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How Did Steve Allen's Life of Laughter End in a Mysterious and Tragic Death?

Aired April 25, 2001 - 21:00   ET




STEVE ALLEN, ENTERTAINER: Don't worry, Molly. Here I come. I'm off to the rescue.



KING: Tonight, he was one of the world's most brilliant comics. But how did a life of laughter end in a mysterious and tragic death? Joining us to talk about her late husband for the time since his passing, Steve Allen's wife of more than 40 years, Jayne Meadows. Also with us tonight, his son, Bill Allen.

And later, born into a life of crime, his mother is convicted killer Sante Kimes. He says she taught him to lie cheat and steal. And his half-brother, Kenneth Kimes, is doing time for the same murder as their mom. How did Kent Walker escape their tangled web of deception and death? He will share a blood chilling story of survival. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Steve Allen died October 30 of the year 2000. He died at his son Bill's home. It was Halloween eve. He had been in good health, even had given a concert the night before. And then suddenly he went in, as you remember, Bill, calling in, he called in to the show and we did a tribute to him. And just went down to lie down and passed away.

BILL ALLEN, SON: Yes, he had come over to carve pumpkins with the children and brought another one of his grandchildren, my brother, Brian's son, Michael, to visit. And he just seemed a little unsteady and asked if he could go in other room and lay down for a few minutes and he slipped away from us.

KING: Now you are the only son of the marriage of Steve and Jayne, right?

B. ALLEN: That's right.

KING: Steve was married before that, had three sons who you're very close to as well?

JAYNE MEADOWS, WIDOW: Very, very close.

B. ALLEN: Steven (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Brian and David.

KING: How did you find out, Jayne, that Steve had passed?

MEADOWS: Bill called me and said dad is very ill. And I said, "Oh Bill, with what?" And he said, "Mom, the paramedics working on him now." And I said, "Bill, tell me the truth. Is he still with us?" And Bill said, "No." Well, I -- everything stopped in my brain and I just went to pieces and then Bill came and picked me up.

KING: Now you went in to check on him on the couch what, to have dinner or something?

B. ALLEN: Yes, just to see how he was. He had actually originally stopped in the den to visit my son, Bradley, who was doing his homework and his ironic last words to Bradley were, "Bradley, you have a lifetime to visit with your grandpa, but only one night to finish your homework." And he stepped into the other room to lay down.

KING: And he was -- did you know he was dead?

B. ALLEN: When we got to him it was pretty apparent that he had slipped away from us.

KING: And everyone thought what? Heart attack, right?


B. ALLEN: Yes, yes. and it seemed so peaceful. We thought that was the case.

KING: When, Jayne, did you discover otherwise?

MEADOWS: Well, I won't say it is ESP, but I said to Bill, "I want an autopsy." Because there were no doctors there, you see. They just said over the phone he had a heart attack.

KING: Usually that's automatic, right, when a physician is not present at death, they do an autopsy?


B. ALLEN: It was relatively...

MEADOWS: They called the coroner, which is what they do if there's not a doctor. And so the coroner came and we were with him in the hospital until the coroner took him away, and so I said to bill, "My whole family have always been cremated. I want Steve cremated. I had wanted to know if it was heart." Because he had been -- he finished his last back that afternoon.

KING: Book just out, by the way, "Vulgarians at the Gate." Now in bookstores. It's not a novel. It is about his ongoing war with things he didn't like in popular culture, Steve Allen's last book, his 733rd book.


KING: OK, so the -- now it took two months, right?

MEADOWS: Two months, yes.

KING: And you find out, they disclose two months later, that a minor traffic accident triggered the death. How?

B. ALLEN: Apparently it caused a rupture in his heart that caused bleeding in the heart, and the heart filled up with blood, and ceased to beat.

KING: Did he tell you he'd had a minor traffic accident?

B. ALLEN: No, I was holding my 6-year-old daughter, his granddaughter, in my left arm, and her carved pumpkin in my right arm as he arrived. And I think he decided probably not to say anything about it.

KING: How did you find out, Jayne, that there was a car accident?

MEADOWS: Well, there was a darling grandson who had just come to visit us from Oregon. And he was in the car with Steve, and he said that the man was perfectly lovely, and...

KING: He sideswiped like, or something, or?

B. ALLEN: Yes, apparently just backing out of a neighborhood driveway someone wasn't looking and hit him.


MEADOWS: And hit him. And Steve was driving and he hit him on this side. And if it hadn't been for the autopsy we would have never known. Four ribs were broken on this side. He was black and blue all the way down on this side, and whether it was a rib I don't know, but something pierced the heart, you see.

KING: Do you think something might have saved him had he sought medical attention right there?

B. ALLEN: Well, it's possible. We have been told by doctors that it is possible, that had they known what had transpired they might have been able to do something to relieve the pressure on the heart from the bleeding.

KING: Has that made it any easier for you, Jayne?

B. ALLEN: It hasn't, but the lesson for people in car accidents is, go get medical attention. Be sure you are fine, particularly at 78 years of age. KING: Which is something Steve would be on this program raving about if it were a friend of his. Why didn't he get medical attention?

MEADOWS: Exactly. And I actually felt guilty and sad and bitter that I wasn't with him, because I felt I could have saved him. I guess we always feel that way. I thought, "Oh, if I had been there he would never have died." But I have been told that that wasn't a possibility.

KING: Was he ever seriously ill?

MEADOWS: He had had two minor strokes, years ago. And he had had colon cancer about 15 years ago.

KING: Did he get surgery for it?

MEADOWS: Oh, yes, and it was very successful. Absolutely. In fact the day before he died he had done a program, he had, two days before, come from being on the road, very successfully, and he was home one day, and did a big concert, and had this grandson with him, and he turned to the audience -- packed house -- and said, "Well, I have to give you all a intermission now." He said, "I don't want to take one. I'm having fun. I want to go on." He said, "But you all better go." And they all screamed, "No, no, no." He did 2 1/2 hours without -- no intermission, and left, died the next day.

KING: He traveled a lot, too, didn't he?

MEADOWS: Oh, yes, loved to do it.

KING: What -- was he -- what made him special as a father?

B. ALLEN: Well, he was really a devoted father. For all his travel requirements and all his demands from the public, he made a commitment to be there as a father. He was my little league coach, he would drive me to school when he could, he would help me with my homework. He was really a devoted father.

