Sunday, January 24, 2021

Suspender Splendor

1933-2021
See? That grizzled, rumpled look didn't come easily. It took a lot of preparation.


Though he was from New York and had the accent to prove it, Larry King's broadcasting career began in South Florida, where he hosted various local radio and TV interview shows. He was helped in this regard by Jackie Gleason, whose 1960s network variety show was taped in Miami Beach, which meant the steady stream of Hollywood stars who came to town to appear on Gleason's show would also drop in for a chat on one of Larry's. He got good ratings doing this, and one would think that would lead to higher earnings. Yet when a shady businessman gave the gravelly-voiced broadcaster some money to get him access to either New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison or Attorney General John Mitchell (stories vary), Larry felt financially constrained enough to pocket the dough instead. To make matters even more confusing, Larry also was said to have passed some bad checks. He was arrested for grand larceny, but the charges were eventually dropped, thanks to some legal maneuvering by his lawyer that ran out the clock on the stature of limitations. Rehired by the television and/or radio station that fired him in the wake of his arrest, Larry's popularity grew. The Mutual Broadcasting Network took notice, and gave him a late night/early morning radio show that also proved very popular. Ted Turner took notice, and put Larry on CNN, where he thrived for 20 years.


I make no great claims for Larry King as an interviewer. He was often tougher on people who called into his radio show then he was with the public figures who were his guests. He at times seemed ill-informed--which he actually took pride in because he felt it gave the audience someone they could identify with. If falling for some celebrity's or politician's line of BS is your idea of being at one with a "journalist", then I guess you found your broadcast soul mate. Just don't write him out a check, as I don't think the statute of limitations has changed much since 1971. All this sounds like I didn't like Larry King very much, doesn't it? In fact, I was a fan. If nothing else, King was fun to listen to and watch, and that is something. King also could be very funny at times, and intentionally at that. More than anything else, King was different. Not different from someone you might find working behind the counter of an adult book store (which reminds me, he was married eight times to seven women) but different from someone you would see on TV. And like Barbara Walters, he could come up with an interesting interview almost in spite of himself. Like this one here:


You wouldn't expect that from Lester Holt, would you? Rest in peace, Larry.

17 comments:

  1. Hi, Kirk!

    I knew you'd be on top of this story, good buddy. Larry King's are large suspenders to fill, and I can't picture Lester Holt doing his schtick. Perhaps Geraldo can jump in and fill the void. He looks good in suspenders, and I'm still in awe over the time he opened Al Capone's secret vault on live TV.

    I wasn't a regular viewer of The Larry King Show, but I enjoyed the times I did watch. He connected and played with his guests and asked questions viewers would ask. Ever since his massive heart attack in early 1987, Larry looked frail - like he could go at any time. I'm a bit surprised he lasted as long as he did and saddened that he fell victim to COVID-19. If he hadn't, who knows... the rambling wreck might have lived to age 100.

    Larry King was a media icon of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, sometimes showing up on episodes of Family Guy. That how you know you made it.

    And so this month our nation remembers a second famous King... and the beat goes on. Thanks for composing this tribute, good buddy Kirk, and have a good week!

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    1. Shady, I remember Sid Caesar was King's guest once. Caesar had just turned 80, whereas King was still in his 60s. Larry asked Sid, "What is it like to be 80?" Larry seemed genuinely curious. Caesar's answer was something along the lines that he had to take a lot of pills. Anyway, Larry King did eventually get to find out what it's like to be 80. Three more years, and he would have know what it's lie to 90!

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    2. "it's lie to 90"

      I believe I meant "it's like to be 90"

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  2. He certainly gave suspenders new life as a fashion statement!

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    1. Debra, once I came up with the suspender/splendor rhyme, I gave serious though to titling this post Suspender in the Grass, but then I would have had to explain the "grass" part.

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  3. When I heard weeks ago he went in with covid related illness I feared that would be it. But I was still shocked when the news broke. I haven't really watched another interviewer or talk show really since he retired. Very well respected by co horts and those he interviewed.

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    1. Larry King, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, I used to watch them all, Maddie. What's odd is that Rose and Smiley, who acted like such gentlemen when the cameras were on, got caught up in the #MeToo scandals, whereas King, who openly flirted on the air with his prettier female guests, wasn't touched by the controversy. I guess you can't judge a book by its brown paper bag.

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  4. Hello Kirk, Although I recognized Larry King, I rarely if ever watched his show, and have no recollection of his personality. Likewise, I have not within memory worn suspenders, but they seem uncomfortable. Maybe that is why he always looks hunched over.
    --Jim

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    1. Jim, I'm not even sure where you buy suspenders. I guess in the same part of the store where you buy belts, but I can't recall ever seeing them there.
      .

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  5. I knew the name, but haven't seen any of his interviews. Shame RIP.

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    1. That you heard of him at all is something, Ananka. I didn't think he was known outside the U.S.

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  6. He was well known here but I don't recall ever seeing him on tv. I suppose I wasn't taking much notice.

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  7. Andrew, if Australian TV is anything like American TV, then you've got network channels, UHF channels, cable channels, digital channels, streaming services, and God knows what else. It's so fragmented, it's a wonder anyone's famous these days.

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  8. Rest In Peace Larry!!

    When I think of suspenders however, I think of Mork and Mindy. And those rainbow ones he always wore.

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    1. He married Mindy, JM, but maybe Mork was an ally. Plus, Robin Williams costarred in The Birdcage, so maybe the actor himself was an ally.

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  9. King married a Utah Mormon, which hits on 2 areas I'm more than familiar with. Shawn Southwick was supposedly SO Mormon that it was the main cause of their divorce. My opinion - If you are SO Mormon, you wouldn't have married an agnostic. You would have wanted a Temple Marriage. This is just a view from a former believer.

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    1. Kass, I didn't know Shawn Southwick was Mormon, but that was the wife he was married to the longest, for 22 years.

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In order to keep the hucksters, humbugs, scoundrels, psychos, morons, and last but not least, artificial intelligentsia at bay, I have decided to turn on comment moderation. On the plus side, I've gotten rid of the word verification.