larry King Now” show on Russia Today, a government-funded international network.
His private life was also unique: he was married eight times – twice with the same partner – and divorced eight times.
“Instead of goodbye, how about see you soon,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion on the latest “Larry King Live” show.