Larry King, the award-winning TV and radio host, died Saturday morning, January 23, at the age of 87, per a statement posted to his Twitter account. King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, the statement said. No cause of death was given, but King had been hospitalized since December with COVID-19, according to CNN.
“With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host, and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles,” King’s official Twitter announced Saturday, January 23.
King was a nationally syndicated radio host, and he he was a prominent nightly host on CNN from 1985 through 2010. Over the years, King conducted various celebrity interviews, political debates and discussions. In total, he had an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews, per the Associated Press.
“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster,” the statement on his Twitter page continued. “Additionally, while it was his name appearing in the shows’ titles, Larry always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of his programs, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and audience. Whether he was interviewing a U.S. president, foreign leader, celebrity, scandal-ridden personage, or an everyman, Larry liked to ask short, direct, and uncomplicated questions. He believed concise questions usually provided the best answers, and he was not wrong in that belief.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. King Battled Cancer
No cause of death has been given yet, but King suffered from various ailments, including lung cancer. King revealed he was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer in September 2017, per Extra. “The reason I go public with it is to tell people, ‘Get a chest X-ray,’” he said. “If I had not had the chest X-ray, it would have progressed.”
The “spot” found in his X-ray was malignant. “On July 17, I had the surgery here at Cedars,” King said. “They took it out. It was malignant. They were going to take it out if it was malignant or benign. They tested it. They said, ‘You are fine.’ It was stage 1.”
2. King Suffered From Type 2 Diabetes
King was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1995, according to Diabetes.co.uk. King discussed his lifestyle balance with the disease with the LA Times in 2015, saying, “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.”
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar, or glucose, according to the Mayo Clinic. With Type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it resists insulin.
3. King Had Heart Issues
King previously had a three-packs-a-day cigarette habit that led to a major heart attack in 1987. Following the heart attack, King underwent a successful quintuple-bypass surgery. Following his heart surgeries, King wrote two books about the experience: Mr. King, You’re Having a Heart Attack: How a Heart Attack and Bypass Surgery Changed My Life (1989) and Taking On Heart Disease: Famous Personalities Recall How They Triumphed Over the Nation’s #1 Killer and How You Can, Too (2004).
King also founded the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which paid for life-saving cardiac procedures for people who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
“I’ve had the heart attack and heart surgery, I defeated prostate cancer, have Type 2 diabetes but I remain in good health,” King told the LA Times in 2015. “I follow my doctor’s wishes, I take my prescription drugs, I take a lot of vitamins. … Also, even at my advanced age, having two teenage boys keeps me young. … I got a lot of things going for me. I got no complaints.”
4. King Had Five Kids
King had five children, but he leaves only three of them behind. Two of his kids, Andy and Chaia King, died within weeks of each other in 2020, according to USA Today. Andy, 65, died “unexpectedly of a heart attack on July 28th,” and Chaia, 51, “passed on August 20, only a short time after having been diagnosed with lung cancer,” King shared via Instagram.
King had his oldest and first son, 59-year-old Larry Jr., with his second wife, Annette Kaye. King also had sons Chance, 21, and Cannon, 20, with actress Shawn King, from whom he filed for divorce last year after 22 years of marriage.
5. King Was Married Eight Times
King was married eight times to seven different women. King married his high school sweetheart Freda Miller when he was 18 years old. The two were married from 1952 to 1953, but the marriage was annulled by their disapproving parents, per People. King eventually moved on from Miller and married Annette Kaye in 1961, and they welcomed his first son, Larry Jr., in 1961. The marriage lasted less than one year, per People.
The same year he separated from Kaye, King married Alene Akins. Akins was a former Playboy Bunny, and King adopted Akins’ son, Andy, after they married. The couple divorced in 1963. King was then married to Mickey Sutphin from 1964 to 1967.
King eventually made his way back to Akins, and the two remarried from 1968 to 1971. During their second marriage, the two gave birth to their daughter, Chaia. Akins died in 2017, per USA Today.
King married Sharon Lepore in 1976 and stayed married to the production assistant until 1983, per People. After, he met Julie Alexander, and the two married in 1989, making her his sixth wife. The marriage didn’t last, and they got divorced in 1992.
King married his seventh and final wife, Shawn Southwick, in 1997. The couple shares two sons together, Chance and Cannon. King filed for divorce in 2019, citing irreconcilable differences, People reported.