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

Plans submitted to the Ministry of Forests show an aerial view of the Christian Valley, just outside of Grand Forks. Photo: Government of BC website.
At one-year mark of pandemic, the B.C. tourism sector remains hopeful

The BC Regional Tourism Secretariat and five regional associations …

The Village of Warfield was incorporated in 1952, the year this picture was taken showing Annable. Photo: Joe Guercio
Trail Blazers: Sidebar to Trail-Tadanac amalgamation

Warfield said ‘No’ to amalgamation 54 years ago

Members of the Trail and Tadanac councils signing the long-awaited amalgamation agreement on Feb. 26, 1968. Standing, L-R: Otto Gill (Tadanac), Norm Gabana (Trail), V.D. Arcuri (Trail), Ian Somerville (Tadanac), Ugo DiBiasio (Trail), George Wilson (Tadanac), J.P. Logelin (Trail Administrator), John Hopkinson (Tadanac), and D.K. Smith (Trail). Seated and signing the agreements are Percy Halliwell (Tadanac Reeve) and F.E. “Buddy” DeVito (Trail Mayor). Photo: Trail Historical Society
Trail Blazers: When two towns became one

Trail Blazers is a weekly historical feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

Motorists encountered a delay on Hwy. 3B in Trail Thursday morning. Environment Canada expects up to 20 cm of snow to fall on communities between the Paulson Summit and Kootenay Pass. Photo: Jim Bailey
Snow causes early morning traffic delays in Trail

Environment Canada is calling for up to 20 cm of snow to fall in the West Kootenay region Thursday

Shayna Jones. Photo: Louis Bockner
Kaslo performer collects stories of Black rural experience

Shayna Jones will create a performance piece about Black people ‘tucked away in the countryside’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing escalates to stabbing in Nanaimo

Victim, struck with coffee cup and then stabbed, suffers minor injuries; suspect arrested

One recipient of a $500 donation from Kootenay Savings was Kimberley’s Spark Youth Centre. Above, Cher Berge KSCU & Bev Middlebrooks Spark. Photo submitted
Kootenay Savings hands out donations to non-profits

Employees at each branch picked a non-profit for a $500 gift

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

BC Emergency Health Services Advanced Care Paramedic Practice Educator Trevor Campbell. (Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation - Contributed)
ECG machines onboard Okanagan ambulances for quickest response to heart attacks

Donations from Lake Country, Predator Ridge, Vernon and Armstrong behind purchase of 8 live-saving machines

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read