(LOS ANGELES) — Legendary talk show host Larry King, whose career took him from local to syndicated radio to global TV stardom, has died at age 87.
A statement from King’s production company, Ora Media, posted on King’s official Twitter announced his death “with profound sadness,” saying King “passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.” A spokesperson for King’s family also confirmed his death to ABC News.
On January 2, King was hospitalized for COVID-19 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a source close to the King family told ABC News then.
King overcame several health challenges over the years, including a heart attack that led to bypass surgery and ultimately encouraged King to quit smoking. King also survived lung cancer and underwent surgery at Cedars-Sinai in 2017, and was treated for prostate cancer in 1999.
In 2019, King suffered a stroke that left him unable to walk on his left foot, and he was sometimes seen using a wheelchair afterward.” I never thought I’d be 86,” King told Page Six at the time. “My father died when he was 43, 44. I thought I would die too.” “I have no complaints. Everything that’s happened to me, I’m grateful for,” he added. “Maybe that sounds cliché, but I’m really, really grateful.”
The award-winning newsman, whose lengthy career earned him the nickname “The Iron Horse of Broadcasting,” was known for his gravelly baritone, signature suspenders and straightforward questions, a style honed over the course of tens of thousands of interviews on the radio and television.
Born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger, the Brooklyn native wanted to be on the radio from a young age. After graduating high school, he got his first radio job in Florida in the 1950s. He got his first break on-air in Miami, where he became known by the moniker Larry King, which he ultimately made his legal name.
In 1978, King began hosting the nationally-syndicated The Larry King Show on the Mutual Broadcasting System, which he hosted for 16 years before stepping down in 1994. During that time, he also made the move to TV, and hosted the CNN program Larry King Live from 1985 to 2010. Oprah Winfrey notably endorsed Barack Obama on the show during the 2008 presidential campaign.
In recent years, King hosted Larry King Now on Hulu, RT American and Ora TV, the latter a production company King co-founded with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim in 2012. King was also hosting the show Politicking with Larry King on the channels until his death.
King didn’t escape controversy over his decades-long career. Most recently, in 2019, he unknowingly filmed a Chinese propaganda infomercial in a fake interview with a Russian journalist, as reported by ProPublica. “I never should have done it, obviously,” King told the publication then.
King was recognized with two Peabody Awards and one Emmy Award, among other honors. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1992.
King has also authored several books, did voice work in TV shows and movies, including Shrek 2 and Bee Movie, and made cameos in TV shows and films, including Ghostbusters.
In 1988, a year after he survived a heart attack, the newsman founded the Larry King Cardiac Foundation to help those with heart disease pay for their medical treatment.
A lifelong Dodgers fan, from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, King was often seen behind home plate at Dodgers Stadium.
King was married eight times to seven women and had five children. In August, 2020, he revealed that two of his children had died within weeks of each other. Andy, 65, died of a heart attack on July 28, 2020, and Chaia, 51, passed away on August 20 shortly after a lung cancer diagnosis.
King is survived by his sons, Larry, Chance and Cannon, as well as nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
By Meredith DelisoCopyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.