KING: And you run his companies, right?

B. ALLEN: Yes, I do, Meadowlane Enterprises and Meadowlane Music. Meadowlane Music owns the publishing for the 8,583 songs he wrote in his lifetime.

KING: Eight thous -- and this is his 54th...

B. ALLEN: Fifty-fourth published book, "Vulgarians at the Gate."

KING: And is that you as a boy?

B. ALLEN: Yes, it is. That is at a birthday party, absolutely right.

KING: We'll be right back with more of -- more on the passing of the late Steve Allen, finding out whole story. And their first public appearance -- Jayne's first public appearance since the death. We will talk about life after the death of someone you lived with that long, who was that special to the public.

Tomorrow night, Commander Scott Waddle will be with us, fresh from the submarine inquiry that led to his not court-martial but leaving the United States Navy. Scott Waddle, his only prime time live appearance, tomorrow night on this program. Friday night, Vice President Dick Cheney. We will be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You think that you will bring a nice yakkety yawn to Billy Allen?

S. ALLEN: Certainly, my dear.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Well, thank you very much, Santa. And now, Billy, dear, you say good-bye to Santa.

S. ALLEN: Good-bye, young fellow. You are a fine boy. A fine upstanding boy. So stand up, boy.




S. ALLEN (singing): We met at 9:00.

MEADOWS (singing): We met at 8:00.

S. ALLEN (singing): I was on time.

MEADOWS (singing): Oh, no. You were late.

S. ALLEN (singing): I yes, I remember it well. We dined with friends.

MEADOWS (singing): We dined alone.

S. ALLEN (singing): A tenor sang.

MEADOWS (singing): A baritone.

S. ALLEN (singing): Yes, I remember it well. That dazzling April moon.

MEADOWS (singing): There was none that night and the month was June.

S. ALLEN (singing): That's right. That's right.


KING: What's it been like? Hard? MEADOWS: Hard is not the word, Larry. I couldn't -- I couldn't answer the phone for over two months. And it's still hard. It's very hard. But there's one thing that's helping me. I have been traveling all over the country, accepting awards, honorary things, for Steve, and having Bill -- oh, I couldn't -- if I hadn't Bill as a son, I couldn't make it.

KING: Were you watching the night he called in when we did the tribute to Steve?

MEADOWS: Oh, yes, yes. That was the most beautiful -- and Jay Leno was so beautiful. And Johnny Carson wrote me the most gorgeous letter in his own handwriting. You know, he's a recluse. He doesn't go anywhere, And David Letterman -- David Letterman is coming out to do -- I think it's in June, a big -- they're turning over the Retinitis Pigmentosa people have a big building they've bought. And it's going to be the Steve Allen clinic. And Colin, you know -- Conan, I mean, Conan O'Brien. From the beginning, Bill, you tell me that he's kept a photograph over his desk, of Steve.


KING: And they're going to do a special tribute to late night talkers on...

B. ALLEN: NBC is going to do a 50th anniversary of NBC late night and include a lot of the early "Tonight Show" footage, and a lot of the examples of what Dad created that's still on the air each night.

KING: And he started that show before he met you, right?

MEADOWS: No. No, no, I was there the very first night.

KING: Very first...

MEADOWS: Absolutely.

B. ALLEN: Premiered on her birthday.

MEADOWS: And it premiered -- the network show premiered on my birthday, and Louis Nye said, "Oh, Jayne, well, you know. this show was so great. We were all so free, and now we're on the network. It's not going to work."

And I said, "Louis, this show will run forever." And it's the longest-running show in the history of television. But I have to tell you, Larry, when you say, "Was it hard," it was hard because the world -- well, you know Steve. But for the world, they know him as this funny, silly man with a cackle, who is so creative. But I know the man that cared about society. I know the man who, when I said to him, "Steve, be careful, dear. You're involved in all these causes. You're involved in early civil rights...

KING: First peacenik.


KING: The first "ban the bomber."

MEADOWS: Absolutely. And long before that, the civil rights, and crime, before that, you know.

B. ALLEN: Prison reform, rights for the migrant farm workers.

KING: Now, to his death, still adds fighting obscenity on television.


KING: He hated "Jerry Springer," he hated all that.

MEADOWS: Yes. And he hated violence. He hated violence. He was a man who seemed to be always sensing whatever was the problem, because his book is just expressing, as Bill will tell you...

KING: The new one.

MEADOWS: It's in the front page every day, of the trades.

KING: He was writing it -- in fact, he was editing it when he died...

B. ALLEN: He was literally editing it on the day he passed away. He had completed it just in the weeks before his death, and was editing the proofs on the day he passed away, It was very important to him, Larry.

He had spent 50 years in the entertainment business, was very proud of his own contributions, and a big fan of some of the best that television and film and music have offered. But he really didn't feel that the industry was living up to standards it was capable of, and respecting its audiences the way it thought the industry should.

MEADOWS: What is -- Bill, what is the magazine that today came out, and is the front page of all the New York papers?

B. ALLEN: Just today, "Family Circle" magazine revealed a poll that said 70 percent -- 77 percent of Americans feel there's far too much sex and filth and vulgarity on television today.

KING: Your father, a very liberal person, politically. In fact, one of the early great liberalists...

MEADOWS: That's right.

KING: Took off on this -- a lot of the liberals were dismayed when he really took off, because he was coming close to saying, almost, "ban it."

B. ALLEN: Yeah, he was coming close, because he was trying to get the attention of his colleagues in the business. And he was invited to a number of industry conferences and luncheons, and he spoke directly to his friends, who were studio executives, network executives, writers, producers, actors, and said, "Show more respect for the audience."

KING: Did you hear, Jayne, from all the people he helped, because I bet more people started in the business through him...

MEADOWS: Yes, absolutely.

KING: Comics and singers, and...

MEADOWS: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Steve and Edie...

MEADOWS: Oh, well, Steve Laurence is the only person that was on the first "Tonight Show," right to the end. He was a little high school boy, 14 years old.

KING: Jefferson High School, Brooklyn, New York.

MEADOWS: Yes, that's right. And, you know, on the book jacket of the book, Joe Lieberman, Grant (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and that wonderful...

