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Larry King dies at 87: Piers Morgan leads tributes to legendary talk show host

Jimmy Nsubuga
·4-min read
Talk show host Larry King attends a party to celebrate his 20 years with CNN in Beverly Hills on October 6, 2005. King hosts "Larry King Live", the first worldwide phone-in television talk show, which debuted on CNN in 1985.
Larry King has died aged 87 (Reuters)

Tributes have been paid to legendary talk show host Larry King who has died aged 87 after being hospitalised with COVID-19.

King was at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for more than a week before his death was announced on Saturday.

Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan led the tributes, posting a picture of the former Larry King Live host on Twitter.

Morgan, who fell out with King after he replaced him on CNN, described the American as as “a hero of mine” and a “brilliant broadcaster” and “masterful interviewer”.

Morgan and others, including Star Trek actor George Takei and talk show host Craig Ferguson, have posted tributes:

CNN President Jeff Zucker released a statement praising his former colleague.

He said: “We mourn the passing of our colleague Larry King. The scrappy young man from Brooklyn had a history-making career spanning radio and television.

Zucker added: “From the CNN family to Larry’s, we send our thoughts and prayers, and a promise to carry on his curiosity for the world in our work.”

King had been hospitalized in LA with a COVID-19 infection, according to several media reports.

He had endured health problems for many years, including a near-fatal stroke in 2019 and diabetes.

Ora Media, a television production company founded by King, confirmed his death in a statement on social media.

It said: “For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.”

Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Bradley, right, makes a point to Larry King during taping of "Larry King Live" Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1999, at CNN studios in Los Angeles. Bradley, who called health care coverage an unalienable right as much as the guarantees of "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" would allow Americans to enroll in the same health care coverage provided for members of Congress and federal employees, potentially exploding the size of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
King during taping of Larry King Live in 1999, with Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Bradley (Reuters)
Former President Bill Clinton (R) speaks with Larry King on CNN in New  York on September 3, 2002, about the Families of Freedom Scholarship  Fund. Clinton and former Senator Bob Dole have raised over $100 million  to fund college scholarships for dependent children who lost a parent  in the attacks on September 11. REUTERS/Chip East    CME
Former President Bill Clinton (R) speaks with Larry King (Reuters)

Millions watched King interview world leaders, entertainers and other celebrities on CNN's Larry King Live, which ran from 1985 to 2010.

Hunched over his desk in rolled-up shirt sleeves and owlish glasses, he made his show one of the network's prime attractions with a mix of interviews, political discussions, current event debates and phone calls from viewers.

Critics accused King of doing little pre-interview research and tossing softball questions to guests who were free to give unchallenged self-promoting answers.

He responded by conceding he did not do much research so that he could learn along with his viewers.

Besides, King said, he never wanted to be perceived as a journalist.

"My duty, as I see it, is I'm a conduit," King told the Hartford Courant in 2007.

"I ask the best questions I can. I listen to the answers. I try to follow up.

“And hopefully the audience makes a conclusion. I'm not there to make a conclusion.

“I'm not a soapbox talk-show host... So what I try to do is present someone in the best light."

Watch: Larry King dead at 87