tv CNN Newsroom With Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul CNN January 23, 2021 7:00am-8:00am PST
right outcome. here is some of what you thought during the course of the program. what do we have? smerconish, if there's a significant yes vote to your question today, it really speaks to how intolerant we've become. there wasn't, and i think that's good news. thanks for watching. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. good morning. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. we have very sad breaking news to bring you, the broadcasting legend, larry king, has died at the age of 87. he was the king of talk and the face of cnn for some 25 years. larry king became an icon through interviews, speaking with actors and sports figures, presidents and heads of state. a source close to his family said he had been hospitalized with covid-19 in early january. throughout his life he battled a number of major health problems,
suffering several heart attacks and a lung cancer diagnosis in 1987, he underwent bypass surgery. he died this morning in los angeles. let's start with more on the life and legacy of the broadcasting legend, and my good friend, larry king. >> he was the king of talk. >> larry was the face of cnn. >> from presidents, to professional athletes. >> do you still face racism when you play? >> music royalty to actual royalty, movie stars to murderers. heads of state to captains of industry. >> is that a logical expansion bill for microsoft? >> no one captured pop culture like larry king on his iconic show. >> it was breaking news, it was long profiles, it was presidents. >> it was the most interesting show that we had. >> interesting in part because king landed so many exclusives.
>> deep throat himself finally speaks. >> and was able to get stars to open up. >> a good question can open up doors in my mind that i would never think of discussing with anybody. >> larry king made news, broke news, and broke ground. >> together, for the first time ever on television, jordan hussein and plo chairman yassir arafat talk about peace in the middle east. >> on live tv, anything can happen and on "larry king live", it certainly did. >> good-bye. >> good-bye. >> he got up close and personal on more than 50,000 interviews across a career spanning more than six decades. not bad for a jewish boy from brooklyn, born in 1933. back then, he was lawrence zieger. >> my father died when i was
9 1/2. i dreamed of being on the radio one one day. >> that dream came through in the 1950s, miami, florida, new city, new name, courtesy of his because. >> there was an ad for kings wholesale liquors and he said that's your name, larry king. >> he hosted a show "coast to coast", a national audience got to know king and his knack for lively conversation. >> what you want in an interview is a passion, a sense of humor, ability to explain what you do very well, and a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. >> ted turner came calling in 1985. he needed a new host for his cable news network. >> this is the premiere edition of "larry king live". >> we made cnn because everyone started coming to that show. >> among them, the leaders of
the free world. >> i don't want to dwell on the watergate thing. >> you might well have been re-elected if you didn't pardon richard nixon. >> former cnn white house producer, wendy walker, oversaw king's show for 18 years. >> larry talked to all the presidents and i think they all felt very comfortable talking to him. >> do you still like this job? >> nobody knew if larry was a republican or democrat. he had no agenda. >> one frequent guest even filled in for larry before moving on for other things. >> i'm donald trump, sitting in for larry tonight. >> trump was a great guest because he was a character. but president, i never thought of him as president. >> "larry king live" had an international audience. global leaders knew if they talked to king, they talked to a world. >> who wins? >> i was called a terrorist yesterday, but then i many
people embraced me, including my enemies. >> was there a holocaust? >> you want to impose your viewpoint on me. >> no, i don't. it's a question. i don't normally like to get into arguments. >> i loved having people say that larry asked softball questions because i thought more people would come on. i think it was more that he didn't ask long questions. he asked those short questions so it would be about the guest. >> sometimes it really was about king or really his signature suspenders. he started wearing them in the '80s after he lost weight following heart surgery. >> you wore them in my honor? >> we certainly did. just because you always wear these things. >> sometimes the show focused on more serious subjects. >> welcome to a special edition of "larry king live".
