“Good evening and welcome to the last ‘Larry King Live,'” the 77-year-old broadcast icon said at the outset of his hour-long swan song. “It’s hard to say that. I knew this day was coming. These words are not easy to say.”
Larry King has known for his non-confrontational style for 25 years. He launched when CNN was five years old.
King never prepared for interviews, and it showed in 2007 when he managed to rankle unflappable comedian Jerry Seinfeld by suggesting that his top-rated sitcom had been canceled. On another occasion, he mistook former Beatle Ringo Starr for his late bandmate George Harrison.
President Barack Obama called King “one of the giants of broadcasting.” Outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared “Larry King Day.”
King announced his retirement in June, saying he wanted to spend more time with his seventh wife, Shawn, and their two young sons.
Perhaps the most intriguing guests were the show’s last ones: King’s wife and their sons, Chance, 11, and Cannon, 10. The boys fidgeted as CNN anchor Anderson Cooper recalled how both he and King had lost their fathers at an early age. Cannon restored some levity by mimicking his father angrily saying, “Get in the car!” and “Stop doing your makeup!”
As the hour wound down, King sat alone in the studio. Staring into the camera, he struggled to hold back tears as he signed off with: “Instead of ‘goodbye’, how about ‘so long’?”