Larry King Remembered as ‘TV Pioneer’ and ‘True Mensch’

The beloved interview-show host died Saturday at age 87

Last Updated: January 23, 2021 @ 2:04 PM

Tributes poured in on Saturday for Larry King, the beloved suspender-wearing TV show host who interviewed everyone from world leaders to Hollywood stars to ordinary Americans over the course of a six-decade broadcast career.

King died Saturday at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he had been hospitalized last month with COVID-19.

“We mourn the passing of our colleague Larry King,” CNN President Jeff Zucker said in a statement. “The scrappy young man from Brooklyn had a history-making career spanning radio and television. His curiosity about the world propelled his award-winning career in broadcasting, but it was his generosity of spirit that drew the world to him. We are so proud of the 25 years he spent with CNN, where his newsmaker interviews truly put the network on the international stage.”

“Just heard the awful news about Larry King,” former late-night host Craig Ferguson tweeted. “He taught me so much. He was a true mensch. He probably even taught me that word. So long pal, thanks for all the laughs. Say hi to Rickles.” (The last is a reference to Don Rickles, the comedian and frequent King guest who died in 2017.) 

New York governor Andrew Cuomo also offered his praise: “Larry King was a Brooklyn boy who become [sic] a newsman who interviewed the newsmakers. He conducted over 50,000 interviews that informed Americans in a clear and plain way.”

Piers Morgan, who replaced King on CNN, also offered his praise — despite King’s dismissal of his version of the show. “Larry King was a hero of mine until we fell out after I replaced him at CNN & he said my show was ‘like watching your mother-in-law go over a cliff in your new Bentley.’ (He married 8 times so a mother-in-law expert) But he was a brilliant broadcaster & masterful TV interviewer.”

Newt Gingrich, who recalled that he occasionally guest-hosted for King, offered his praise and condolences: “Larry King was a legendary radio and tv pioneer. … Larry will be missed but he left fond memories.”

NBC News veteran Carl Quintanilla shared a memorable exchange with Jerry Seinfeld that revealed King’s legendary practice of not preparing for interviews in advance and noted that King “pioneered the live-interview environment we now take for granted — where you weren’t exactly sure the whole chat wouldn’t simply combust.”