the north american free trade agreement. >> like the historic nafta debate he moderated in 1993. it was larry's most watched show on cnn. >> how do you stop it without nafta? >> i'm listening. i haven't heard the answer, but go ahead. >> that's because you haven't quit talking. >> he clearly won the debate and clinton called me up the day after that and he said, i owe you big time. >> june 1994, another historic tv moment unfolds, while king is on the air. >> police believe that o.j. simpson is in that car. >> the slow-speed chase gave way to the trial of the century and one of the biggest stories of king's career. >> the o.j. simpson story was the first reality tv. >> now, live from los angeles, here is larry king. >> after court wrapped up for the day, key figures in the trial headed to king's show night after night. >> we ended up knowing all the players from johnny cochran. >> a lawyer doesn't have to
believe his client did or didn't do something, correct? >> to marcia clark. >> did you say we are fighting a losing battle here? >> you bet. >> it was such a shocking, amazing story that we covered it from the beginning until the end. >> when it was over, even the man at the center of it all went to king first. >> with us on the phone now is o.j. simpson. >> my friends have told me that you've been fair in hosting your show and bringing the points of view from both sides. >> covering the trial from los angeles affected king's personal life. that's where he met his seventh wife. they were together more than 20 years before filing for divorce in 2019, but his longest relationship was with the microphone. >> i was in love with what i was doing. you know why? it never lets me down. this is my blanket. >> in dark times, viewers turned
to king to help make sense of the world. he said the hardest story he ever covered was 9/11. >> tonight we'll visit ground zero, a place of unspeakable horror and extraordinary heroes. >> king hosted tell-a-thons benefiting victims of disasters. he started his own charity after his first heart attack in the late '80s. the long-time smoker also had diabetes, successfully fought prostate and lounge cancer and underwent quad ruple bypass surgery. he checked back into the hospital for chest pain and circulation issues. in the summer of 2020, he mourned the loss of two children, his son andy to a heart attack, and his daughter kya to lung cancer. after a quarter century at cnn, king decided to hang up his cable news suspenders.
>> welcome to the last "larry king live". it's hard to say that. i knew this day was coming. >> it was 2010 and by then king had set the guinness world record for longest running show with the same host on the same network in the same time slot. >> it was a wonderful ride. best years of my life. >> he was done with cnn, but he wasn't finished. >> in 2012, king returned to the interview chair on the digital streaming network aura tv. >> i haven't changed. >> larry king spent his life asking others about themselves. when the king of talk was asked about himself, he reflected on a broadcasting legacy that entertained, enlightened and endured. >> through his ability, he brought information and entertainment to people in times
of stress, he helped them overcome it. in times of joy, he helped them enjoy it. loved every minute of it. >> truly an amazing, amazing man. i want to bring in wendy walker. wendy is a good friend of mine. she was larry's long-time executive producer of "larry king live", some 18 years. you worked very closely on a day-to-day basis helping to put his show together. it's so sad, my deepest condolences to you. i know you loved larry, we all loved larry so much. tell us what it was like to work with larry all those years. >> first of all, hi, wolf. he also really loved you. he never missed watching you. he would always have a comment. he always had something -- he always had an idea of what you should be doing. anyway, just watching this
tribute that you just did, just makes me realize the one thing he loved was being in front of that camera. i mean, he was a very interesting, you know, man, but that one hour a day, when those lights came on, he was just perfect. he treated every guest the same. it didn't matter if it was a president or, you know, somebody off the street. he never had an agenda. so he really treated them all separately the same. that's why he was as good as he was, because he never worried about, oh, my gosh, i have a president, i have to do something different. that wasn't him at all. he didn't really see the difference. >> he was always so inquisitive, wendy. he wanted to know what was really going on and he would ask short, tight, but substantive questions that the viewers wanted answers to as well.
