American talk show legend Larry King has died aged 87.
He passed away this morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles after a battle with coronavirus
A statement posted online by his Ora Media company confirmed the sad news.
It read: “With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the sad death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King.
“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s may thousands of interviews, awards and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.
“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, uncomplicated questions.
“He believed concise questions usually provided the best answers, and he was not wrong in that belief…
“Ora Media sends our condolences to his surviving children Larry, Jr, Chance, Cannon and the entire King family.
“Funeral services and a memorial service will be announced later in co-ordination with the King family, who ask for privacy at this time.”
King was admitted to hospital in Los Angeles In January after contracting Covid-19.
His death comes after years of health problems that plagued the star over the years including battles with lung and prostate cancer.
He also survived a heart attack in 1987 and a near-fatal stroke in 2019, that had left him in a coma for weeks.
King was born Lawrence Zeiger in Brooklyn, New York and began his career as a journalist after moving to Florida.
He started off in radio, landing his first on air presenting gig in 1957 and going on to adopt his new name of Larry King on the advice of his station manager.
He legally changed his name two years later.
After spending years naming a name for himself in radio, he moved into TV in 1960 hosting a local news show called Miami Undercover and got the chance to work with comedian Jackie Gleason who became a mentor to the young reporter.
His career suffered a blip in 1971 when he was arrested after being accused of riping off a business associate. He lost his radio and TV job and ended up working as a racing announcer.
King pleaded no contest to one count of passing a bad cheque and managed to get back into TV four years later and by 1978 he’d landed his own national radio show.
During his years hosting his nightly programme for Mutual Broadcasting System, King interviewed guests and taking phone calls from listeners in a format that would become his trademark.
The Larry King Show ran from 1978 until 1994, winning King a coveted Peabody Award in 1982.
He kept the radio show going while also working in TV, starting Larry King Live on CNN in 1985 which propelled him to a new level of fame.
The show covered a broad range of topics from current affairs to wacky conspiracy theorists and celebrity guests and became a US TV staple.
King continued hosting the show for 25 years until he stepped down in 2010 and handed over to Piers Morgan who took over from him.
He signed off his final show, saying: “I don’t know what to say except to you, my audience, thank you. And instead of goodbye, how about so long.”
The telly veteran continued making appearances for CNN in later years, and also hosting web series Larry King Now, a politics show, Politicking with Larry King.
In his personal life, King was married eight times, to seven women- marrying and divorcing former Playboy bunny Alene Akins twice during their rocky on/off romance.
His final marriage was to seventh wife Shawn Southwick in 1997, with the pair tying the knot in a Los Angeles hospital shortly before the telly star was due to undergo heart surgery.
Their relationship collapsed in 2010 and they reconciled but filed for divorce again in 2019.
Over the years King became a dad to five children and welcomed nine grandchildren, as well as four great-grandchildren.
He suffered a terrible tragedy last year when two of his children, daugther Chaia King and son Andy King, both died within three weeks of each other unexpectedly over the summer.
Chaia died after a battle with lung cancer and Andy was struck down by a heart attack.