Larry King: A legend who never forgot his Brooklyn roots

BROWNSVILLE, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Larry King was an American everyman who never forgot his Brooklyn roots.

He was a storyteller and a stylist who got the best out of everyone - from the President of the United States to Frank Sinatra.

"A good question can open up doors in my mind that I wouldn't think of discussing with anybody," Sinatra once said.

There were more than 50,000 guests over the course of half a century.

Larry King spent his childhood in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in November 1933. He was a son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who ran a bar and grill.

A fan of such radio stars as Arthur Godfrey and comedians Bob & Ray, King on reaching adulthood set his sights on a broadcasting career. With word that Miami was a good place to break in, he headed south in 1957 and landed a job sweeping floors at a tiny AM station. When a deejay abruptly quit, King was put on the air - and was handed his new surname by the station manager, who thought Zeiger "too Jewish."

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A year later he moved to a larger station, where his duties were expanded from the usual patter to serving as host of a daily interview show that aired from a local restaurant. He quickly proved equally adept at talking to the waitresses, and the celebrities who began dropping by.

By the early 1960s King had gone to yet a larger Miami station, scored a newspaper column and become a local celebrity himself.

Then his big break came in 1985 on CNN. The variety of guests King interviewed was stunning - politicians, stars and world leaders - from Nelson Mandela to Marlon Brando. He was known for his easygoing style that favored the guest instead.

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Shortly after September 11, King came back to New York to host his show.

Off-screen, King became notorious for his 'I Do's,' marrying eight times to seven different women., His final and longest-lasting to Shawn King.

Despite his health problems, King persevered until his death at age 87.

Some information from the Associated Press

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