Larry King, born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger on November 19, 1933, was a famous American T.V. and radio host best known for anchoring “The Larry King Show” and “Larry King Live.” He appeared in several films and television shows, always as himself. In 1957, King worked as a disc jockey and appeared in afternoon newscasts. In 1978, he launched “The Larry King Show,” which was broadcasted daily from Monday to Friday. He interviewed guests and allowed callers to ask questions on the show. For over 60 years, King spoke with the world’s newsmakers, leaving behind an immortal legacy after his death in 2021.
Lawrence Harvey Zeiger
November 19, 1933
January 23, 2021 (age 87)
Born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger on November 19, 1933, King, whose zodiac sign is Scorpio, grew up in Brooklyn, New York City. His mother, Jennie Zeiger, was a garment worker from Minsk, Russia, while his father, Aaron Zeiger, was a restaurant owner and defense plant worker, also from Russia. Mr. Zeiger died of a heart attack when King was nine years old — an event that affected his life. He graduated from Lafayette High School and took on odd jobs to support his mother as he nurtured a dream to work on radio. For over 64 years, King shaped ideas around conversation, journalism, and interviews. He spoke with some of the world’s most famous and controversial figures, from politicians like Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush to artists like Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.
In 1957, King was employed as a janitor at W.A.H.R. radio in Miami Beach when one of the radio announcers abruptly quit. The manager put him to work as a disc jockey getting a weekly wage of $50. Because the manager found his name difficult to remember, King changed it from ‘Larry Zeiger’ to ‘Larry King’ after seeing an advertisement in the papers for King’s Wholesale Liquor. King conducted interviews at Pumpernick’s Restaurant in Miami Beach, talking to anyone who walked in. Singer Bobby Darin was his first celebrity interview, and the show made King famous throughout Miami Beach.
“The Larry King Show” debuted in 1978 on the Mutual Broadcasting System. His interview style involved one-hour sessions between him and the guest, followed by another hour where people called in to ask the guest questions. This interactive style was hardly unique, but King’s talent of asking brief questions, listening closely, and following up encouraged guests to open up and reveal themselves. In 1985, he began working with C.N.N. for “Larry King Live,” interviewing celebrities and politicians. Aside from broadcast journalism, King also penned a column in “U.S.A. Today” until 2001. He stepped down from “Larry King Live” in 2010 after 25 years of work, but remained active as a writer and T.V. personality. In 2021 King was hospitalized after developing breathing complications, and on January 23, 2021, he died of sepsis. He left behind a legacy spanning generations.
King gets a disc jockey job at a Miami Beach radio station.
He launches his talk show on the Mutual Broadcasting System.
King takes his show to C.N.N., reaching an even bigger audience.
He is inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Why We Love Larry King
He inspired every interviewer
It’s safe to say that King inspired every interviewer. He laid the foundation for interview shows, teaching others how to dig into their guests' experiences, thoughts, and motivations. He showed interviews don’t have to be boring, formal affairs and that you can still make them fun with a spark of curiosity and humor.
He didn’t take himself too seriously
King’s greatest appeal was familiarity. He made the world’s most famous people feel comfortable and at ease. It was a refreshing break from the rigid, often scripted segments.
He wasn’t too big for the fans
King loved his fans and loved interacting with them. He read their letters and adopted suggestions. He even wore suspenders they sent to his studio. His humility was wholesome.
5 Surprising Facts
He never prepared for interviews
King never read profiles or resumes in advance, preferring to do a minimal amount of preparation before his show — he felt that method helped him have an unbiased approach to guests.
He literally collided with the president
In 1958, King collided with John F. Kennedy’s car and Kennedy promised to forgive the incident if he got King’s vote for president.
He conducted over 60,000 interviews
He was never short of guests on his show, conducting 6,000 interviews on C.N.N. and over 60,000 interviews throughout his career.
His trademark suspenders
King started wearing suspenders after his wife joked he had become too thin — viewers loved it and he decided to stick with it, never wearing the same pair twice.
He was in trouble with the law
In 1971, King was accused of grand theft, but the criminal charges were dismissed due to a statute of limitations — the event ruined his reputation for a while, and he nearly lost everything.
Larry King FAQs
What caused Larry King’s death?
King died of sepsis.
How old was Larry King when he had his last child?
King had his youngest child, Cannon Edward King when he was 66 years old.
Was Larry King in “Gravity Falls?”
He voiced a wax figure of himself in the ‘Headhunters’ episode of the cartoon “Gravity Falls.”
Larry King’s birthday dates