how did he prepare for those major interviews? >> probably that was the hardest part of our job, was trying to prepare them because he never wanted to be prepared. he really seriously -- one time when f. lee bailey decided to join the dream team for simpson, we got the scoop and he was coming on the air. i said let me just tell you why he decided to do it, and larry put his hands over his ears and he said i don't want to hear. i want to hear it the first time with him. and that's really how he prepared. he was an incredible -- he read all day long and watched news, so he was really informed. but he really just wanted to hear his guest talk and then come up with his questions. and you're right, the two things he always said was, you know, to be a good interviewer would be to listen and to keep your questions really short. it really bugged him when he
would watch somebody with really, really long questions. and any time anybody guest hosted, that's what he would tell them. just listen to the person that you're listening to and don't ask long questions. >> in the 18 years, he was the face of cnn for 25 years, but of the 18 years, wendy, that you worked with him on a day-to-day basis, if you see him change over those 18 years? >> not really. i mean, no, i don't think i -- i mean, that hour, that hour he really didn't change at all. he was the same person when i first walked in up to the last show. >> i was going to say, i remember when he started the show, he was hosting the show from washington, but then he moved out to los angeles. it was always on at 9:00 p.m. eastern, 6:00 p.m. pacific, and he did the show from l.a. and i sensed when he went from
washington to l.a., there was more of an l.a. focus as well. did you notice that? >> well, no, actually, i didn't. we had the signature set in three cities, new york, washington and l.a. and we did that on purpose, because it didn't really matter where he was. it was really all about the guests. but i don't think so. we did everything from -- every time there was breaking news, we would do that. but then back then we also had to come up with celebrity guests and getting the big guest and that would be -- we might have to get on a plane and fly to new york to do it. so it was -- i don't think it was mostly l.a. based. >> but he did a little bit more hollywood stuff when he was out there as well because he was able to get those stars to come on the set and a lot of those stars didn't want to do a remote satellite interview. they wanted to sit there with
larry king personally and talk about what was going on. one thing about larry i remember, he wasn't just a new yorker, in washington or l.a. he would travel around the world for big interviews as well. if there was major international news, he would go to the scene, right? >> oh, absolutely, yes. yes, of course, 9/11 or o.j., that's why we ended up moving out to california. it was because we spent so much time covering the o.j. trial that he actually liked it because, you know, on the east coast the show was over at 10:00 at night and on the west coast it was over at 7:00, so he could have a good evening and then he loved california. so we talked tom johnson into letting us move the show out there. in fact, the only time i ever got in trouble, my 32 years at cnn, was when we were doing the interview with marlon brando and
we were doing at his house, because he was a recluse and that was the only way he would do it. at the end of the show, they had such a good time, they kissed on the set and of course you'll remember that famous kiss. i thought, oh, my god, this is such a tv iconic movement. well, tom, our lovely, loving boss, when we loved so much, tom johnson called me and said why did you let them kiss? and i said, gosh, i said i guess i forgot to tell them if they were having a really good time they shouldn't kiss at the end of the show. >> that was a moment all of us will remember. a rare interview, indeed. it was so powerful. what were some of his most favorite interviews, wendy, in the 18 years you worked with him? >> i think he loved doing -- i mean, he loved interviewing the presidents. that was one of the things that -- i mean, that was something that he always looked forward to.
but he also really -- if i could leave with one thought to everybody about him, is that every interview was the same. that's not -- a lot of people in our business will say, oh, i've got this great big guest. he was just as interested in a person that nobody had heard of than the president. he treated them all the same. so he just lit up that one hour of the day. not that he didn't the other hours, but that was -- he lived, and i think he said that in your tribute, he lived for that hour. he lived for it. >> and i was always so, so proud, wendy, when you and larry would call me and say larry is going to take a few days off, do you mind filling in for larry. it was such an honor to me and i would say to myself, here i am a kid from buffalo, new york, and i'm filling in for larry king.
it was always so thrilling for me to do all of those stories. you guys were really amazing. we miss him already. wendy, thank you so much for everything you've done for cnn and everything you've done with larry. you are a very special person and a good friend, one of the major reasons i'm here at kcnn all these years later is because of wendy, she suggested i move from print to broadcast. thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> as we go to break, here is larry back in 2010, asking then-president barack obama, about who was responsible for the bp oil spill in the gulf of mexico. >> what part of it is your baby? what part of it is the country and not bp? >> well, bp caused this spill. we don't yet know exactly what happened, whether it's a
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this is a king toad. those are poison glands. this came over from south america and we brought it into this country, southern florida. it's causing a lot of deaths with dogs. these are poison glands right back there. >> get it away from me. get it off me! >> it's just a toad. >> it's okay. >> i don't like toads much, i don't like them either. >> you're okay. he didn't bite. >> get it out of here.
