Larry King wanted to live forever. “The only thing I’m afraid of is dying,” he said in 1992, when he was just 58 years old. No wonder he was a fan of cryonics, the controversial preservation of corpses: after his death he wanted to freeze. give me back “one day, another, better future.
The legendary presenter of the CNN talk show died on Saturday at the age of 87, but his way of interviewing has been around for a long time. For decades, King was the main focus of the United States: the man everyone wanted to chat with because he talked to everyone about everything. I could – Presidents and rappers, philosophers and Hollywood stars.
That is precisely why King has long been the most successful interviewer in the world, but at the same time. Although in the end he was at least as famous as his guests, he never got too close to anyone. His questions often seemed shockingly naive, but they elicited answers that investigative journalists fished in vain. Professionals wrinkled their noses, albeit more out of professional envy.
Photo: Shayna Brennan / AP
The king flattered everyone equally, both the kings and the assassins. Today, when entertainment and entertainment has been transformed into autocratic propaganda and television reality into a political horror program, this would be unthinkable and intolerable. King was first a pioneer of his time, and then his relic.
It was the time of big names and the biggest scandals. For example, former football star OJ Simpson, who was arrested for murder in 1993. The sensational trial, one of my first stories as an American correspondent, was a bewilderment in which everything that the Germans likes to split into “E” and “U” has always been mixed here: politics with show, opera with soap opera.
“How are you?”
Right in the middle: Larry King, the strange master of ceremonies. During the trial of the Simpsons, he crouched in the courtroom during the day, after which the actors often headed straight from there to confess to their Sunset Boulevard studio. And who made Simpson his first interview the day after the acquittal, at best, problematic? King, who shouted jovially, “How are you?”
So he talked to everyone, whether it was Liz Taylor or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It took you to the white heat. But who wanted to know what for real It was happening in Hollywood and the White House had to turn on Larry King Live in the evening. There he learned more about the secrets of secrecy than in the lead desert of the “New Yorker.”
“The greatest radio journalist of all time”
Its CNN talk show, which ran from 1985 to 2010, was the most popular series in the station’s history, with an average of 1.5 million viewers, but mostly many more. CNN founder Ted Turner hired him in person. The two “biggest hits” of his career, Turner said Saturday, were CNN and the employment of Larry King, “the best radio journalist of all time.”
He never went to a journalism seminar or even went to high school, which only increased the arrogance of the “serious” industry. The Jewish immigrant son from Brooklyn was working as a doorman on a small radio station in Miami in 1957, when he was allowed to perform for a DJ. He was soon talking to Muhammad Ali, Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis.
Betting on debts, ego and fraud charges almost killed his career. CNN saved him. He conducted about 60,000 interviews, with suspenders and in front of an RCA microphone. He was seen at Moscow hotels and Sydney airport.
Millennial journalistic formula
King’s Everyman style was authentic, despite living in Beverly Hills in a mansion with golden chintz furniture. He seldom prepared because his questions matched everything: “Who, what, where, when?” And most of all, “Why?” As soon as a question has more than three sentences, I knew it was “a bad question.”
This millennial journalistic formula overwhelmed many of his disdainful critics, who preferred to be heard. “My secret is that I’m stupid,” he once said, which was far from true. He was humble and curious, really interested and criminally underestimated. Stroking instead of confronting, a deceptive trick. Some interviewers might take this as an example.
Seven presidents of the United States were revealed to him, from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama. He listened to the Clintons and Monica Lewinsky (separately). He asked Ronald Reagan what it was like to shoot me (“I had trouble breathing”) and Richard Nixon if I had ever been to the Watergate building (no, “but unfortunately others were there”). Donald Trump was a regular friend and guest, until his presidency: “This Donald is not the Donald I once met,” King said in 2019.
He spoke with Jassir Arafat and Jitzchak Rabin, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Madonna and Paul McCartney, Vladimir Putin, Bette Davis, the Beatles, Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Liza Minelli, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Betty Ford, Michelle Obama , Sammy Davis Jr., Henry Kissinger and a lady named “Kathy the Nymph.” Kermit and Miss Piggy wore suspenders in her honor. Marlon Brando – the no He gave interviews: she kissed him on the mouth.
Only the honorable competition could never make him friends. King is the “vacation spot for American journalism, Palm Springs media,” Maureen Dowd, a star columnist for the New York Times, said. The Washington Post described his interviews as a “casual joke” and his program as an “oasis for the famous and infamous.”
CNN dropped it in 2010 when fights became elegant and chatty in the past, and gave way to British presenter Piers Morgan, who preferred to be heard talking. The last time he moderated, King shed tears. He went online, signed a much-maligned licensing deal with Russian state channel RT and began tweeting: snippets of thoughts he dictated to an aide (“I’ve never been in a canoe”).
King, married eight times (with seven wives), survived two heart attacks, a quadruple bypass, lung cancer, angioplasty and a stroke in 2019 that left him in a coma for weeks. Since December he had been lying with Covid-19 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the VIP clinic where numerous stars he had interviewed had also died.
His death again provoked “Breaking News” on CNN, which mourned him all day later, ten years late. Many stars gave their condolences live. It was Larry King’s perfect show.