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Larry King Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of talk-show host Larry King, who conducted more than 30,000 interviews, including with sitting US presidents from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama.


Birth date: November 19, 1933

Death date: January 23, 2021

Birth place: Brooklyn, New York

Birth name: Lawrence Harvey Zeiger

Father: Edward Zeiger, a restaurant owner

Mother: Jennie (Gitlitz) Zeiger

Marriages: Shawn Southwick (1997-January 23, 2021, his death, had filed for divorce in 2019); Julie Alexander (1989-1992, divorced); Sharon Lepore (1976-1983, divorced); Alene Akins (1967-1971, divorced); Mickey Sutphin (1964-1966, divorced); Alene Akins (1961-1963, divorced); Annette Kaye (divorced); Freda Miller (divorced)

Children: with Shawn Southwick: Cannon, Chance and Danny Southwick (stepson); with Alene Akins: Andy and Chaia; with Mickey Sutphin: Kelly; with Annette Kaye: Larry Jr.

Other Facts

Surviving heart problems, including several heart attacks and quintuple bypass surgery in 1987, led King to establish the Larry King Cardiac Foundation to help those without insurance afford medical treatment.

His marriage to Shawn Southwick took place at UCLA Medical Center as King was being admitted for chest pains and just before undergoing cardiac surgery.

Appeared as himself in numerous films and television programs and published over twenty books including his autobiography, a novel and a children’s book with one of his daughters.

Hosted a podcast with his wife Shawn, “Back and Forth with Shawn and Larry King.”

Nominated for eight News and Documentary Emmy Awards and won two. King was also presented with a lifetime achievement award in 2011.

King was arrested in 1971 for grand larceny but was never prosecuted due to the statute of limitations. The trouble started when financier Lou Wolfson gave King $5,000 to give to Jim Garrison, who was investigating the John F. Kennedy assassination. King allegedly spent the money. The scandal led to King losing his job at the radio station WIOD in Miami.


1957 – After changing his last name from Zeiger to King, begins a radio career as a disc jockey at WAHR-AM in Miami.

1958-1961 – Hosts a live audience interview show at Pumpernik’s Restaurant in Miami.

1965 – Is hired as a columnist for the Miami Herald to replace Walter Winchell.

December 1971- Is arrested in Miami on charges of grand larceny.

1972-1975 – Leaves Florida and becomes a freelance writer and broadcaster in Louisiana. Also does public relations work for a racetrack.

1978 – Returns to Miami and to WIOD radio. King joins the Miami News as a columnist and returns to TV as an interviewer.

January 30, 1978 – “The Larry King Show,” a nationally syndicated late-night radio talk show, debuts in 28 cities. In five years it is in 118 cities.

1982 – King’s first column appears in USA Today and “The Larry King Show” wins a Peabody Award.

April 1982 – Wins a News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writer for “The Best Little Statehouse in Texas.”

June 3, 1985 – Larry King Live premieres on CNN.

1988 – Establishes the Larry King Cardiac Foundation to help those in need afford treatment.

1989 – Is inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

1992 – Is inducted into Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

February 20, 1992 – Ross Perot announces his bid for in the 1992 presidential election on Larry King Live.

1992 – Larry King Live Election Coverage 1992 wins a Peabody Award.

November 9, 1993 – Vice President Al Gore and Perot appear on Larry King Live to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement.

January 14, 1998 – Interviews death row inmate Karla Faye Tucker at the Mountain View Unit, Texas Department of Corrections.

September 1999 – Wins a News and Documentary Emmy for Outstanding Interview/Interviewer for the show with Tucker.

September 24, 2001 – His last column appears in USA Today.

April 2003 – His novel, “Moon Over Manhattan: Mystery & Mayhem,” is published.

2007 – Fiftieth year in broadcasting.

July 11, 2008 – The intersection of Sunset and Cahuenga Boulevards is renamed Larry King Square. The CNN Los Angeles bureau is located there.

May 2009 – His autobiography, “My Remarkable Journey,” is published.

June 29, 2010 – Announces his decision to retire from Larry King Live after 25 years.

December 16, 2010 – The final show of Larry King Live airs.

April 14, 2011 – “Larry King: Stand Up,” the first in a series of one-man comedy shows, opens in Torrington, Connecticut.

September 26, 2011 – King receives a lifetime achievement award at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards in New York.

July 16, 2012 – Online series “Larry King Now” debuts on Ora TV.

October 23, 2012 – Moderates the third-party presidential debate in Chicago.

May 29, 2013 – A Russian-owned news channel, RT, announces King will host “Larry King Now” on their network RT America beginning in June.

September 8, 2016 – Conducts an interview with Donald Trump that is distributed to RT. The segment stirs controversy because of his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia and ends in silence when Trump is asked about his feelings on Mexican immigrants. “I don’t know what happened there, we did not lose the connection, so something happened,” King says on the show. The next day, King tells Erin Burnett that Trump’s team apologized to producers after ending the interview.

September 13, 2017 – King announces that he was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer in July 2017 and that he underwent surgery the same month to remove the malignant tissue.

April 29, 2019 – In a statement, Ora TV says that King is recovering after undergoing a procedure to address chest pain. According to the statement, King’s doctor “successfully performed the angioplasty and inserted stents to reopen the previous bypass from 1987.”

May 22, 2020 – King announces he is launching a celebrity interview podcast called “The Millionth Question” with his son, Chance, and producer Jeff Beacher.

July 28, 2020 – King’s son, Andy, dies.

August 2020 – King’s daughter, Chaia, dies after battling lung cancer.

January 2021 – According to a source close to the King family, King has been hospitalized with Covid-19.

January 23, 2021 – King’s son, Chance, confirms that King has died at age 87.

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