Wed, 03 Mar 2021

Legendary US broadcaster Larry King, who interviewed world leaders, movie stars and ordinary people, and helped define American conversation for half a century, has died. He was 87.

King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded, tweeted. No cause of death was given, but CNN reported Jan. 2 that King had been hospitalised for more than a week with COVID-19. His son Chance also confirmed King's death.

A longtime nationally syndicated radio host, from 1985 through 2010 he was a nightly fixture on CNN, where he won many honours, including two Peabody awards.

With his celebrity interviews, political debates and topical discussions, King wasn't just an enduring on-air personality. He also set himself apart with the curiosity he brought to every interview, whether questioning the assault victim known as the Central Park jogger or billionaire industrialist Ross Perot, who in 1992 rocked the presidential contest by announcing his candidacy on King's show.

Beltway bigwigs

In its early years, "Larry King Live" was based in Washington, which gave the show an air of gravitas. Likewise King. He was the plainspoken go-between through whom Beltway bigwigs could reach their public, and they did, earning the show prestige as a place where things happened, where news was made.

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews. In 1995 he presided over a Middle East peace summit with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He welcomed everyone from the Dalai Lama to Elizabeth Taylor, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Barack Obama, Bill Gates to Lady Gaga.

Especially after he relocated to Los Angeles, his shows were frequently in the thick of breaking celebrity news, including Paris Hilton talking about her stint in jail in 2007 and Michael Jackson's friends and family members talking about his death in 2009.

'I don't pretend to know it all'

King boasted of never overpreparing for an interview. His non-confrontational style relaxed his guests and made him readily relatable to his audience.

"I don't pretend to know it all," he said in a 1995 Associated Press interview. "Not, 'What about Geneva or Cuba?'... I ask, 'Mr President, what don't you like about this job?' Or 'What's the biggest mistake you made?' That's fascinating."

Funeral arrangements and a memorial service will be announced later in coordination with the King family, "who ask for their privacy at this time", according to the tweet from Ora Media.

(with AP)

Originally published on RFI

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