If you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work. On Friday, broadcasting legend Larry King confessed to John Fugelsang, “The last time I worked was, I would say, February 1957.”
Wearing his signature suspenders, statement hot pink and dark gray argyle socks and a cheeky baseball tie to celebrate the beginning of the Dodgers season, King seemed at ease in his hometown of New York City.
King’s 60-year career has allowed him to interview actual kings and world leaders, A-list actors, musicians and other notable celebrities. Fellow New Yorker Donald Trump was among those he interviewed and over the years, the two men developed a personal friendship, attending the Super Bowl together and dining out countless times during their decades-long friendship. Trump even took King’s wife out to dinner in New York City while the broadcaster was in the hospital.
But, King admits, “The Donald that’s president, I don’t know.”
“Hopefully, he’ll change. He’s not what they make, but I’ve got to admit that so far, this is one of the most ridiculous presidencies I’ve ever seen.”
And King has seen plenty. He is celebrating 60 years of broadcasting this year, and subsequently, 60 years of being Larry King.
The journalist left Brooklyn in his 20s as Larry Zeigler and took the train to Miami with just $11 in his pocket. He had practiced his broadcasting skills ever since he was a child and wanted to try his luck in the business.
The cultural differences were more extreme than he had expected: “The first thing I saw were water fountains and one said colored and one said white. And I’d never seen that, not in Brooklyn. I couldn’t believe it. So, I drank out of the colored fountain. It was cold, good water.”
And then, just as he was about to take to the airwaves for the very first time, King’s Miami station manager told the Jewish kid from Brooklyn that he needed to change his last name. “He said, ‘You can’t use Larry Zeiger, it’s too ethnic and people won’t know how to spell it. You need another name.'”
King continued, “He had the Miami Herald open… and it was an ad for King’s Wholesale Liquors. And he said, ‘How about Larry King?’ I’m glad he didn’t say ‘How about Larry Liquor?'”
Clearly, things change in 60 years. “They use your name [now]; they’ll use anything,” he joked to Fugelsang.
On that first day of broadcasting, his first day as Larry King, his on-air authenticity inspired a broadcasting motto he has followed for the rest of his life: “There ain’t no secret, just be yourself.”
And that’s the reason King says for the past 60 years he’s “never, ever been nervous.”
Tell Me Everything with John Fugelsang airs weekdays at 2 pm ET on SiriusXM Insight (Ch. 121).
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