Home > News & Advice > News Obituaries > Larry King (1933–2021), longtime host of CNN’s “Larry King Live”

Larry King (1933–2021), longtime host of CNN’s “Larry King Live”

by Linnea Crowther

Larry King was a well-known talk show host who was the star of CNN’s “Larry King Live” for 25 years, interviewing a wide variety of prominent people.

Acclaimed career

King presided over “Larry King Live” from 1985 to 2010. He also hosted the nationally syndicated talk radio show “The Larry King Show,” featuring interviews and call-in segments, from 1978 to 1994. He wrote a column for USA Today from 1982 to 2001, and he wrote a number of nonfiction books on topics including baseball, his history in entertainment, and his experience with heart disease. King was honored with Peabody Awards for both his radio and TV shows, won 10 CableACE Awards, and was ranked the best TV talk show host of all time by Talkers magazine.

The Larry King interview

King was known for his soft interview style, in which he typically asked questions perceived to be easy and lightweight. He was most likely to ask simple questions, like “What do you do?” or “How does that work?” This led some to label his interviews unsubstantial, less useful than interviews that dig in on controversial topics and don’t let up. But King maintained that by skipping the harder-hitting questions – ones he called “combative” – he encouraged his subjects to open up and be candid. The strategy gained King interviews others didn’t get, as when he interviewed the famously reclusive Marlon Brando (1924—2004) in 1994 and televangelist Tammy Faye Messner (1942—2007) just one day before her death from lung cancer.

Advertisement

King on his style as an interviewer

“When I ask a question, it’s almost like I’m saying ‘help me.’ I think basically that’s all we’re doing: ‘help me understand.’ Help me. Explain that to me. ‘Mr. President, you bombed Syria today. Help me understand why.’” —from a 2015 interview with GQ

Tributes to Larry King

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

View More Legacy Videos

More Stories

Advertisement