>> you were good. that's good tv. >> give me five. >> give me five. >> say good-bye to the toad. >> what a moment that was. i remember, two young boys at the time. the passing of larry king for so many of us hits very close to home. in his 25 years as the host of cnn's "larry king live" he taped more than 6,000 shows, helping put our network on the map. our chief media correspondent brian stelter is joining us right now. this is such a huge loss for our cnn family. >> yes, it absolutely is. i think about larry in his own words, he once said he became everybody's friend just as the demand for non-stop cable news was taking off in the 1980s. and that is a very true statement. larry joined in 1985, ted turner poached him from radio, wanting to have a signature program in
prime-time and then cnn grew in part to king, that program people wanted to watch. this is what jeff zucker said in a statement this morning, saying the scrappy young man from brooklyn had a history-making career spanning radio and television. his curiosity about the world propelled his career in br broadcasting, but it was his generosity of spirit that drew the world to him. we are so proud of his 25 years he spent with cnn, where he truly put the network on the national stage. from our cnn family to larry's, we send our thoughts and prayers and a promise to carry on his curiosity for the world in our work. larry provided a comfortable place for politicians and celebrities. he asked the questions that viewers wanted answered. he always talked about those left and right shout fests on other channels. he said you don't learn anything on those shoews, you're just hearing your own views reinforced. on at least one occasion, wolf,
i think cnn and "larry king live" helped save his life. there was a time when the surgeon general was on the show. he said afterwards, larry, you don't look so good. you need to go to the doctor. it turned out he was having a heart attack and he headed to the hospital. he recovered from so many health challenges in his career and was the better for it. i think it brought him even more of a connection to the audience. sadly, wolf, we know larry had been hospitalized for the past month, at first due to coronavirus, covid-19, we had heard a number of weeks ago that he was on the mend, he was able to leave the icu. we don't have the exact cause of death this morning, but we know he was at cedar sinai when he died this morning. >> i was following with his family all those days over this past month when he was going up and down, but he was really not in very good shape and it was so sad to learn this morning that he had passed away. brian, i know he's a legend and he did so much to help not just
cnn, but to help all of us in terms of broadcast journalism and he was one amazing guy. brian, thank you very much. in his 25 years with cnn, larry taught all of us the art of a really substantive and important interview with an eclectic guest list, ranging from presidents to celebrities to athletes so everyday people, and for years he was an opening act to anderson cooper's show. watch this. >> anderson cooper and i have been meeting via satellite monday through friday for about five years now, all good things come to an end, anderson. i'm sorry you can't be with us tonight. >> larry, i'm not going to talk about what's on my program tonight, which is what i usually do. i just want to use my brief time to say thank you. you've been a friend, a mentor to me all these years that i've been at cnn and i truly cannot imagine this place without you. >> anderson spoke well. anderson is joining us right now as we continue our tribute to a great man, larry king. so when you heard the sad news,
anderson, what did you think? >> you know, just what a life. you know, he was really unlike anybody else. there really only was one larry king. you talked about his generosity and i think that's something that -- his generosity to people, certainly to me when i first came to cnn, you know, he reached out and he was -- you know, he could talk to anybody and he genuinely was interested in other people. you know, he grow up wanting to be in radio from a young age, got his break. he was doing odd jobs at a radio station and the announcer, i guess, didn't show up one day and larry filled in and took it from there. but i think as brian was saying, he could talk to anybody and people would tune in because you
never knew what was going to be on. it could be a politician in a serious discussion, it could be some celebrity promoting something, there were -- sometimes there were folks, you know, like psychics and ufo believers. it was always kind of an interesting discussion. larry famously would not read the books of people he was interviewing. i'm not sure exactly why that was, but he would always say that he wanted to ask the questions that the audience would ask if they hadn't read the book. but i think people -- you know, that might upset some authors, authors like you to read their books. i went for both of my books, larry was kind enough to have me on. but he was just curious and he could have a conversation with anybody. i remember seeing him, you know, in the diner in l.a. where he
