Who was Larry King?

The late American TV and radio show host Lawrence Harvey Zeiger, remembered better as Larry King, was born in New York City USA, on 19 November 1933, meaning that Scorpio was his zodiac sign. He won numerous awards for his work, including 10 Cable Ace Awards, an Emmy and two Peabodys; Larry conducted more than 50,000 interviews during his career, and is probably still remembered best for his talk-show “Larry King Live”, which aired on CNN from 1985 through 2010.

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Education and early life

Larry and his brother Marty Zieger were raised in New York City by their father Aaron who was born in Pinsk, Russian Empire and was a restaurant owner, and mother Jennie (nee Gitlitz) who was born in Minsk, Russian Empire and was a garment worker; both Jennie and Aaron were Orthodox Jews, and moved from Belarus to the USA only a year before Larry was born.

Larry was nine when his father died from a heart attack, and his family then relied on government welfare; even though Larry was amongst the best students at his elementary school, he lost interest in studying following his father’s death, as the two were very close. He still studied at Lafayette High School, from which he matriculated in 1952; Larry then found a job instead of pursuing a college degree, as he wanted to help his mother.

Larry’s career

Larry wanted to work in broadcasting, and a CBS staff announcer whom he met by chance advised him to move to Florida, as the media market was growing there; Larry thus moved to Miami and was hired at the radio station WAHR.

After one of the station’s announcers quit abruptly, Larry was given his position and was paid $50 a week. He then began conducting interviews for the radio station WIOD, and his first celebrity interview guest was the late American musician and actor Bobby Darin.

He hosted the WPST-TV show “Miami Undercover” in May 1960, and steadily built himself a fanbase in the ‘60s.

In 1970 and 1971, Larry worked as a color commentator for WIOD, covering the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League (NFL), but was fired on 20 December 1971 after having been arrested for larceny; the charges were later dropped, and WIOD re-hired Larry.

He began hosting “The Larry King Show” on the Mutual Broadcasting System on 30 January 1978, spending the first hour of the show interviewing a guest, while callers would ask the interviewee questions for the following two hours; at the end of the show, Larry would express his own opinion. The show steadily became a hit; it soon had 28 affiliates, eventually reaching over 500, but Larry chose to quit in 1994.

He began hosting “Larry King Live” on CNN in June 1985, interviewing people from various fields, including physicists, conspiracy theorists and country presidents; he also spent the following 20 years writing columns for the daily newspaper “USA Today”. Larry retired from hosting “Larry King Live” in 2010, replaced by British broadcaster and journalist Piers Morgan.

Larry co-founded the production company Ora TV in March 2012, and on 17 July 2012 began hosting his new talk-show “Larry King Now”; he stopped hosting the show not long before he passed away.

Larry made a guest appearance in many comedy series, including “30 Rock” and “Arthur”; he voiced Doris in the critically acclaimed 2004 animated fantasy comedy movie “Shrek 2”, and also voiced a supporting character in the 2007 animated comedy “Bee Movie”.

Love life and marriages

Larry was married eight times, twice to the same woman. He was 19 when he and his high school girlfriend Freda Miller exchanged vows in a small ceremony in 1952; the marriage was annulled in the following year.

Larry married his second wife Annette Kaye in 1961, but they divorced only a couple of months later; Annette gave birth to their son Larry Jr. in November of the same year, but Larry only met his son when he was in his 30s.

His third wife was Playboy Bunny Alene Akins; they exchanged vows in 1961, but divorced two years later. Larry married his fourth wife Mary Francis ‘Mickey’ Sutphin in 1963 – she divorced him in 1967, and he married Alene Akins again in the same year (some sources state in 1969). She gave birth to their daughter Chaia, but they divorced in 1972.

Larry’s next wife was American production assistant and math teacher Sharon Lepore; they married on 25 September 1976 and divorced in 1983.

He proposed to American businesswoman Julie Alexander on their first date on 1 August 1989, and they exchanged vows on 7 October of the same year; they split in 1990 and divorced two years later.

Larry was engaged to the late American actress Deanna Lund in 1995, but they split before they could exchange vows.

He married his seventh wife, American actress and singer Shawn Ora Engemann in 1997; she gave birth to their first son Chance in March 1999, and their second son Cannon followed in May 2000. Shawn filed for divorce in 2010 but withdrew the request after she and Larry reconciled; she filed again on 20 August 2019, but it wasn’t finalized at the time of Larry’s death.

Larry had five children, nine grandkids and four great-grandkids; he outlived his son Andy who died from a heart attack in August 2020, aged 65, and his daughter Chaia who died from lung cancer a couple of weeks later, aged 51.

Interesting facts and hobbies

Larry and his seventh wife Shawn appeared in the wrestling show “WWE Raw” in October 2012.

He was a philanthropist; Larry founded the non-profit organization Larry King Cardiac Foundation in 1987, following his heart attack, and through it paid for life-saving surgery for people who weren’t able to afford it. He also donated to the Beverly Hills 9/11 Memorial Garden.

Larry was a huge fan of Major League Baseball (MLB), and cheered for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He took human growth hormone every day in his 80s.

Although initially agnostic, Larry revealed in 2015 that he was an atheist.

Larry enjoyed watching movies; his favorite actor was John Travolta, and some of his favorite films were “Pulp Fiction”, “Grease” and “Hairspray”.

Death

Larry suffered a heart attack on 24 February 1987 and had to undergo quintuple bypass surgery; this led him to author two books about living with a ‘faulty heart’. He smoked three packs of cigarettes a day prior to the heart attack, but then stopped smoking.

Larry had lung cancer in 2017, and it was successfully removed via surgery.

He suffered a stroke in March 2019, and was in a coma for nearly a month; he underwent angioplasty on 23 April 2019, and later revealed that he contemplated suicide following the stroke.

Larry was diagnosed with coronavirus and hospitalized on 2 January 2021; he died from sepsis on 23 January of the same year, aged 87.

Height, eyes and wealth

Larry would’ve been 89 today. He had brown hair and eyes, was 5ft 8ins (1.75m) tall and weighed around 145lbs (67kgs).

At the time of his passing, Larry’s net worth was estimated at over $50 million.

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