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

Just Posted

This rendering shows the proposed warehouse for lands under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority near a Sidney residential neighbourhood. (York Realty/Submitted)
Sidney asked to show patience about identity of would-be warehouse operator

President of York Realty says nobody is trying to hide anything

Saanich police reported an increase in violent crimes and a drop in traffic incidents in the first three months of 2021 compared to the final quarter of 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich police report increase in violent crimes during first quarter of 2021

More domestic violence, less property crime and distracted driving compared to end of 2020

Donna Brower (left) and her daughter Carol Anne Penner, members of the Silver Swans – a quilting group of 12 ladies who meet at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary – with a mountain of masks they sewed. (Photo submitted by Julia Dawson)
Saanich quilting group nabs first prize in Volunteer BC photo contest

Silver Swans sewing club raised more than $12,000 for Swan Lake nature sanctuary

The City of Victoria is proposing a northern contraction from Haultain Street to Bay Street with a western contraction from Cook Street to Chambers Street for Fernwood. (Illustration/Google Maps)
Community association calls for input on Victoria boundary changes

City of Victoria proposes changes to neighbourhood borders

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The committee is looking into Government Spending, WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
BREAKING: Trudeau didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, watchdog says

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion found that former finance minister Bill Morneau did violate the rules

Tinder. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. man granted paternity test to see if Tinder match-up behind ‘beautiful baby’

Through the courts, the plaintiff is seeking contact with the infant he believes is, in fact, his child

Nurse Tami Arnold prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. (Kareem Elgazzar/AP)
B.C. adults 30+ now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Health officials made the announcement Wednesday afternoon

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
Watchdog: logging practices put Vancouver Island old growth, biodiversity at risk

Forest Practices Board has issues with BC Timber Sales practices in Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni

Erik Christian Oun, who worked for the Coquitlam school district, has had his teaching licence suspended for half a year. (Pixabay)
B.C. teacher suspended after calling students ’cutie’ and ‘sweetheart’ in online messages

Erik Oun’s licence has been suspended for half a year, a decision made by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

Scenes like this one in the dugout are all too frequent for parents and kids arriving to play baseball at Nunns Creek Park these days, spurring a request to the city to let them move to the Sportsplex in Willow Point. Photo from CRMB presentation to City of Campbell River
Needles, feces and the unhoused send Island kids baseball program to greener pastures

Campbell River minor baseball program switches ballparks over growing safety concerns

New homes are built in a housing construction development in the west-end of Ottawa on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Budget’s foreign-homebuyers tax could bring in $509 million over 4 years, PBO says

Liberals are proposing a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign non-residents

Most Read