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

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Lead donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at the Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Doug Routley is the chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act. (File photo)
Routley selected chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA acknowledges there will be a lot of material to process

Ladysmith’s famous Festival of Lights decorations are still up as of March 1, 2021. (Cole Schisler photo)
PHOTOS: It’s still looking a lot like Christmas in Ladysmith

Festival of Lights volunteers cannot remove the holiday roof top displays due to COVID-19

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Firefighters from three departments battled a house fire south of Nanaimo for more than nine hours Sunday. (Photo courtesy Martin Leduc)
Home in Cedar destroyed by fire

Firefighters from three fire departments battle blaze fanned by strong winds Sunday

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read