B. ALLEN: Dolores Tucker.

MEADOWS: That African-American woman.

B. ALLEN: National Congress of Black Women.

MEADOWS: Yes. She fought Warner Brothers.

KING: Did they do notes for the...

MEADOWS: They wrote the most beautiful -- in fact, Bill saw Joe Lieberman the other day at USC, and...

B. ALLEN: He was giving a wonderful speech down at USC, primarily on foreign policy, and I gave him one of the very first copies of the book. I knew Dad would want him to have it. And he gave me the biggest hug and said, "God bless you and your mother and your dear, dear father. He was a wonderful man, and a partner with me in this fight to improve the culture."

MEADOWS: Oh, Steve loved Lieberman, and Lieberman, Steve.

KING: We'll be right back with Jayne Meadows and Bill Allen. At the bottom of the hour, Kent Walker, a very different kind of story. Don't go away.


S. ALLEN (singing): That carriage ride.

MEADOWS (singing): You walked me home.

S. ALLEN (singing): You lost a glove.

MEADOWS (singing): I lost a comb.


S. ALLEN (singing): Ah, yes, I remember it well




KING: Won't the "Tonight Show" be in the first paragraph?

S. ALLEN: Depends on the age of the observer. I'm sure the show will still be around, so young people will be impressed, that, oh, did he do that? I didn't know that.

But, so much does depend, as I say, on the age of the observer.

KING: To you, what would be?

S. ALLEN: Well, my primary gift is for the composition of music. I'm a good lyricist, too, but I'm a better composer...

KING: And that's what you would think first when you think of Steve Allen. I would think television host...

S. ALLEN: Oh, of course...

KING: And introducer of new comedians.

S. ALLEN: Yeah.

MEADOWS: And you know what I think? I think it's wit. You ask anybody, red buttons always ask for him to emcee because of his wit. They will all say, "the wittiest man in show business." That's number one.


KING: We're back. That was an interview that I did in 1996 with -- remember, at the piano, with Jayne and Steve. I had the honor of interviewing Steve many times. Being interviewed by him. Following him as abbot of the Friars Club, here in California. Considered it an honor to know him.

B. ALLEN: He used to say, "Thank God for Larry King," because of the serious treatment you give subjects that were fascinating to him.

KING: You were regular viewers, right?

MEADOWS: Oh, not only regular viewers, but I can remember word for word what you said that night at the Friars. You went on after Steve and you said, "He has been my hero, Steve Allen." And of course, you won yourself with me, my dear.

KING: Elko, Nevada, let's take a call for Jayne Meadows and Bill Allen. Hello.

CALLER: I'm a poet. I'm calling Elko, and I met Steve in Buffalo many years ago, and my question is: How will both of you continue his campaign, as well as Joe Lieberman's wonderful idea of getting our culture back somewhere where he would really appreciate, that we're continuing, what we could do for him?

KING: Well, this book is a big part of it. They're really promoting this thing.

B. ALLEN: The first step is being here to talk to you and your audience about this book.

KING: This may be the biggest book he ever wrote.

B. ALLEN: It could be. I think it's the definitive work on this subject. He really analyzes the complexity of the subject. This is not an easy problem we've gotten into, and it's not going to be an easy solution. But he gives some very specific suggestions of what each of us can do, individually, to try to improve our popular culture.

One of the appropriate steps for our industries to take, our government to take, it's really something people should read if they want to know how we can improve it.

KING: The book is just out; it's in every store, wide first printing, called "Vulgarians at the Gate." He was always involved in something, right?

B. ALLEN: Always.

MEADOWS: Always.

KING: To Staten Island, New York. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, I would like to know how many years, Steve and Jayne were married, and I also would like to know if their marriage was as beautiful as it always appeared to everybody.

KING: OK, how many -- you didn't hear. How many years were you married? And, was it always as great as it appeared?

MEADOWS: It was greater every year, oh.

B. ALLEN: He used to write poem to mom every birthday, every anniversary, every Mother's Day, every Christmas.

MEADOWS: Every Valentine's Day, I'm going to bring out the book of poetry, just the most beautiful poetry. You know, when you're first married, it is all very physical, you know, love, but, it got better and better that is why so hard for me, because we were so close. KING: You got him on "What's My Line," right?

MEADOWS: Yes, how did you know that?

KING: Someone told me.

MEADOWS: I didn't know that.

KING: He also did many movies, including the "Bennie Goodman Story."


KING: Noel Coward once said of Steve Allen: the most talented man in America; other than that, nothing much.


KING: We'll be back with Jayne Meadows and Bill Allen.

Don't forget: Commander Scott Waddle tomorrow night, his only live prime time -- first live, prime time interview. We'll be right back.


S. ALLEN: Gosh, that is cold! Oh, that is sickening!


This program goes into saloons, oh, all over America.

Another what? A gravy train? Gravy train. Why would I...




S. ALLEN: Where else but in America can a grown man run down the street trying to fly a kite -- I will be right out.


Millions of TV viewers look on and say to themselves, what's on the late show?


OK! Let her rip!


KING: See, nothing is new. Letterman does it now, it's done 50 years ago. Only kidding! Nothing against Letterman, but Steve invent the form.

MEADOWS: Oh, and Letterman always admitted it. He was -- he was the most vocal about, I have copied my show after...

KING: For the benefit of viewers who want to stay in touch with Jayne, there is a Web site. You can contact...

B. ALLEN: Thousands of people have e-mailed us since dad's passing to tell us beautiful stories about what he meant to them, and people who had been touched by him, worked with him, known him, or just watched him on television and were moved, and...

KING: So, you can log into and it comes to you.

MEADOWS: And to Audrey. It's all of us.


MEADOWS: Bill worked it all out. It's marvelous.

B. ALLEN: It's the way people can find their old movies, their books, their records, anything you want to know about...


MEADOWS: The biggest seller, outside of Steve's books and CDs, is our old (UNINTELLIGIBLE). There are people that, all over the...

KING: Great show.

B. ALLEN: All over the world, people write in.

KING: You said even you were surprised some of the things he had done around the world for charities and the impact he had on people.

MEADOWS: Things I never knew, Larry. I am getting letters from people, England, you name it, Paris, all over the world. There was a young man, that he came out of the jungles and he got a scholarship at a university, had no shoes, he went to the university with Brian, one of the my step sons.