would have breakfast every day with his old friends from childhood and you would go in and you would sit down with him and his friends and it was -- there could have been a microphone there, there was really no difference between the larry on and off air. the last time i saw him was a short time before the pandemic, i saw him at a restaurant in los angeles and we talked. he was in a wheelchair at the time. he had had a stroke. it was sad to see him like that. but he was with one of his old childhood friends from brooklyn and larry was always surrounded by friends and by family. i think one of the things that he and i early on discussed and bonded on was that we both lost our dads when we were kids. larry's dad died of a heart attack at age 44. his dad and mom were orthodox
jews growing up in brooklyn, i think his mom had come from ukraine. and, you know, that early loss really affected larry deeply, obviously, and when a child loses their parent it changes the trajectory of their life. and it certainly did that for larry, and i know one of his -- you know, certainly it made his childhood really tough. he kind of lost interest in school after that. and he needed to -- you know, after high school needed to work to help support his mom and his family in the absence of their dad. and i remember talking to larry about this, you know, what he really wanted all of those years when he was at cnn was to -- especially after he had had his two sons late in life, he wanted to make it through to see them into adulthood and i think that was something that certainly
resonates with me now as a parent, who wants to be there to see my son get to adulthood. and i think that is one of the victories of larry's life, the fact that he overcame numerous, decades' long issues, a heart attack, surgery several times, you know, his last wife he actually married in a hospital room before having, i think, it was bypass surgery. larry was a romantic, i think, in kind of an old-school way and i think he loved being in love, he loved women and certainly was married numerous times throughout his life. but he had a lot of struggles and lost two of his adult children, just to covid earlier this year, which is obviously
something devastating for any parent of any age. so he went through so much in his life, but he kept on trucking. he kept on showing up. he kept on having the conversations and never lost his interest in talking to other people and just -- it could be a person on the street, it could be behind the microphone, anywhere he went. and i think that's what people appreciated about him. he was who he was and you knew, watching him, that that's who larry king was. >> he was so special to all of us and i totally relate, anderson, to what you're saying, he was a mentor to you. his show was on from 9:00 to 10:00 at night and then you came on in those days at 10:00 and i'm sure he was always very kind and generous and helpful to you. he certainly was to me as well. talk a little bit about that personal side of larry that helped you become the broadcast journalist that you are today. >> you know, i think it was both by his example and also by just
conversations with him that he was so generous and helpful. you know, he would give you feedback about stuff and if he saw something you had done that he liked, he would call you up and say, you know, that was a great interview, i really liked it. and it was always one of those thrills to have larry king giving you advice. i know he had this relationship with a lot of broadcasters, he was close with ryan seacrest and there were so many journalists and broadcasters in his orbit who enjoyed just kind of hearing his stories. he was such a storyteller, which in his early days of radio he was doing sports, nationwide radio program that ultimately led to him getting to cnn. but he would have to be on radio for hours and hours and hours
and he would tell stories about his childhood. i think it was -- you know, i remember him telling me, he started doing a radio show in a delicatessen, i think it was, or like a diner in miami, and he would just interview whoever happened to come into the diner. and i think his first big celebrity interview was bobby darrin. he had a show in miami that night and larry interviewed bobby darrin in this -- i can't remember the name of the deli, but it's an iconic deli or restaurant. so i think he was just a generous person and he cared about other people. i remember going to some events for his foundation. he had a foundation which would help people who couldn't afford heart surgery, who needed it. he would help them.
he was just -- he was such an iconic character with the suspenders, just the way he talked. i did an interview with michael j. fox recently and one of the things he and i were talking about off camera was his appearances on larry king over the years. it was kind of a right -- you know, there were years and years where that was the place you would go. if you had a book out, if you had a movie out, if you were a politician and you wanted to get to a wide audience, larry certainly wasn't -- as brian kind of indicated, it wasn't an interview where you were going to get challenged on the minutia of facts and positions. it was a place where you could voice your opinion and you could give your side of a story. larry would challenge, but it wasn't -- it was a place that was comfortable for people to go to.
