Larry King, the giant of American broadcasting, died at the age of 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 had earlier reported he was hospitalized with COVID-19.
A longtime nationally syndicated radio host, from 1985 through 2010 he was a nightly fixture on CNN, where he won many honors, including two Peabody awards.
AP reports that 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.
King boasted of never over-preparing for an interview. His nonconfrontational 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.”
At a time when CNN, as the lone player in cable news, was deemed politically neutral, and King was the essence of its middle-of-the-road stance, political figures and people at the center of controversies would seek out his show.