Larry King Biography
Claim to Fame: Talk show host
DOB: November 19, 1933
Diabetes Type: 2
Raised by his widowed mother, Larry King (born Lawrence Zeiger) grew up under modest circumstances in Brooklyn. His father, a bar owner, died when he was nine, and his mother hadto go on welfare to support King and his younger brother. Discouragedby his father's death, King stopped paying attention in school,dooming his chances for higher education. After graduating from highschool, he went to work to help support his mother.
King's dream was to work in radio. So after receiving advice from a CBS staff announcer in New York, King moved to Miami in the late 1950s where he worked for station WAHR as a disc jockey and sports talk-show host. It was then that he decided to change his name. After a year, King joined WKAT, a station that gave DJs a great deal of freedom to develop their personalities. King took advantage of the opportunity by inventing a character called "Captain Wainright of the Miami State Police."
In 1958, King's celebrity status led to his first major break as host of an on-location interview program from Miami's Pumpernik Restaurant. He interviewed whoever happened to be there at the time. Never knowing who his guest would be and unable to plan in advance, he began to perfect his interviewing style, listening carefully to what his guest said and then formulating questions as the conversation progressed.
Impressed with King's Pumpernik show, WIOD employed him in 1962 to do a similar radio program originating from a houseboat formerly used for the ABC television series, Surfside 6. Because of the show's on-the-beach location and because of the publicity it offered the television series, Surfside 6 became an enormous success. WIOD gave King further exposure as the color commentator for the Miami Dolphins' broadcasts. King did double duty as a Sunday late-night talk show host over WLBW-TV. In 1964, he left WLBW-TV for a weekend talk show on WTVJ-TV. He added newspaper writing to his agenda with columns for The Miami Herald, The Miami News, and The Miami Beach Sun-Reporter.
By the 1970s, King was a well-known local TV and radio figure, as well as newspaper columnist. He was gaining notoriety then he almost lost it all. King ran up outrageous bills and fell $352,000 into debt. He was also charged with grand larceny and accused of stealing $5,000 from a business partner. On March 10, 1972, the charges were dropped, but the scandal nearly destroyed his career. It would take four years before he worked regularly in broadcasting again. King candidly presented this period of his life to the public in his book, Larry King.
In the spring of 1974, King took a public relations job with a horse racing track in Shreveport, Louisiana. In the fall, he became the color commentator for the short-lived Shreveport Steamers of the World Football League. In 1975, after returning to Miami, he was re-hired by a new general manager at WIOD for an evening interview show similar to his previous program. Over the next several years, King gradually recovered as a TV interviewer, a columnist for The Miami News, and as a radio commentator for the Dolphins. Still deep in debt, he claimed bankruptcy in 1978.
In the same year, the Mutual Broadcasting Network persuaded him to do a late-night talk show that debuted in 28 cities as the Larry King Show on January 30, 1978. It was first aired from WIOD, but beginning in April 1978, the show originated from Mutual's Arlington, Virginia studios. Larry King Live debuted on CNN in June of 1985. In February 1993, King's radio talk show on Mutual (now the Westwood Mutual Broadcasting System) moved from late night to an afternoon drive time reaching 410 affiliates. By June 1994, Westwood also began simulcasting King's CNN live show, the first ever daily "TV/radio talk show." As part of the agreement, King dropped his syndicated radio show, a move that ended his regular radio broadcasting activities.
It was in 1987 that King suffered a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery. The health scare inspired him to stop smoking and develop a healthier lifestyle. Despite the changes, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the mid-1990s. In an August 2009 Diabetes Forecast interview, King reveals that his aunt had diabetes, but she appeared healthy to him so, "diabetes was just a word to me." Today, King says, "I take the medication. I have my checkups. I exercise a lot, everyother day. I do the treadmill and a lot of fast walking. I take myGlucophage and my Januvia, which is fairly new. Ive been taking it fortwo or three years. I try to reduce my sugar intake a great deal, but Istill manage to have a bagel every other day. There have been two orthree times in the last 15 years when I got lightheaded."
Known for a distinct interviewing style, King has had the pleasure of interviewing thousands of people, from Yassir Arafat to Paul McCartney. In 1989, the Guinness Book of World Records credited him as having logged more hours on national radio than any other talk show personality in history.
King has been the recipient of numerous awards such as:
- University of Georgia's George Foster Peabody Award, 1982
- National Association of Broadcasters' Radio award, 1985
- Jack Anderson Investigative Reporting award, 1985
- International Radio and TV Society's Broadcaster of the Year, 1989
- American Heart Association's Man of the Year, 1992
- Broadcaster's Hall of Fame, 1992
- American Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award, 1996
- a star on the Walk of Fame, 1997
- Promax/BDA's Television Century Award, 2006
King has made cameo appearances in more than 20 movies, includingGhostbusters, Primary Colors, America's Sweethearts, Shrek 2 and the2004 remake of The Stepford Wives. King has also appeared in televisionseries such as "Law and Order," "Boston Legal," "The Practice," "Arli$$," "Murphy Brown," and "Frasier."
Outside of television, Larry King founded the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars and provided life-saving cardiac procedures forneedy children and adults. He also established a $1 million journalism scholarship at George Washington Universitys School of Media and Affairs for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and is also involved in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
King is married to singer/actress Shawn Southwick-King and is the father of Andy, Larry Jr., Chaia, Chance and Cannon and stepfather to Danny Southwick.
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