VIDEO: From presidents to faded stars, all welcomed by Larry King

FILE - In this Dec. 16, 1999 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. George W. Bush jokes with CNN’s Larry King after finishing the “Larry King Live” show from the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, Tenn. King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/John Russell, file)FILE - In this Dec. 16, 1999 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. George W. Bush jokes with CNN’s Larry King after finishing the “Larry King Live” show from the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, Tenn. King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/John Russell, file)
FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2000 file photo, Larry King, host of CNN’s Larry King Live, asks a question to the Republican presidential candidates, from left, Sen. John McCain, Alan Keyes, and Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, during the Republican presidential debate in Columbia, S.C. King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Eric Draper, Pool)FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2000 file photo, Larry King, host of CNN’s Larry King Live, asks a question to the Republican presidential candidates, from left, Sen. John McCain, Alan Keyes, and Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, during the Republican presidential debate in Columbia, S.C. King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Eric Draper, Pool)
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 1995 file photo, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, right, shares a laugh with TV talk show host Larry King during the broadcasting of the “Larry King Live” show from inside the ring at the MGM Grand Gardens in Las Vegas. King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)FILE - In this Aug. 16, 1995 file photo, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, right, shares a laugh with TV talk show host Larry King during the broadcasting of the “Larry King Live” show from inside the ring at the MGM Grand Gardens in Las Vegas. King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 7, 1999 file photo, Donald Trump, right, is interviewed by Larry King during a taping of “Larry King Live,” in New York. King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler, File)FILE - In this Oct. 7, 1999 file photo, Donald Trump, right, is interviewed by Larry King during a taping of “Larry King Live,” in New York. King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 26, 1999, file photo, talk show host Larry King wipes his eyes after laughing at a joke by comedy legend Jerry Lewis, on the set of “Larry King Live” at CNN Studios in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 26, 1999, file photo, talk show host Larry King wipes his eyes after laughing at a joke by comedy legend Jerry Lewis, on the set of “Larry King Live” at CNN Studios in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. King, who interviewed presidents, movie stars and ordinary Joes during a half-century in broadcasting, has died at age 87. Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted that King died Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Larry King was easy to poke fun at, particularly late in his career at CNN: the pinched look, guffaws and coke-bottle glasses, the suspenders and old-time microphone on the desk in front of him.

He was grandpa trying to dance to Drake at a wedding.

But at least grandpa tried, didn’t he? And if you sat down to talk with him, he could take you places with his words, and you would enjoy the journey. You’d certainly be sorry if he wasn’t there.

Hearing about King’s death Saturday at age 87 stirred a similar feeling. The Brooklyn-born King was a classic conversationalist, a throwback to a different era in showbiz and media even during the height of his on-air career.

For 25 years until 2010, “Larry King Live” was a fixture on CNN’s weeknight schedule, and that was after a lengthy career as a late-night radio host. King talked to politicians and musicians, the serious and the silly, not as a newsman but as anyone would if suddenly thrust into the room with a famous face.

Sometimes it felt that way; King would never be accused of over-preparing for an interview. Journalists at CNN gnashed their teeth at missed opportunities to show off their toughness and knowledge if they’d been in his place asking questions of premiers or presidents.

He described himself as a minimalist whose chief goal was to make his guests look good. “I ask short questions,” he said once. “I have no pretense at intellectuality.”

King could fill a blooper reel of gaffes that would have been fatal to the careers of lesser personalities. He mistakenly addressed Ringo Starr as “George,” and notoriously asked Jerry Seinfeld if it was his choice to leave his namesake sitcom or if the network had cancelled it.

But, hey, “Seinfeld” aired at 9 p.m. on Thursdays. So did “Larry King Live.” He was busy.

“You’re not a reminiscencer?’ he asked Prince once.

“Is that a word, Larry?” Prince asked.

“I invented it,” King said.

READ MORE: Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

While King may have sat down to talk to authors without reading their books, he did homework, said Tammy Haddad, his producer for the first eight years King was on CNN. And he wasn’t necessarily an easy inquisitor. Ross Perot didn’t intend to announce his candidacy for president on King’s show in 1992, but the host pressed him – both on the air and during commercial breaks – until he did, Haddad said.

He would make interview subjects feel so comfortable that sometimes they’d reveal more than they had intended, she said.

“Whenever you sat down in Larry King’s TV living room, you felt like you were just having a conversation with a friend and forgot that millions around the world were watching you,” singer Tony Bennett tweeted on Saturday.

The lineup for King’s 25th anniversary shows – LeBron James, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Lady Gaga – spoke to the eclectic mix he tried to bring to “Larry King Live.”

“He’d be happy talking to a taxi driver,” Haddad said. “He came to each of them with the same level of interest.”

His connections brought in some big names: Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra in the last interview he gave before his death. King also had a penchant for fading B- or C-list stars, and few things gave him more pleasure than laughing with Don Rickles for an hour.

He was more than game enough to speak to a younger generation of stars, too, and took a souped-up ride with Snoop Dogg through the streets of Los Angeles.

“Larry King Live” was a type of show that would feel foreign on cable news today, given its obsession with hard-nosed political combat. Podcasts would now be the closest place to get something similar to what King offered, Haddad said.

“I think that’s one of the reasons people are so nostalgic about Larry,” she said. “They really got to know people (King interviewed) in a way that you just don’t have the opportunity to do anymore.”

Among the personalities who took time Saturday to tweet memories and photos of themselves with King was filmmaker Kevin Smith.

“My dad always asked me, ‘Did you see who Larry King talked to last night?’” Smith wrote. “Would’ve blown his mind to know that one day, it would be his son.

“Thanks for that.”

David Bauder, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Newsvideo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An immunizer prepares to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site. (Fraser Health Authority photo)
North Delta COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open ‘in the coming weeks’

Clinic next to Delta City Hall opens March 15 for seniors 90+, Indigenous people 65+, Indigenous Elders

Surrey Police Service cruiser. (File photo)
Surrey Police Service, CUPE sign staff transfer agreement from RCMP to new force

Chief Constable says there will be ‘no disruption’ to police service during transfer

(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of Feb. 21

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

(Delta Police Department photo)
South Delta crime beat, week of Feb. 21

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

SkyTrain running through Whalley. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Mayors’ Council wants feds to fund Surrey-Langley SkyTrain in upcoming budget

Mayors’ Council on regional transportation sent letter to federal government Monday

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Some of the hundreds of pounds of trash removed by divers last month from Abbotsford’s Walmsley Lake.(Henry Wang photo)
VIDEO: Divers remove 462 pounds of trash from Abbotsford lake

Walmsley Lake dive uncovers several tires, hundreds of drink containers and a tent

Trent Miner is returning to the Vancouver Giants, the team announced. He has been released by the Colorado Eagles of the AHL.(Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)
Trent Miner returns to play goal for Vancouver Giants

Netminder was part of epic 11-game winning-streak by Langley-based team

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Most Read