And after the first year, he couldn't afford, so Steve paid his, you know, tuition, and a few years later, he came back here, to America, and when Steve met him at the airport, the man got off and he had rings, big gold rings -- he's now one of the richest men in Africa.

He invited us on a trip to Africa, all expenses paid; we could go on to Paris, England, everything. He has helped more people that I never knew about.

B. ALLEN: People he loaned money to buy their homes when they were ill and had no other way to do it.

MEADOWS: Couldn't make the payments.

B. ALLEN: People who he put through schools, people who he provided...

KING: So, one of your purposes then is to keep this legacy, which I had asked him about, alive, right?

B. ALLEN: Absolutely. Both the creative legacy and the legacy of social activism. The man left 54 books, and 36 unfinished, unpublished books, some of them are substantially finished and will someday make it to the marketplace. Some of them I wouldn't want to try to complete without him here.

KING: He was thinking then all the time about something.

MEADOWS: All the time, he never wasted a moment. The kids would kid him because he always had, you know, what do you call...

B. ALLEN: Pocket dictating machines.

MEADOWS: Pocket dictating machines in his bathrobes on every table.

B. ALLEN: A joke, a song, a thought, a book chapter. All the books including "Vulgarians At The Gate" were essentially spoken into this dictating machine.

MEADOWS: He has been working -- working on that book for years.

KING: You ought to be both so proud.


B. ALLEN: Extraordinarily proud.

KING: Thank you, Bill.

B. ALLEN: Thank you, Larry.

MEADOWS: I just want to say this is Steve Allen, he was so proud of this young man and this young man has saved my life. Saved my life.

KING: Your baby.


KING: Your boy.

MEADOWS: Yes, although I'm very close to the other boys. To my stepsons.

B. ALLEN: He raised four terrific sons.

KING: Jayne Meadows, Steve Allen's wife of 46 years, and his son, Bill. We will take a break and when we come back, Kent Walker.

I'm Larry King. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now from New York is Kent Walker. Kent is the author of the new book "Son of a Grifter" -- there you see the cover -- "The Twisted Tale of Sante and Kenny Kimes, the Most Notorious Con Artists in America." It was co-written with Mark Schone.

Kent's mother is Sante Kimes. Sante Kimes is in prison in New York on a sentence of more than 120 years for the 1998 murder of the elderly socialite Irene Silverman, a body yet to be found. She faces extradition to California for the 1998 shooting of a business associate where her son, Kent's half-brother, Kenneth, already has been extradited to California in that case. Like Sante, Kenny was convicted in the murder of Irene Silverman as well. Kent Walker and Kenny are half-brothers and you are the older, right, Kent?

KENT WALKER, AUTHOR, "SON OF A GRIFTER": Yes, I'm older by about 13 years.

KING: OK, we're going to play a clip in a minute, but before we do that, why not just go off? Why did you write this?

WALKER: You know, my intention when this all started just to stay as far away from this as possible. I had a good friend by the name Larry Garrison (ph), who saw some potential in this project, and thought that it could help some people out there. We're hoping that if there is a young man or young woman out there who is in anything remotely like this, that maybe they can have a beacon of hope.

I know that if I had a book like this when I was kid, it might have made things a little bit easier for me, might have been something different for my brother.

KING: So, you're glad you wrote it?

WALKER: Yes, I am. I'm proud of what the result. It's a good book. It's not a true crime book, it's a book about a tragic life, three tragic lives, actually, and I'm very proud of the result

KING: You include your own in that tragic life description?

WALKER: I've got a shot for a good life now, but there is some tragedy there also.

KING: What have you been doing, Kent? What's your occupation?

WALKER: I sell bathroom cleaners.

KING: And your father was whom?

WALKER: My father was Ed Walker, a very honorable man.

KING: And was he Sante Kimes' first husband?

WALKER: Actually, he was my mother's second husband. My mother had a brief marriage back in the '50s to a man named Lee Powers (ph).

KING: And then Mr. Kimes, Kenneth's father, was the third husband?

WALKER: Ken, my stepfather, was mom's third husband, and they married in mid-'70s, after the millionaire chase, what we call it.

KING: Let me give you a clip of our interview with your mother at Rikers Island. This was before she was sent up to prison, Upstate New York. This was the holding cell, sort of, where they held people before they go on to prison. Watch.



SANTE KIMES, CONVICTED MURDERER: The biggest injustice is that there is no crime. They don't know where the woman is. They manufactured a crime. What happened is, I'm sure that the world knows, that New York is one of the most corrupt law systems in the world. This is the premeditated murder of my own son, who has done nothing. They had no crime, Larry.


KING: Kent, do you think your mother committed that murder?

WALKER: There is no doubt in my mind. It is difficult to watch that. It is kind of flashback for me. She spins herself into this altered state and I mean, I watched that when she did that show, when she got on your show, and I couldn't believe it.

Here she is just convicted of murder, and she is on LARRY KING LIVE. It just personifies what Sante Kimes is all about. It's the middle of an election year, and here is a convicted murderer that everyone knows she did it, and she is still on her proclaiming her innocence. This is classic Sante.

KING: Do you love her?

WALKER: Very much, you know, the book we try to show it, but 90 percent of time, it was a fantastic life. We lived in great places. We had a lot of fun. She had charisma. You know, that 10 percent of the time was just horrible, but, 80, 90 percent of the time was wonderful. We had a lot of fun.

KING: Did you sense that she had -- did you sense early on hat there was a con aspect to her?

WALKER: Well, growing up has always been the con. When I was before 10, it just -- con was a way of life. That's what she did. Everything was stolen. When I got into my teens, when Kenny came into the picture, and after she married Ken, that's when I started kind of rebelling against her a little bit, and she didn't like that. It made it where she had a fault within herself by virtue of her son, and it caused all of the conflicts. She has always been the consummate con artist, but until the '90s, when she took it up to the murder range.

KING: In your book, Kent, do you think -- you think that she actually didn't do the killing. You think Kenny did the killing, right?

WALKER: Yes, we point out in "Son of a Grifter" that it's sad, but Kenny in his early 20s was kind of the result of two mismatched parents. I mean, mom and Ken loved each other fiercely, but they both brought in a part to the relationship that Kenny didn't have a chance, and I think he had ideas of his own and actually made mom even more dangerous.

KING: How did -- we see a picture here now of you and your half- brother. How do you get along with him?

WALKER: Kenny and I were close at one time. We were brothers, and, our biggest source of arguments is I kept on trying to get him out of that grasp of my mother, and that is eventually what broke off our relationship. Now, since the conviction, he's been extradited, he is starting to get it now.

He's starting to realize why big brother was trying to pull him out of the situation. He's starting to realize now what I went through and stuff, but you know, it's amazing. We were as close as two brothers can get a lot of the time, and the only thing that drove us apart was the fact that I wanted to pull him out of his mother's grasp. And it's very frustrating.

KING: When you heard about the arrest and the like, were you shocked?

WALKER: You know, I just got back from a trip to Newport Beach where we lived when I was a young boy. I had just got through showing my family one of the about half a dozen houses we lived in, and I was really -- it was a time to reflect, and when I saw the newspaper article, I actually felt a sense of relief. And I felt horrible for it, but just to know that the waiting was over. It, you know -- time had come.

KING: One thing to be a con artist, another thing to be a murderer.

WALKER: Yes, I'm wrestling with that one right now, you know. And there's different types of murderers. It is cold. As it sounds, the other murders that they're implicated in, I can see how my mother can justify it because she's thinking she is protect the family. With the case of Irene Silverman, though, that had to be premeditated. I mean, that had to be part of the plan she had. So, yes, it just got worse and worse and worse and worse.

KING: How do you think your father would have dealt with this knowledge?

WALKER: My real father?

KING: Yes.

WALKER: He's been out of the situation for so long, I'm not sure, to be honest with you. He's lucky. he got out 30 years ago.

KING: You don't see him?

WALKER: I talk to him often. He's a very honorable man. He is a good dad. He's been very supportive of me with the book. He's been a good friend to talk to, and I'm real proud to be his son.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Kent Walker. This extraordinary book is "Son of a Grifter." To test your knowledge on the Sante and Kenneth Kimes case, log on to my Web site at We'll be right back.


KING: You don't like term grifters..

KENNETH KIMES, CONVICTED MURDERER: Larry, would you like the term grifters?

KING: Well, some people -- there was a movie about them. Some people might think....

K. KIMES: I don't gave a damn about any movie. That's unfair...

KING: Good grifters are con artists. Grifters don't kill.

K. KIMES: There is no such thing as good grifter, sir, and the term "grifter" is nothing more than an allegation that is an unprovable event. There is no proof of me grifting or conning or killing. I did not commit any crimes.

KING: So, media played this up.

K. KIMES: We're selling papers right now. We're hot stuff.



S. KIMES: I lived the biggest mistake I have made, throughout my live, is trusting the wrong people, believing the wrong people.

KING: You personally never did anything to your knowledge that was wrong?

KIMES: Oh, no. I would never say that. I was homeless when I was a young girl, I was running around the streets of Los Angeles trying to -- feed myself, so I stole things, like cheese or something like that. I then was rescued, and adopted. I married a fantastically wealthy man. His first relatives hated me, and right now, are trying to destroy me, all of over money.


KING: Kent Walker is our guest. He's the author of "Son of a Grifter." In it, you write: "My mother loved me fiercely, and I know that my comfort and well-being were vital to her. However warped her sense of what comfort and well-being were, to this day I believe there is nothing she wouldn't do for me."

Have you been in touch with her?

WALKER: The last time I spoke with her was last October, about two weeks after Kenny pulled a stunt, with the hostages in it.

KING: When he held the hostage, the reporter, and he held that hostage...


KING: ...went into solitary confinement. Were you shocked when Kenny announced, that, yes, we did the murder and I will find the body for you, and was never found?

WALKER: Well, that is a dilemma there also. Kenny did let me know that he was responsible for the two crimes that we are talking about. I went back and visited him in January, and I am not defending him, I'm not saying he told the truth or not, but he completely denied that he ever said that to any of the authorities up here.

His version of the events was that there was no legal representation for him, so he wouldn't -- he didn't want to talk to them.

KING: Does Kenny lie a lot?

WALKER: Kenny is his mother's son, he lies -- very good at it also.

KING: What do you think -- and you are not a doctor or anything, Ken -- what went wrong with your mom? With this vivacious personality, pretty young lady, men liked her -- why do you think she went this route?

WALKER: You know, that is a question I have been asked so many times and the answer is this: you know, people always want to have to have a reason why she did this. Was it because of a bad childhood or, was it because of a mental illness, or was it because of she is evil?

You know, it is what she is. She was never satisfied, she was capable of doing anything, but she was intelligent and loving, Sante was Sante. I have yet to hear any type of description from either a doctor or from a behavioral therapist or anything that could actually explain this type of behavior.

KING: She was tough on your father, wasn't she?

WALKER: She was tough on all her men. My father -- destroyed him. Her millionaire husband, Ken Kimes, she destroyed him also. The only man I know who was part of her life who came through unscathed was her first husband, who offered congratulations, you're one of the few. You're the only one, actually.

KING: There were a lot of rumors, do you stretch yourself to believe any rumors about some sort of physical relation between your mother and your step brother?

WALKER: I saw the reports of the incest. And I know that their relationship was over the top, but I never saw anything or heard anything about any -- that would even lead me to even believe that in any way, shape, or form. I never believed any of those.

KING: What have you learned were her you didn't know?

WALKER: Well, I have learned a lot of things. It's sad actually, we want to make sure that the details in the book were accurate, and we spent a lot of time on that. How many people are actually hurt by this? You know, my own life, anyone who ever cared for me, has been damaged by this, and it's a huge regret. People who did trust her, you know.

It was kind of tough for us, because everyone in a way when this first happened, really didn't want to believe that she did this. They missed that Sante that was fun to be with in the restaurants and surprised them with a trip to the Bahamas, but as more of the evidence became more aware, and then they had to be more honest with the responsibilities, then they're realizing, yeah, she is capable of do this.

They start remembering some of the temper tantrums, they start remembering some of the things that just weren't normal. I learned that she was also very selfish, and I don't -- in a way, she didn't mean to, but her actions were always self-serving, and, this is a lot of bad stuff, unfortunately.

KING: What did you talk about the last time you talked to her?

WALKER: The mother I talked to in October wasn't the mother I grew up with. I believe my mother has spun herself in a little spot in her mind where she is believing -- the conspiracy theory she spent a half hour talking to you about, and you handled it pretty well, I got to admit.

You know, everyone is out to get her, you know, the NYPD was out to get her. Why? It didn't matter why; she believed it so, in her mind, it is true. I think she still believes that Irene Sullivan is still alive. I still believe that she thinks she is going victorious in this.

KING: We will be right back with more. We'll include phone calls for Kent Walker. The book is "Son of a Grifter" written with Mark Schone. Don't go away.


KING: What do you make of the stories that have appeared about you and your son, because that has added to this spice of this case, that you had some sort of incestuous relationship?

S. KIMES: I'm so glad you asked me.

KING: Where did that begin?

S. KIMES: OK, when I first heard this, I thought, you know, I thought I'd thought of all the slime that they could go into. But I guess I didn't realize, you know, how far they can sink. My son -- I held on my heart when he was born, he slept with my husband and I.

That is ridiculous -- it is so slimy and so ridiculous, that I don't even have to answer it.




KING: Your mother is very, very, very, very, angry. She says mostly for you.

K. KIMES: Well, my mom is -- is a wonderful caring mother, and her world is me. And she is my world.


KING: You, said Kent Walker, that they were over the top for each other. What did you mean?

WALKER: Well, you just saw what that clip with Kenny. It is not a normal relationship for the son would have with the mother, but in Kenny's defense, Sante Kimes was not a normal mother. She was able to -- she provided an atmosphere, when I was a kid, most of the time where you felt infallible, she -- nothing bad happened to you.

I mean, I got beat up by a kid who was a lot older than me once in Newport Beach and she beat his father up with a garden hose. You know, you get some confidence with that. That shows you that hey, not too many moms do that.

KING: How did you escape it, Kent?

WALKER: I was fortunate, that in several key points of my life, I believe, that I had a glimpse of what it was like on the outside. And all these people had been hurt by this, and I hate that. But when I was in grade school in Palm Springs, in high school, I was very fortunate to have some really positive people around me that cared for me, and enough so, when I got to my 20s where (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was saying, "You know what, Kenny is not getting this. I need to try to pull him out of this." And there was a battle for 15-20 years.

KING: So you could have been like Kenny.

WALKER: You know, I don't want to say yes to that, because I just -- I hate to be able to picture myself like that, but if -- to be honest, if it was in the same circumstances as Kenny, yes, it could have happened I guess.

KING: Did your mother want you to kill once? WALKER: My mother asked me to do serious damage to a friend of hers. And she didn't come out and say the word "kill," but the implication was there. And I went up and warned him instead.

KING: But she wanted him physically hurt.

WALKER: She wanted him physically hurt and finally hurt, is the way she put it, and it was all because of a fur coat case when she stole some fur coats from Washington, D.C., and the guy testified against her. And she wanted him to be quieted.

KING: Manhattan, New York City, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Mr. Walker, have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime?

WALKER: I have been arrested one time, was at Halloween party. A guy took a swing at me, I swung back and they put us in the cool off period. But other than that, never had a problem.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Kent Walker, author of "Son of a Grifter." Tomorrow night, Commander Scott Waddle of the submarine corps of the United States Navy, who had that big hearing. He was not court-martialed, but he is leaving the service, his first prime time interview. Friday night, Vice President Dick Cheney. We will be right back.


S. KIMES: Let me tell you about Kenny. The only reason I think I'm alive is that I must prove his innocence. Being a parent is the most important thing in the world and that boy is as innocent and as wonderful a son as you could ever pray for. He is in hell, he has done nothing wrong.

And I will -- I will spend my last breath praying for the public to free my innocent son. He has done nothing to fight this corrupt system to bring out the truth.




K. KIMES: I was a UCSB college student. I had a lot of friends. I had a fun life. I had a great father. I'm very proud of my mom and dad.

KING: And you were raised fairly wealthy, right?

K. KIMES: Yes, in my opinion.

KING: Yes. So you had a good life.

K. KIMES: I did. KING: My gosh, to have all this come around you, must be mind- boggling to you.

K. KIMES: It is -- it is difficult.

KING: Unless you know you did something wrong, then it is terrible. I mean then you are just -- you know, getting away with something, but why would you do this?

K. KIMES: Well, Larry, I don't think that is fair interjection. I did not do this. I did not commit this crime. I was arrested at the Hilton. There were no eyewitnesses, there was no physical evidence. I have no motive to commit this.

KING: By the way, you can now tune in to my Web site, and the answer to King's quiz will be revealed.

We are in our remaining comments with Kent Walker, author of "Son of a Grifter," who writes: "Living with my mother and brother was like living with a time bomb strapped to my back. I was surrounded by wealth and comfort but knew something bad was about to happen." How did you escape?

WALKER: Like I said before, I was fortunate to have some really good glimpses of what the outside was like. Finally I wised up. I got older. My family started being victimized by the situation, and I finally -- I gave up, you know, or wore out, might be better word, where I realized that -- as melodramatic as it sounds -- it was battle for Kenny, basically. And he had turned into something else, and I wasn't going to be the sacrificial lamb for him.

KING: Now do you think there are other kids -- I mean this is such an unusual case, yet you say you might be able to help people. Help them what? Break chains away from tawdry relationships or bad atmosphere?

WALKER: Well, provide hope more than anything. I hope there is no one going through something like this. I really do. But, you know, I know what it's like to love someone who is, in all practical purposes, unlovable, you know, and a lot of emotions go with that.

And I'm afraid a lot of people will do bad things, break laws, and stuff like that. I'm hoping that they realize that, you know what, you do the right thing. Stand your ground, you know. Unfortunately the day's probably going to come where you have to get out, but hang in there. Do the right thing.

KING: You worried about your mother in prison?

WALKER: You know, I do worry about her, but she's getting older now and stuff, but I bet you those guards have their hands full with Sante Kimes.

KING: Meaning she does not go quietly into the night.

WALKER: There is no such thing as going quietly into the night with Sante Kimes.

KING: And what do you think Kenneth is like out in California?.

WALKER: Well, I worry about Kenny, you know. They're talking about the possibility of a death penalty out there.

KING: Yes.

WALKER: And I would like to see that avoided. It is -- there are situations sometimes, justice is served. He's going to spend the rest of his life in jail. And I'm not defending what he did in any way, shape, or form, but I don't want to explain to my kids why their uncle was executed.

KING: Good luck to you, Kent.

WALKER: Thanks for the opportunity, Larry.

KING: Kent Walker, from our New York bureau, the author of "Son of a Grifter: The Twisted Tale of Sante and Kenny Kimes, the Most Notorious Con Artists in America," written with Mark Schone.

Tomorrow night, Commander Scott Waddle, his first prime-time live interview will be on this program tomorrow night. We will share his experiences with the submarine, the accident, and take your phone calls. And on Friday night we'll have an hour on the hundredth day, or right around the hundredth day of this administration, with vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney.

Thanks very much for joining us. For our whole crew here in Los Angeles, stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT." It is next. Good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16










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A well-balanced 'Day on the Job'

This article is about the television host. For other uses, see Larry King (disambiguation).

Larry King

King in March 2017

BornLawrence Harvey Zeiger
(1933-11-19) November 19, 1933 (age 84)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
ResidenceBeverly Hills, California, U.S.[1]
EducationLafayette High School
OccupationRadio and television host/personality
Years active1957–present
Net worth$144 million (2010) [2]
  • Freda Miller (m. 1952; annulled 1953)
  • Annette Kaye (m. 1961; div. 1961)
  • Alene Akins (m. 1961; div. 1963)
  • Mickey Sutphin (m. 1963; div. 1967)
  • Alene Akins (m. 1967; div. 1972)
  • Sharon Lepore (m. 1976; div. 1983)
  • Julie Alexander (m. 1989; div. 1992)
  • Shawn Southwick (m. 1997)

Larry King (born Lawrence Harvey[3] Zeiger; November 19, 1933) is an American television and radio host, whose work has been recognized with awards including two Peabodys and 10 Cable ACE Awards.

He began as a local Florida journalist and radio interviewer in the 1950s and 1960s and became prominent as an all-night national radio broadcaster starting in 1978.[4] From 1985 to 2010, he hosted the nightly interview television program Larry King Live on CNN. He currently hosts Larry King Now on Hulu and RT America during the week, and on Thursdays he hosts Politicking with Larry King, a weekly political talk show which airs in the evening on the same two channels.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

King was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Jennie (Gitlitz), a garment worker who was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Aaron Zeiger, a restaurant owner and defense-plant worker who was born in Kolomyia, in the Ukraine.[6][7][8][9][10][11] His parents were Orthodox Jews.[3]

King was educated at Lafayette High School, a public high school in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.[12] His father died at 44 of a heart attack[13] and his mother had to go on welfare to support her two sons. King was greatly affected by his father's death, and he lost interest in school. After graduating from high school, he worked to help support his mother and did not go on to college.[14] From an early age, however, he wanted to go into radio.[14]


Miami radio and television[edit]

A CBS staff announcer, whom King met by chance, suggested he go to Florida which was a growing media market with openings for inexperienced broadcasters. King went to Miami, and after initial setbacks, he got his first job in radio. The manager of a small station, WAHR[15] (now WMBM) in Miami Beach, hired him to clean up and perform miscellaneous tasks.[16] When one of their announcers quit, they put King on the air. His first broadcast was on May 1, 1957, when he worked as the disc jockey from 9 a.m. to noon.[17] He also did two afternoon newscasts and a sportscast. He was paid $55 a week.

He acquired the name Larry King when the general manager Marshall Simmonds said that Zeiger was too ethnic and difficult to remember, so Larry chose the surname King, which he got from an ad in the Miami Herald for King's Wholesale Liquor, minutes before air.[18] Within two years, he legally changed his name.[6]

He started doing interviews on a mid-morning show for WIOD, at Pumpernik's Restaurant in Miami Beach.[19] He would interview anyone who walked in. His first interview was with a waiter at the restaurant.[20] Two days later, singer Bobby Darin, in Miami for a concert later that day, walked into Pumpernik's[21][22] having come across King's radio show; Darin became King's first celebrity interview guest.[23]

His Miami radio show launched him to local stardom. A few years later, in May 1960, he hosted Miami Undercover, airing Sunday nights at 11:30 p.m. on WPST-TV Channel 10 (now WPLG).[24] On the show, he moderated debates on important issues of the time. The first American coast to coast concert tour of the Beatles brought the British Invasion of rock and roll music in 1964, and brought King his first nationwide exposure. King followed along with the group providing an intimate look at the cultural and music phenomenon for weeks with several behind the scenes interviews and commentary broadcasts.

King credits his success on local television to the assistance of comedian Jackie Gleason, whose national television variety show was being filmed in Miami Beach during this period. "That show really took off because Gleason came to Miami," King said in a 1996 interview he gave when inducted into the Broadcasters' Hall of Fame. "He did that show and stayed all night with me. We stayed till five in the morning. He didn't like the set, so we broke into the general manager's office and changed the set. Gleason changed the set, he changed the lighting, and he became like a mentor of mine."[25]

During this period, WIOD gave King further exposure as a color commentator for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League, during their 1970 season and most of their 1971 season.[26] However, he was dismissed by both WIOD and television station WTVJ as a late-night radio host and sports commentator as of December 20, 1971, when he was arrested after being accused of grand larceny by a former business partner.[27] Other staffers covered the Dolphins' games into their 24–3 loss to Dallas in Super Bowl VI. King also lost his weekly column at the Miami Beach Sun newspaper. The charges were dropped.[28] Eventually, King was rehired by WIOD in Miami.[28] For several years during the 1970s in South Florida, he hosted a sports talk-show called "Sports-a-la-King" that featured guests and callers.

