Jan 23, 2021
10 things you may not know about Larry King
Raised in Bensonhurst, Larry Zeiger would go on to be one of the most accomplished interviewers in broadcasting
Raised by a single mother on welfare in Bensonhurst after his father died, Larry Zeiger would go on to be one of the most accomplished and admired (and satirized) interviewers in broadcasting.
You know him better as Larry King, the scrappy Brooklyn kid who lived a rags-to-riches tale of epic 20th century proportions. A statement was posted on his Facebook account announcing that he has died, which his son Chance confirmed Saturday morning. He was 87.
Here are a few things that you might not know about the man.
- Before his father Eddie died unexpectedly in 1943, King’s family lived at 208 Howard Ave. in Stuyvesant Heights. A friend of his father’s took 9-year-old King to the movies to break the news to him. The movie was a war flick called “Bataan.”
- After his father’s death King’s family was on welfare for two years. His mother Jennie, previously a housewife, moved King and his younger brother Marty to a three-story walk-up in Bensonhurst and took on seamstress work.
- King never went to college, having lost interest in school after the death of his father. He went straight to work after graduating from Lafayette High School with the goal of going into radio, a childhood obsession.
- His dream became a reality after moving to Miami in 1957. Ten minutes before going on the air for first time, the general manager told him his name was too “ethnic.” King told the Wall Street Journal that the manager saw an ad for King’s Wholesale Liquors in an open newspaper and proposed “Larry King” on the spot.
- King had an unorthodox interview technique. When interviewing authors, for example, he said he would not read their books in advance, so that he would not know more than his audience.
- King was a friend of comedian Jackie Gleason, who he met when Gleason’s national television variety show was being taped in Miami Beach beginning in 1964. King credits that friendship with helping him ultimately succeed in television.
- He nearly lost it all in 1971, during his Miami years, when he was arrested after being accused of grand larceny by a former business partner. Louis Wolfson accused King of pocketing $5,000 meant for New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who was investigating President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Criminal charges were dismissed, but King would lose a column at at the Miami Beach Sun newspaper and, for a short period, his on-air job at WIOD
- According to CNN, where King went to work in 1985, King conducted more than 30,000 interviews in his career.
- King also wrote a regular newspaper column in USA Today for almost 20 years
- King was married eight times, to seven women. His first wife was high-school sweetheart Freda Miller who he married in 1952 at 19.
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