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."
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.
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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