Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
For other people named Larry King, see Larry King (disambiguation).
King grew up and attended public schools in Brooklyn. His childhood friends included the baseball pitcher Sandy Koufax and the owner of the New York Mets, Fred Wilpon . He lived for some time in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from high school, King worked odd jobs, including a stint as a mail clerk with Associated Merchandising Corporation and then with United Parcel Service. He left Brooklyn for Miami at the age of 22 to pursue a job in radio.
Breaks into radio in Miami
He got his first job in radio through persistence. A small station, WAHR in Miami Beach, hired him to clean up and perform miscellaneous tasks. When one of their announcers quit, they put him on the air. His first broadcast was on May 1, 1957, when he worked as the disc jockey from 9 am to noon. He also did two afternoon newscasts and a sportscast. He was paid $55 a week. He acquired the name Larry King, when the general manager suggested that Zeiger was too ethnic and hard to remember. He started interviewing on a midmorning show for WIOD, at Pumpernik's restaurant in Miami Beach. He would interview anyone who walked in. His first interview was with a waitress at the restaurant.
His Miami radio show launched him to local stardom. A few years later, in May 1960, he hosted Miami Undercover airing Sunday nights at 11:30 on Channel 10. On the show he moderated debates on important issues of the day.
Legal and financial troubles
In the early 1970s, he was entangled in legal and financial troubles. He was arrested on December 20, 1971 and charged with grand larceny. The charges stemmed from a deal he had made with Louis Wolfson. In 1968, Wolfson was convicted of selling unregistered stock.
The circumstances are unclear. According to King, he told Wolfson that he could arrange a special investigation by John Mitchell, the incoming US Attorney General, to overturn the conviction. Wolfson agreed, and paid King $48,000. King never delivered, and couldn't pay back the money. When Wolfson was released from prison, he went after King. According to Wolfson, King served as an intermediary between Wolfson and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. Garrison was investigating the assassination of President Kennedy, but needed to raise funds for the investigation. Wolfson offered to pay $25,000 to help fund the investigation. The arrangement was that Wolfson gave Larry King cash (about $5,000 per visit). King was supposed to give this to Richard Gerstein, the State Attorney for Dade County. Gerstein was to transfer the money to Garrison. This took place over a year or two. Wolfson eventually found that not all the money he gave to King made it to Garrison.
The larceny charge was dropped, because the statute of limitations had run out. But King pled no contest to one of 14 charges of passing bad checks.
As a result of these troubles, he was off the air for three years. During those three years he worked several jobs. He was the PR director at a race track in Louisiana and he wrote some articles for Esquire Magazine, including a major piece on New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath.
Comeback to radio and TV
Eventually he was rehired on the radio in Miami. In 1978 he went national. He hosted a nightly talk show on the Mutual Radio Network that was broadcast coast-to-coast. It ran until 1994. For a time it overlapped with his CNN show, giving him a reputation as a tireless worker. He started his CNN show in June 1985.
Unlike many interviewers, Larry King has a direct, non-confrontational approach. His interview style is characteristically frank and no-nonsense, but with occasional bursts of irreverence and humor. His non-confrontational approach attracts some guests who would not otherwise appear.
Throughout his career he has interviewed many of the leading figures of his time. Among his most famous interviews were Tony Blair, Marlon Brando, Barbara Bush, Johnny Carson, Bette Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Gleason, Mikhail Gorbachev, Billy Graham, Audrey Hepburn, Gordon B. Hinckley, Bob Hope, L. Ron Hubbard, Michael Jordan, Bobby Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Monica Lewinsky, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Al Pacino, H. Ross Perot, Prince, Nancy Reagan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Pete Rose, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Margaret Thatcher, Oprah Winfrey and Malcolm X. In all, he has interviewed over 40,000 people.
His large glasses, rolled up sleeves, tie, and suspenders have become his trademark, and he never appears on the show wearing anything different. His various personal interests, such as his love of sports and his hometown of New York City, are frequently brought up in interviews, both by King himself and the interviewee.
He has received many broadcasting awards. He won the Peabody Award for Excellence in broadcasting for both his radio (1982) and television (1992) shows. He has also won 10 Cable ACE awards for Best Interviewer and for best Talk Show Series.
Community and family
King has been generous in giving back to the community. After suffering several heart attacks, he established the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, an organization to which David Letterman, through his American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming, has also contributed. King gave $1 million to George Washington University's School of Media and Affairs for scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Larry King has been married seven times, including two marriages to the same woman. His current wife is singer Shawn Southwick. He has fathered five children from his various marriages: Andy, Larry Jr., Chaia, Chance and Cannon.
- Academy of Achievement Interview
- Transcript of LKL 70th Birthday show
- The San Francisco Chronicle, July 28, 1986, King: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Past Larry King's monstrous success follows a string of Miami vices
- Criminal Court of Record, Dade County, The State of Florida vs. Larry King; Case No. 71-10512
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