In a 1988 interview with Frank Sinatra, who famously didn’t do interviews, there comes a point where Larry King asks a simple question as the iconic singer talks about nearly dying due to a medical complication.
“Were you scared?” King asks. Sinatra responds that doctors “just cleaned me all out.” King goes back. “Were you frightened?” he asks. Sinatra looks him square in the eyes and says “Oh, of course, I was frightened” before going on to tell King about the seven and a half hour operation to put the Chairman of the Board back together. It was riveting television for 1988 and it was Sinatra’s final major interview. He died in 1998.
King, who passed away Saturday morning at 87, considered it one of the greatest interviews he ever sat down for. The legendary interviewer is credited with 50,000 sitdowns with a variety of famous people over the years with 6,000 taped episodes of “Larry King Live” for CNN before retiring to do his own thing in 2010. The legend goes that Lawrence Harvey Zeiger was sitting down for his first shift at a Miami radio station when the GM decided Zeiger was too ethnic and asked Larry to pick a radio last name. His choice: King after a King’s Wholesale Liquor ad. The rest is history.
• Color commentator for Miami Dolphins games during 1970 and 1971 seasons.
• Dismissed as the team’s color commentator on December 20, 1971 when he was arrested for grand larceny.
• Went coast-to-coast as a nightly broadcaster in 1978 with a show that ran from midnight to 5:30 a.m. The first 90 minutes were dedicated to interviewing a guest. Callers were allowed 90 minutes to ask questions. Then at 3 a.m. Larry opened the phone lines for random questions. That might sound very similar to what you remember from “Larry King Live.”
• Larry joins CNN in 1985 and doesn’t leave until 2010.
• Eight marriages to seven women. The first marriage came at 19, lasted a year. In 1961, he married Playboy Bunny Alene Akins only to get divorced a year later, but they ended up getting remarried in 1969 only to divorce in 1972. There was also a marriage to businesswoman Julie Alexander. Larry proposed on their first date.
The Jerry Seinfeld Interview: