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Larry King dead: US talk show legend dies aged 87 after catching coronavirus

Marilyn Santiago, Shaw King, Larry King & THT's Valerie Milano @ NATPE Fountainbleu Hotel, Miami FL (Photo: TheHollywoodTimes)

American talk show legend Larry King has died aged 87.

He passed away this morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles after a battle with coronavirus

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A statement posted online by his Ora Media company confirmed the sad news.

It read: “With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the sad death of our co-founder, host, and friend Larry King.

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“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television, and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.

“Additionally, while it was his name appearing in the shows’ titles, Larry always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of his programs, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and audience.

“Whether he was interviewing a U.S. president, foreign leader, celebrity, scandal-ridden personage, or an everyman, Larry liked to ask short, direct, uncomplicated questions.

Larry King has been a staple of US television for decades
Larry King has been a staple of US television for decades (Image: Getty Images)

“He believed concise questions usually provided the best answers, and he was not wrong in that belief…

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“Ora Media sends our condolences to his surviving children Larry, Jr, Chance, Cannon, and the entire King family.

“Funeral services and a memorial service will be announced later in co-ordination with the King family, who ask for privacy at this time.”

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King was admitted to hospital in Los Angeles In January after contracting Covid-19.

His death comes after years of health problems that plagued the star over the years including battles with lung and prostate cancer.

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Larry King was born Lawrence Zeiger
Larry King was born Lawrence Zeiger but changed his name after starting in radio (Image: Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

He also survived a heart attack in 1987 and a near-fatal stroke in 2019, which had left him in a coma for weeks.

King was born Lawrence Zeiger in Brooklyn, New York, and began his career as a journalist after moving to Florida.

He started off in radio, landing his first on-air presenting gig in 1957 and going on to adopt his new name of Larry King on the advice of his station manager.

He legally changed his name two years later.

Larry King in 1986
He got his big break in radio (Image: Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images)

After spending years naming a name for himself in radio, he moved into TV in 1960 hosting a local news show called Miami Undercover, and got the chance to work with comedian Jackie Gleason who became a mentor to the young reporter.

His career suffered a blip in 1971 when he was arrested after being accused of ripping off a business associate. He lost his radio and TV job and ended up working as a racing announcer.

King pleaded no contest to one count of passing a bad cheque and managed to get back into TV four years later and by 1978 he’d landed his own national radio show.

During his years hosting his nightly program for Mutual Broadcasting System, King interviewed guests and taking phone calls from listeners in a format that would become his trademark.

The Larry King Show ran from 1978 until 1994, winning King a coveted Peabody Award in 1982.

He kept the radio show going while also working in TV, starting Larry King Live on CNN in 1985 which propelled him to a new level of fame.

Larry King hosted Larry King Live for 25 years
Larry King hosted Larry King Live for 25 years (Image: Getty Images)

The show covered a broad range of topics from current affairs to wacky conspiracy theorists and celebrity guests and became a US TV staple.

King continued hosting the show for 25 years until he stepped down in 2010 and handed it over to Piers Morgan who took over from him.

He signed off his final show, saying: “I don’t know what to say except to you, my audience, thank you. And instead of goodbye, how about so long.”

The telly veteran continued making appearances for CNN in later years, and also hosting web series Larry King Now, a politics show, Politicking with Larry King.

Larry King was a titan of talk shows
Larry King was a titan of talk shows (Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Larry King and his wife Shawn King attend the 23rd annual Race to Erase MS Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 15, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California
Larry King and his wife Shawn King attend the 23rd annual Race to Erase MS Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 15, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California (Image: Getty Images)

In his personal life, King was married eight times, to seven women- marrying and divorcing former Playboy bunny Alene Akins twice during their rocky on/off romance.

His final marriage was to seventh wife Shawn Southwick in 1997, with the pair tying the knot in a Los Angeles hospital shortly before the telly star was due to undergo heart surgery.

Their relationship collapsed in 2010 and they reconciled but filed for divorce again in 2019.

Larry King with his wife Shawn King and their son Cannon King
Larry King with his wife Shawn King and their son Cannon King (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Over the years King became a dad to five children and welcomed nine grandchildren, as well as four great-grandchildren.

He suffered a terrible tragedy last year when two of his children, daughter Chaia King and son Andy King, both died within three weeks of each other unexpectedly over the summer.

Chaia died after a battle with lung cancer and Andy was struck down by a heart attack.

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Valerie Milano is the well-connected Senior Editor and TV Critic at TheHollywoodTimes.today, a website that aggregates showbiz news curated for, and written by, insiders of the entertainment industry. (@HwoodTimes @TheHollywood.Times) Milano, whose extraordinary talents for networking in the famously tight-clad enclave of Hollywood have placed her at the center of the industry’s top red carpets and events since 1984, heads daily operations of a uniquely accessible, yet carefully targeted publication. For years, Milano sat on the board as a chief organizer of the Television Critics Association’s press tours, held twice a year in Beverly Hills and Pasadena. She has written for Communications Daily, Discover Hollywood, Hollywood Today, Television International, and Video Age International, and contributed to countless other magazines and digests. Valerie works closely with the Human Rights Campaign as a distinguished Fed Club Council Member. She also works with GLSEN, GLAAD, Outfest, NCLR, LAMBDA Legal, and the Desert Aids Project, in addition to donating both time and finances to high-profile nonprofits. She has been an active member of the Los Angeles Press Club for a couple of years and looks forward to the possibility of contributing to the future success of its endeavors. Milano’s passion for meeting people extends from Los Feliz to her favorite getaway, Palm Springs. There, she is a member of the Palm Springs Museum of Art and a prominent Old Las Palmas-area patron.