it was a place where larry wanted to have a conversation. you don't see that a lot in tv. you don't hear that much these days. people are attacking and challenging and yelling and arguing positions. larry listened and he always -- there wasn't any moment where he couldn't think of what to say next. he always would just come right back with another question and it was just an honor to have him in my life as a friend, but also as an example and as somebody to learn from and watch. >> he was, in a word, and i'm sure you'll agree with me, anderson, because you knew him well, i knew him well, he was a real minch. he did the right thing. he may not have read the books before an author came on the show, but he would ask all the right questions. and every author, correct me if
i'm wrong, every major author wanted to come on "larry king live", because they knew once he was promoting the book it would become a bestseller. that was one of the reasons they wanted to come on the show. >> when you're writing a book and you're trying to promote it, you're told there's a couple of venues to go on that sell books, and it changes over time, but larry sold books. you could go on larry king and talk about your book, for an author to be able to be on for an hour talking about their book is a huge thing. and larry would do that. i wrote a book in 2005, my first book. he didn't have to put me on. and he was incredibly generous with his time and his interest. you could always tell that -- and i say this lovingly, you could always tell larry hadn't read the book because as an author you would go and usually at some point in the interview he would be like it's a great
cover or it's a great title, which is sort of funny, because obviously that's really all he had seen of the book. and because he hadn't read it, you know, it was sometimes frustrating because when you've written a book you want the person to have read it and ask nuanced questions. but larry's position was, look, the audience hasn't read the book. i want to ask questions that the audience would ask. and that's what he did. and it was interesting, because you would get -- he would be able to kind of elicit things that wouldn't ordinarily come out in an interview. and he would ask questions that, you know, were in some ways, some of them were tough because they were -- some of them could seem almost abrasive because he hadn't read nuanced things, he would ask a question that was sometimes a difficult question to answer. but it always came from a good place with larry. you never felt -- even when he disagreed with somebody, he
wasn't rude to them. you know, he would probe around their arguments, and challenge them, but he genuinely was kind of open to different ways of seeing things and genuinely curious. >> he was so generous, indeed, i wrote two books. he invited me on for both of those books. put me on for the hour. the books sold, my publishers were thrilled and it was so special. and as you can relate and i can relate, so many other authors can relate to larry king. anderson, thank you so much. i know this is a sad day for you. very sad day for me. larry king, sadly, has passed away. >> you know, it's a sad day without a doubt, but also, what a life and for a man who lost his dad at a young age and, you know, so many times came close to dying, that he made it into -- that he made it this far and was able to see his two
kids, his beloved chance and cannon grow up and become adults, i mean that was so important to larry. and i just think that's such a victory and something to celebrate amongst all the other things that we celebrate in larry's life. >> we do want to celebrate his life and it is amazing that he has lived to the age of 87 years old, given all the ailments that he's had over the years. a really special, special, wonderful man. anderson, once again, thank you very much. larry king sat down with a lot of presidents over the years, but he also sat down with president richard nixon nearly 30 years ago. here's what he learned about whether nixon had ever even been to the watergate hotel himself. watch this. >> mr. president, finally, is it hard to come back to this city? is it hard to drive by the watergate? >> well, i've never been in the watergate. >> never been there, even in the restaurant? >> no, other people were in there, unfortunately.
>> was it hard for you? >> no, i -- i don't live in the past. as a matter of fact, one of the problems older people have is when you get together, they always want to reminisce about the past. i don't do that. i like to think about the future. (coughing) hi susan! honey? yeah? i respect that. but that cough looks pretty bad... try this new robitussin honey severe. the real honey you love... plus, the powerful cough relief you need. mind if i root through your trash? new robitussin honey severe. strong relief for your severe symptoms.
slowly and steadily hank aaron built a remarkable career. he broke babe ruth's record. he's an executive with the atlanta braves and has been for a long time. he has a new autobiography out. i remember you telling me you did your talking about your bat. you were still playing and had just retired. why didn't you talk about this more then? >> i did, larry, i did. i think -- i don't think that it was talked about.
