Thursday, 16 December 2010

Larry King signs off after 25 years on CNN... and two presidents drop in to say goodbye


Tribute: President Barack Obama paid tribute to Larry King on his final CNN talkshow

He has interviewed presidents, royalty and stars of all kinds. But after 25 years, tonight saw the final episode of CNN chat show Larry King Live.

The last day of the 77-year-old's show was so heralded, that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed Thursday 'Larry King Day'.

And not one but two presidents - Barack Obama and Bill Clinton - joined those lining up to pay tribute to King, surprising many.

In a message recorded at the White House President Obama told viewers: 'I want to join all of you in congratulating Larry King.'

And another: President Bill Clinton also found the time to appear on the show

Former president Clinton added: 'Thank you for the years, you were great.'

But perhaps the guests who meant the most to King were his family, who joined him to watch as crooner Tony Bennett, 84, sang The Best Is Yet To Come.

Chance, 11, was looking forward to the future, and having his dad at his baseball games: 'I'm really happy because now I can be with you more and probably be with you more.' And Cannon, ten, added: 'It's gonna be great.'

All the family: King, a father of five, was joined by wife Shawn and sons Chace and Cannon

King himself had kept the day low key as he kept to his normal morning routine of breakfast with friends in Beverly Hills, seeming somewhat bemused by the camera crews there to greet him.

And he opened his show in a similar tone, joking: 'I knew this day was coming. These words aren't easy to say... Bill Maher.'

But by the end of the show the tears had come, and King told his audience: 'It's not very often in my life I've been lost for words.

A last goodbye: TV legends Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyers wave goodbye to Larry

'I want to thank everybody associated with this programme, everybody that makes it possible - even the suits at the top.

'When I started out 25 years ago in a little studio in Washington DC I never thought it would last as long as this.'

King promised he wasn't going away for good, and would still appear on CNN from time to time.

'I don't know what to say, so instead I'll say this to you, my audience. Thank you. And instead of goodbye, how about so long.'

Last moments: King and his family joined by Maher, Seacrest and Dr Phil at the end of his final show

Saying goodbye: Talkshow host Dr Phil and American journalist Katie Couric

During the show King had admitted he found it impossible to pick a favourite interview, from amongst the 50,000 plus he has conducted. 'It's hard,' he said.
But one thing he wasn't indecisive about was his trademark braces. 'They won't be going anywhere.'

On a lighter note, Ryan Seacrest reminisced about the day they first met, at an airport in Paris.

Not recognising the American Idol host, King asked him to carry his bags. After his wife pointed out his mistake, King invited Seacrest onto his show.

Also on the show were some of the most powerful women in television.
Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, and Diane Sawyers all appeared.

The Best Is Yet To Come: Crooner Tony Bennett sings to King

Guests: Ryan Seacrest, left, and Bill Maher joined Larry King on his final show
But, while the talkshow host seemed determined to keep things on a relaxed note, others gave the event the solemnity they felt it deserved.

Larry King Day: The presenter goes for breakfast in Beverly Hills on the final day of his CNN show

He came close to divorce earlier this year after his current wife, Shawn Southwick filed papers, alleging King had been embroiled in an affair with her sister, Shannon.

Shannon vehemently denied an affair and Larry and Shawn seemed to work through their troubles, halting divorce proceedings and reconciling.

But, the drama was far from over. Shawn attempted suicide after overdosing on prescription pills.

Famous guests: Frank Sinatra is among the 50,000 interviewees to have starred in the more than 6,000 shows

So man memorable shows: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has appeared on King's show many times

As well as his personal struggles, King has also endured career troubles this past year, fighting against declining ratings and trying to stay relevant in an ever changing and ever more competitive market.

The show currently ranks third in his time slot behind Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, the Associated Press said, adding that Larry King Live drew about 700,000 viewers in 2010, down from an average of 1.64 nightly viewers in 1998, the show's peak year.

Over the years, King has conducted some 50,000 interviews in a broadcasting career where he worked for decades in radio before joining CNN in 1985.

Memorable moments: The late great Marlon Brando gave a bizarre interview with King in 2005 which even resulted in a big kiss on the lips

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed Thursday 'Larry King Day'

According to CNN: 'Larry King broadcast for 20 consecutive nights in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina.'

'His post-disaster programming included interviews with more than 250 guests and a live, three-hour network special', the cable network wrote on its website

King has also been inducted into five of America's leading broadcasting halls of fame and and he has won the George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting.

The city of Los Angeles has named a street after him and a few weeks ago, the city tapped King to be Grand Marshall of the Hollywood Christmas Parade.

King, who has been described as the 'Muhammad Ali of the broadcast interview' is believed to be planning some time off after his departure, but will still host occasional specials for CNN.

British talk-show host and America's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan, 45, will take over King's coveted time slot in January.

Morgan has acknowledged that King's shoes are large ones to fill, quipping that it's like following 'Sinatra in Vegas'.

The former Daily Mirror editor has said that he wants the show to be 'provocative and challenging' and that he wants U.S. President Barack Obama to be one of his first guests.

Presidential: Over the years King has interviewed all the U.S. Presidents as well as many of the most prominent world leaders

Who is Larry King?

Young whipper snapper: King as a fledging broadcaster 21 years ago, at an event in 1989

Born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger on November 19, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, King became a television and radio icon.

King's father, Edward Zeiger, was a restaurant owner and defence plant worker, and his mother Jennie Gitlitz, was a garment worker.

Although King was raised in a strictly religious and observant Jewish household, in later life he turned his back on the faith and became an agnostic.

Zeiger died from heart disease at the young age of 44, forcing King's mother to go on welfare to support her two young sons.

After graduating from High school King started work full time to help support his mother, but he always knew he wanted to pursue a career in showbusiness or journalism in some way.

King began his broadcast career in the 1950s as a local journalist and radio interviewer in Florida.
He rose through the ranks to become a prominent all-night national radio broadcaster starting in 1978, and then, in 1985, began hosting the nightly interview TV program Larry King Live on CNN.

Over his expansive career he has earned an Emmy, two Peabody Awards and ten Cable ACE Awards amongst other accolades.

Larry King Live: Final Show


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