Larry King, Iconic Media Personality, Dead at 87

Larry King, the famed former CNN broadcaster who was a mainstay in American homes for more than 50 years, died on Saturday morning at 87. King's death, which was announced via Ora Media on Twitter, followed reports he was hospitalized with COVID-19 in Los Angeles on Jan. 2. However, no cause of death was given in the death announcement. King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

"For 63 years, across the many platforms of radio, television and digital media Larry's many thousands of interviews, awards and acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster," the statement from King-founded Ora Media read. The company went on to laud his work on CNN's Larry King Live and his digital shows Larry King Now and Politicking with Larry King. The company also asked for privacy for his family and assured friends and fans that funeral and memorial service details would come soon.

King's death also came less than two years after he reportedly suffered a heart attack in April 2019. Sources told the site he started having trouble breathing months ago and was scheduled to check into a hospital that day for an angiogram. While he was getting ready to head to the hospital, he went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics were called and he was rushed to the hospital, where he had an angioplasty. TMZ reported his doctors opened up a collapsed artery to insert several stents. After TMZ's initial report, King's spokesperson told The Wrap he did not suffer a heart attack.

“On the morning of Thursday, April 23, Larry King was scheduled for an angioplasty. Before his scheduled procedure, he experienced angina and went to the hospital early to be examined,” the spokesperson said. “His doctor successfully performed the angioplasty and inserted stents to reopen the previous bypass from 1987. He has been recuperating in the hospital and is scheduled to be released soon. His doctors expect him to make a full recovery.” King was seeing doctors occasionally over the previous six months for breathing problems, but doctors did not diagnose the severity of the issue.

In November 2019, King revealed he secretly suffered a stroke in March 2019 and almost died. "I had what they call a slight stroke in March. Everything is back to normal, except my left foot. I can't walk on my left foot, so I'm walking with a walker," he told Page Six at the time. "It's making me feel old."

King has long been open about his heart struggles after he suffered a major heart attack in 1987 and needed quintuple-bypass surgery. He wrote two books about heart disease and established the Larry King Cardiac Foundation. In his 2004 book, Taking on Heart Disease, King urged his fans to take all warning signs seriously and get checked out by a doctor.

"I did everything wrong. I smoked three packs a day," King explained in a 2015 interview with The Los Angeles Times. "But I never thought it would happen to me. When I had the heart attack that scared me to death, I was 53 years old. I never smoked a cigarette again. I changed a lot of my habits. I lost a lot of weight. I've kept the weight down."

He later explained his daily routine, adding, "I have one-half of a scooped-out bagel … and some lox every morning. Low-fat cream cheese, and very little of it. And Honey Nut Cheerios with a ton of blueberries. Rarely do I have lunch. If I do have lunch, it's a light salad. For dinner, I have fish or a steak. I will have vegetables.... I still have the cravings, and sometimes, you know what I do? There'll be a birthday cake. I'll take a tiny little piece just to get a little sweetness in my mouth but I resist having more because I really think about living. I'm not ready to go yet. I'm too curious."

King also battled other health scares over the years, including prostate cancer, lung cancer and Type 2 diabetes. However, he never let his health issues get in the way of his work. Even after retiring from CNN in 2010, he co-founded Ora TV and hosted shows for Hulu. In 2017, King said he was diagnosed with lung cancer, and even that wouldn't stop him from hosting shows. “I’ll die on the air probably," he told Extra.

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King was born in Brooklyn on Nov. 19, 1933, and began his broadcasting career on Miami radio in the late 1950s. As his radio career began to get wider attention, he joined CNN in 1985 to host Larry King Live, which continued until 2010.

King was married eight times to seven different women and is survived by three children, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. He was married to Freda Miller in 1952, and their marriage was annulled a year later. He was also married to Annette Kaye (1961); Alene Akins (1961-1963); Mickey Sutphin (1963-1967); Akins again (1967-1972); Sharon Lepore (1976-1983); and Julie Alexander (1989-1992). King and Shawn Southwick married in 1997 and divorced in August 2019. King's children with Akins, Andy and Chaia, died within weeks of each other in August 2020.