>> too legends lost in two days, larry king interviewing the then home run king hank aaron who died, sadly, just yesterday. larry king's love of baseball was no secret, especially his love of the los angeles dodgers. in 2004 he even wrote a book entitled "why i love baseball". let's discuss this and more with a veteran sportscaster, the voice of the los angeles. charly steiner. you and larry became close friends over the years in l.a. you were part of the club and used to have breakfast with him at the deli in beverly hills. give us your thoughts about this giant of a broadcaster. >> you know, when you think about larry, he wasn't a talk show host. you hit it on the head, wolf. he was a broadcaster. he had an innate ability to connect with millions of viewers around the world. we first met in the late '70s,
early '80s. i was working at a local station in new york. he was on mutual doing the all-night show. we were his number one affiliate. he would come up often just to say hello to his number one affiliate. we struck up a friendship. fast forward many years later, i came out to los angeles about 16, 17 years ago, we had maintained a friendship. once we got out here, we became dinner partners, lunch partners. the thing about larry that may set him apart from all of the others, he was naturally curious about everything. if you were five minutes late for lunch or dinner, why, where have you been? there was some traffic. what was going on there? so there was always a follow-up question to everything. he was the best dinner partner god ever invented.
we would have dinner three or four times a month during the offseason we would have breakfast every saturday. he was naturally curious. he was a street smart kid from brooklyn who never really grew up in that regard, but in terms of an inquisitive mind, it was just remarkable. he always allowed his guests to be the stars of the interview. he would just do one-word questions, why, how, what are you thinking. and he was able to elicit responses from all walks of life. one example about larry, and i will name drop hideously in this story, maybe ten years ago or so i was invited to dinner at his
house. he said, well, we're going to have some interesting guests there. it was a dinner party. that included warren beatty, al pacino, harrison ford, paul anca and carlos slim and me. and i still to this day have no idea why i was there. at the beginning of dinner, after a little cocktail hour, he's sitting at the head of the table like the king on his thrown and he said i want you to think about this and this is what we're going to talk about after dinner. all of you people here are successful. you could have retired years ago, but you choose to work. why? and it was one of those -- that was larry king and for the next hour or two after dinner was complete, we all shared our stories as to why we were continuing to work. the second story about larry that immediately comes to mind, he was going to have a prime-time sunday night special, i don't know, whatever it was 15
years ago or so, that got preempted. he had invited a bunch of friends over to watch together and i believe it was going to be 6:00 pacific, 9:00 eastern time. and he would be pre-emtpted and he didn't know why. then obama comes out and announces that osama bin ladin had been killed and larry said i can't believe i've been pre-empted. i said you were pre-empted by president obama and osama bin ladinen, if you were going to get bumped, you could get bumped. he was a dodgers fan and we would fuss and fight about what the dodgers were doing. he was terribly frustrated year after year when the dodgers would win the division, fall short in the world series.
but this year he got to see the dodgers win the world series. made him enormously happy. and, finally, you know, i was inducted into the radio hall of fame about ten years ago or so, and it was larry who inducted me. so as i'm thinking about all of this and talking with you all, it's now hitting me even more. we were friends and you tend to forget your friends are like big deals. larry was a big deal, and in terms of broadcasters, maybe among the top half dozen who ever lived, his ability to communicate, the audience that he had. this is a big loss personally for our industry and really for americana. he was an icon. >> we can celebrate his life
now, charley. give us a thought why he loved baseball so much. you've been a sportscaster for so many years, you're the voice of the dodgers and specifically the los angeles dodgers. was it because he grew up in brooklyn when they were the brooklyn dodgers? >> absolutely. one of the things about larry above and beyond baseball and the dodgers, he was fiercely loyal. if he hooked into somebody or something, he was there for the rest of your life, the rest of his life. he saw jackie robinson play his first game in brooklyn, and so he was forever a dodger fan. and then when i came out and we re-ignited our friendship in 2004, we were on the phone pretty near every day and he would complain about this move or that and how frustrating it was that dodgers did or didn't
get a free agent. he would always say i just want to see them win the world series one more time before i die. he did. and, again, the three of us, curt rappaport, curt, larry and me, we would have dinner all the time and we would have lunch all the time. like i say, he was the best dinner partner maybe ever on the face of the planet because he knew everybody and everything and it was always fascinating conversation. >> it certainly was. and i was blessed to have dinner with him on many occasions and to enjoy his friendship, but he would always instill in all of us a sense of what was going on out there, and especially in areas that maybe you and i didn't even know that much about, but he knew a lot about a lot of different things. >> he knew everybody and he knew everything about everybody.
