Larry King, former star interviewer for CNN news channel, died Saturday 23 January. He was 87 years old. He was a pioneer in his own way. A meme ahead of time, with its wide glasses, straps and vintage RCA mic. Also one of the first to develop, intuitively, a mix of information and entertainment promised to devastating success, especially for the first of the two ingredients.
The entomologist of the small world of the celebrity, Maureen Dowd, had described in the New York Times the Larry King show as “The vacation resort of American journalism, the Palm Springs of media where politicians and other controversial and famous personalities can come to unwind and relax.”
Lawrence Harvey Zeiger was born in Brooklyn in 1933 into a Jewish family from Eastern Europe. His father, who runs a restaurant, died prematurely when he was only 9 years old. The family survives by means of federal social programs. After schooling limited to a minimum, the young man was quickly attracted to the media world. At the age of 23, he went to Florida, a state that was beginning to change thanks to the development of air conditioning and where outsiders could try their luck. By dint of will, he managed to occupy a position of disc jockey, then his career took off with a first interview program that bears his stage name and a regular platform in the Miami Herald.
His bulimia is not limited to his job, however. Inveterate player, licensed runner, he accumulates debts and marriages, often with glossy mannequins. A personal bankruptcy and trouble with the law precipitated a first crossing of the desert at the end of the 1960s. Larry King multiplied odd jobs until luck beckoned him again.
In 1978, he got a slot on the Mutual Broadcasting System radio station. Seven years later, Ted Turner, inventor in 1980 of the first 24-hour news channel, CNN, offered him the platform that would establish his own celebrity, the “Larry King Live”, a show that had the effect of a pause in the middle of the reports which tell and show the crash of the world. It will earn him dozens of appearances in films or television series where he is content to be Larry King, shirt sleeves rolled up, intense gaze and narrow shoulders of a wader leaning towards his guest.
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