Lawrence Harvey Zeigler (1933-1959)
He was born to Orthodox Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York. His mother was a garment worker from Lithuania and his father was a restaurant owner from Ukraine.
After his father died at age 9, his mother moved him from Brooklyn to a small apartment in Bersonhurst and applied for welfare. Devastated by his father’s loss, he lost interest in school. After barely passing and graduating high school, King took advantage of the time to listen to the radio as research. He wanted to become a radio broadcaster.
After moving to Miami in 1957, he would work odd jobs before taking a radio job as a morning DJ at WAHR.
Larry King (1959-2021)
It was suggested to King by his manager to change his name because his surname Zeigler would be difficult to pronounce and it would be considered “ethnic.” So, he chose the name Larry King.
He switched his radio job from WAHR to WKAT in a Jewish deli called Pumpernick’s. King would interview restaurant patrons and staff members, before attracting famous names like Bobby Darin and Jimmy Hoffa.
Throughout his career, King was noted for his smooth, gravely voice and asking simple, uncomplicated questions. These factors made him attractive to famous people, since he did not press them with hard-hitting questions.
After being dropped over charges of larceny, King went to WIOD to launch his national career in 1977. After years of interviewing guests, the show won a Peabody Award in 1982. He eventually gained the attention of the president of CNN, Ted Turner, who gave him his own show on CNN in 1985.
This would become the magnum opus of his career for 25 years, with 6,000 episodes and 1 million viewers per night. He would interview many famous people, presidential candidates, world leaders, and athletes.
King married and divorced several times.
He passed away at the age of 87 after complications due to COVID-19. He is survived by three sons.
- Christina and Jordana (July 5, 2010). “Goodbye Larry King”. Schema Magazine. Archived from the original on July 16, 2010.
- Miller, Hayley; Moran, Lee (January 23, 2021). “Larry King, Iconic TV And Radio Interviewer, Dies At 87”. HuffPost – via Yahoo!.
- “The Nine Lives Of Larry King”. Sun Sentinel. 1988. Archived from the original on October 18, 2015.
- Skidmore, Gage. “Larry King by Gage Skidmore 2.” Wikipedia. 2017. CC BY-SA 3.0. Changes include placing image between background images.