and, again, when he did his show, the radio on mutual and then of course on cnn, he never saw himself as the focus or the star. he was the questioner. and then he would allow those who responded as much room as they wanted or needed, whether it was frank sinatra, marlon brando, or whoever. it was endlessly fascinating because he was endlessly curious. he was just -- he was an every man who grew up on the streets of brooklyn, went down to miami and then came to los angeles, washington. he was internationally known. and, again, he was never the star of his own show. it was everybody who came on to be questioned where he basically gave the attention to them. >> charley steiner, thank you so
much for sharing thoughts about your good friend, my good friend, larry king. a very, very special person. charley steiner is the voice of the los angeles dodgers and an excellent journalist on his own right. thank you very much. let's continue the conversation with the coauthor of the autobiography of larry king. he worked with larry for a long, long time. peter, thank you so much for joining us. what was it like writing a book together with larry? >> well, it was a lot of fun. i can tell you that. just before i went down to visit with him to work with him, his, daughter, chaia had left and he was looking for a hotel. he said come stay in chaia's room and you can work with me in the house. so we would get up in the morning, have breakfast together and i would get out my cassette recorder and start going. and larry was such a relaxed
guy, as your previous guests have pointed out, such a genuine kind of person, that he would just free associate. one day we went driving and we did a lot of interviewing in the car because he loved to drive. and it was raining out and he said this remind me of the time that i went to merrinac with gayle. and gail said we were driving past the hour where i groew up, so i would love to see it. so larry drives there and she says i can't go up and knock on the door. larry said i'm a nice, jewish guy from brooklyn, i'm going to go knock on the door. sure enough, the guy opens the door and larry explains the situation and he says to him, you've got a voice that's a double for larry king.
he said, i am larry king. the guy went crazy. he said i was just listening to you on the radio an hour ago. because larry, he would do his cnn show, but then he would do the radio for four hours or five hours into the morning. he just had a huge amount of fun with it. and i think part of his genuineness was that he looked at other kind of interviewers who were more perfunctory in how they went about their job. he told me a story about being interviewed on one of these morning shows like "good morning baltimore" and he could see that the anchors had their list of questions. so he just decided to go off script and one of the actors said how do you get all these great guests, i would really like to know. and larry said i have a special arrangement with the cia, they give me -- i give them information that i pick up through my contacts and they help me get really great guests
on my show. and the interviewer just went on to the next question, didn't even pick up that larry was hazing them. so that was the kind of thing he loved. he loved the sincerity and j genuineness in other people, too. he told me another story about being -- about interviewing anthony quinn when quinn had been working with olivier on broadway in the show "beckett". while the action is going on, quinn feels a tug on his sleeve of his robe because he's playing the king, and he's whispering in his ear, lawrence olivier is whispering in his ear, where can i get a decent beer in new york, and then they go right back to playing the scene. so that was the kind of thing that larry lived for and that's why he was such a good
interviewer. he genuinely didn't worry about reading the book or having the information on hand. i spent some time on the set at cnn and his producer would bring in all this information typed up on blue index cards and larry would put them down. i don't think he ever actually read them. he didn't need to. he said he liked to go off his feeling of the moment, his curiosity. so in that sense he was very zen for a guy who you wouldn't think of as particularly spiritual. but he operated being in the moment and responding to the moment, which is something that, you know, most of us have difficulty doing. larry did it naturally with great sensitivity, too. >> yes, he did. he was so, so special. peter, thank you so much for your thoughts on this day. and to our viewers, an important
note, cnn will be honoring larry king with a special later tonight, 9:00 p.m. eastern, larry's old time slot, the king of talk, remembering larry king airs later tonight here on cnn. let me just leave you with these thoughts. larry king was a good friend, a really great guy. our deepest, deepest condolences to his loving family and friends. may he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing. our coverage continues right now with fredricka whitfield. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. hello, everyone. thank you so much for joining me. i'm fredricka whitfield. a dire situation in the united states as coronavirus is breaking new records. first, tragic news on the loss of a legendry broadcaster and