Larry King rightly titled his biography, My Incredible Journey. In his over five decades in the media, King is considered one of the most influential shapers of American broadcasting, thanks to his unique interviewing style. Since he kicked off his widely watched show, Larry King Live in 1985, King has conducted over 40,000 interviews and is famed for being the first individual to go head-to-head with the most U.S. Presidents since Gerald B. Ford.
Additionally, he has interviewed high-profile personalities such as Billy Graham, Magaret Thatcher, Malcolm X as well as high-net-worth individuals. So far, his incredible work has won him the names including “Muhammad Ali of the Broadcast Interview.” He has won several awards including an Emmy, two Peabodys and 10 Cable ACE Awards.
Larry King’s Age and Early Life
Larry King was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, on November 19, 1933, to Orthodox Jewish parents, Aaron Zeiger and Jennie Gitlitz. His father, Aaron, was a Ukraine-born restaurant owner and defense plant worker, while his mother, Jennie, was a Lithuania-born garment worker. He and his brother were raised and schooled in Brooklyn.
Growing up, King attended Lafayette High School; a public high school based in Brooklyn. King tragically lost his father to a heart attack when he was just nine, confining the bereaved family to welfare support. Deterred by his father’s death, he resorted to pursuing a career rather than continue school. Following graduation from high school, King began working full time to support his mother, however, his utmost goal was to work in radio broadcasting.
On the advice of a CBS staff presenter, King moved to Florida, to pursue a career in broadcasting. After a few reversals, he eventually secured a job at WAHR (now WMBM); performing cleanups and other miscellaneous responsibilities – the opportunity came calling when an announcer quit, and King was asked to fill in temporarily. It was May on 1, 1957. He began anchoring afternoon newscasts and a sportscast; with a take-home of $50 a week.
It was at WAHR the name “King” was added to his name. He adopted it in response to his manager’s complaint that he sounded too ethnic and that his full name was difficult for listeners to remember. After working various roles in radio presenting, his big break finally came in 1978 when he secured a night talk show slot on the Mutual Broadcasting System. King had gone national.
In 1982, he became a fixed columnist for the newspaper, USA Today; he would do that until 2002. In 1984, King began hosting his own CNN show, ‘Larry King Live’, where he featured several high profile guests and discussed all range of issues from psychics to UFO conspiracy theories and other happenings in the entertainment industry. King alongside, Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim, in 2012 co-founded ‘Ora TV.’ The company began hosting King’s new talk-oriented web show, ‘Larry King Now’ from July of that year.
After suffering a heart attack in 1987, Larry King founded the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which footed the enormous bills for complex cardiac procedures for patients who couldn’t otherwise afford them. The media guru has also involved himself with other philanthropic efforts including donating to the victims of the Beverly Hills 9/11 Memorial Garden.
Asides his autobiography, My Incredible Journey, King has authored two other books about his experience as a heart patient. They include, Mr. King, You’re Having a Heart Attack: How a Heart Attack and Bypass Surgery Changed My Life (1989) and Taking On Heart Disease: Famous Personalities Recall How They Triumphed over the Nation’s #1 Killer and How You Can, Too (2004).
Asides broadcast interviews, King has also guest starred in episodes of the series Gravity Falls, Arthur, and 30 Rock. He’s also had cameo roles in Ghostbusters and Bee Movie and voiced the character of Doris the Ugly Stepsister in Shrek 2 and its sequels. He also appeared as himself in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Since 2011, King has run several TV infomercials most of which he’s appeared interviewing guests on products like Omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplement OmegaX.
Awards and Recognitions
Larry King’s five-decade-long career has put him at the receiving end of several awards and recognition. In 1982 and 1992, he was presented the Peabody Award for ‘Excellence in broadcasting’ for both radio and television shows, respectively. He’s a recipient of the President’s Award (2006) for his impact on media from the Los Angeles Press Club.
King received the Golden Milk Award for ‘Lifetime Achievement’, from the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California in 2009. He has won 10 CableACE Awards for Best Interviewer’ and ‘Best Talk Show Series. Larry King remains the first recipient of the Arizona State University Hugh Downs Award for Communication Excellence (2007). So far, he has received several honorary degrees from establishments such as Bradley University, George Washington University, and the Columbia School of Medicine.
As of 2019, sources reveal Larry King’s net worth to be around at $150 million. Much of which has come from his over 50-year media career and his numerous investment portfolios.
Details of His Wife and Kids
Larry King’s marital life is as old as his career, if not older. Over the decades King has been married 8 different times to as many as 7 women. When he first said “I do” back in 1952, the eighteen-year-old was marrying his high school sweetheart, Freda Miller. Regrettably, the union was canceled a year later by their parents. King wouldn’t be married again until 1961 when he tied the knot with Annette Kaye. Even though the union barely lasted until the end of that year, it produced his first child, Larry Jr. (b. November 1961). That same year, King married former Playboy Bunny, Alene Akins. King adopted Akin’s son, Andy, in 1962, but they were married only two years; and divorced in 1963.
A year later, King married Mickey Sutphin. The three-year-long marriage produced his second child, a daughter, Kelly. She divorced him in 1967. In 1968, Larry King remarried his third wife, Alene Akins. This time they had a daughter, Chaia (b. 1969) and the union ended in 1971.
This time, King took a break and wouldn’t venture into another marriage until September 1976. Then, he married a mathematics teacher and production assistant, Sharon Lepore, but their union lasted until 1983. Larry remained single until October 1989 when he married businesswoman, Julie Alexander. The couple were separated in 1990 and were officially divorced in 1992. Then in 1997, he married singer, actress, and TV host, Shawn Southwick. King seemed to have gotten it this time. Their union is over two decades strong. However, it would’ve been another break-up story in 2010 save for a divorce which was later called off. The divorce rumors resurfaced in 2016 when news sources revealed Shawn’s alleged affair with one Robert Green. Nevertheless, the couple is still married. Together, they have two sons, Chance Armstrong (b. March 1999) and Cannon Edward (b. May 2000).
Is He Dead?
As far as we know, Larry King is alive and resides in Beverly Hills, California and continues to manage effectively his heart condition. He reportedly had a scheduled angioplasty surgery in April 2019 where he had stents inserted.
His seeming ill health notwithstanding, King remains fairly active in his career. He had a rather controversial interview with Donald Trump in September 2016.
Larry King’s eight marriages have produced five children, nine grandchildren, as well as four great-grandchildren.