National radio[edit]

Main article: Larry King Show

On January 30, 1978, King went national on a nightly Mutual Broadcasting System coast-to-coast broadcast,[29] inheriting the talk show slot that had been "Long John" Nebel's until his death, and had been pioneered by Herb Jepko.[30] King's Mutual show rapidly developed a devoted audience.[31]

It was broadcast live Monday through Friday from midnight to 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time. King would interview a guest for the first 90 minutes, with callers asking questions that continued the interview for another 90 minutes. At 3 a.m., he would allow callers to discuss any topic they pleased with him,[31] until the end of the program, when he expressed his own political opinions. That segment was called Open Phone America. Many stations in the western time zones would carry Open Phone America live, followed by the guest interview on tape delay.[32]

Some of King's regular callers used the pseudonyms "The Numbers Guy",[33] "The Chair", "The Portland Laugher,"[31] "The Miami Derelict," and "The Scandal Scooper".[34] The show was successful, starting with relatively few affiliates and eventually growing to more than 500. It ran until 1994.[35] King would occasionally entertain the audience by telling amusing stories from his childhood.[36][37]

For its final year, the show was moved to afternoons. The afternoon show was eventually given to David Brenner[38] and radio affiliates were given the option of carrying the audio of King's new CNN evening television program. The Westwood One radio simulcast of the CNN show continued until December 31, 2009.[39]


Main article: Larry King Live

He started his Larry King Live CNN show in June 1985, hosting a broad range of guests from controversial figures of UFO conspiracy theories and alleged psychics,[40] to prominent politicians and leading figures in the entertainment industry, often doing their first or only interview on breaking news stories on his show. After doing his CNN show from 9 to 10 p.m., King would then travel to his Mutual Radio office to do his radio show,[41] when both shows still aired.

Unlike many interviewers, King has a direct, non-confrontational approach. His reputation for asking easy, open-ended questions has made him attractive to important figures who want to state their position while avoiding being challenged on contentious topics.[42] King has said that when interviewing authors, he does not read their books in advance, so that he will not know more than his audience.[4][41]

Throughout his career King has interviewed many of the leading figures of his time. According to CNN, King has performed more than 30,000 interviews in his career.[7]

King also wrote a regular newspaper column in USA Today for almost 20 years, from shortly after that first national newspaper's debut in Baltimore-Washington in 1982 until September 2001.[43] The column consisted of short "plugs, superlatives and dropped names" but was dropped when the newspaper redesigned its "Life" section.[44] The column was resurrected in blog form in November 2008[45] and on Twitter in April 2009.[46]


On June 29, 2010, King announced that after 25 years, he would be stepping down from his nightly job hosting Larry King Live. However, he stated that he would remain with CNN to host occasional specials.[47] The announcement came in the wake of speculation that CNN had approached Piers Morgan, the British television personality and journalist, as King's primetime replacement,[48] which was confirmed that September.[49][50]

The final edition of Larry King Live aired on December 16, 2010, after a quarter-century.[51] The show concluded with his last thoughts and a thank you to his audience for watching and supporting him over the years. The concluding words of Larry King on the show were, "I... I, I don't know what to say except to you, my audience, thank you. And instead of goodbye, how about so long."[52]

On February 17, 2012, CNN announced that he would no longer host specials.[53]

Ora TV[edit]

In March 2012, King co-founded Ora TV, a production company, with Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim; the company signed a multi-year exclusive deal with Hulu to exclusively carry King's new talk-oriented web series, Larry King Now, beginning July 17.[54]

On October 23, 2012, King hosted the third-party presidential debate on Ora TV, featuring Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode, and Gary Johnson.[55]

On January 16, 2013, Ora TV celebrated their 100th episode of Larry King Now.


In May 2013 RT America announced that King would be anchoring a new talk show on its network. King said in an advertisement on RT: "I would rather ask questions to people in positions of power, instead of speaking on their behalf."[56][57] He also brought his Hulu show Larry King Now to RT.[58]

On June 13, 2013, RT previewed Larry King's new Thursday evening political talk show Politicking with Larry King with a discussion of Edward Snowden's leaking of the PRISM surveillance program.[59]

For his part, King stated in early March 2014, during the 2014 Crimean crisis, "I don't work for RT. My podcasts, Larry King Now and Politicking, are licensed for a fee to RT America by New York-based Ora TV."[60]

The Russian alignment of RT was widely noted in coverage of an interview King did with Republican Party Presidential candidate Donald Trump on September 8, 2016, in which Trump extended his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin.[61][62][63] He also criticized America’s media, lashing out against what he called "the dishonesty of the media". Later on, President Obama strongly criticized Trump for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and for appearing on a TV channel funded by the Russian government.[64][65]

In September 2017, King stated that he had no intention of ever retiring and expects to host his programs until he dies.[66]

Other ventures[edit]

Larry King remains active as a writer and television personality. King was the moderator of the sixth Kazenergy Eurasian Forum in Astana, Kazakhstan, an annual forum for Kazakhstan's energy sector occurring in October 2011.[67][68][69]

King guest starred in episodes of "Arthur", 30 Rock and Gravity Falls, had cameos in Ghostbusters[70] and Bee Movie, and voiced Doris the Ugly Stepsister in Shrek 2 and its sequels. He also played himself in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

King hosted the educational television series In View with Larry King from 2013 to 2015, which was carried on cable television networks including Fox Business Network and Discovery[71] and produced by The Profiles Series production company.[72]

King made an appearance alongside his wife, Shawn King, on October 8 edition of WWEMonday Night Raw and participated in a segment with The Miz and Kofi Kingston. He had served as Raw's Social Media Ambassador the previous week.

King has become a very active user on the social-networking site Twitter, where he posts thoughts and comments on a wide variety of subjects. King states, "I love tweeting, I think it's a different world we've entered. When people were calling in, they were calling in to the show and now on Twitter I'm giving out thoughts, opinions. The whole concept has changed."[73]

Since 2011, he has also made various TV infomercials, often appearing as a "host" discussing products like Omega-3 fatty acid dietary supplement OmegaXL[74] with guests, in an interview style reminiscent of his past TV programs.[75]

Charitable works[edit]

After his 1987 heart attack, King founded the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which paid for life-saving cardiac procedures for people who otherwise would not be able to afford them.[76]

On August 30, 2010, King served as the host of Chabad's 30th annual "To Life" telethon, in Los Angeles.[77]

He has donated to the Beverly Hills 9/11 Memorial Garden, and his name is on the monument.[78]

Controversial positions[edit]

On September 10, 1990, while on The Joan Rivers Show, Rivers asked King which contestant in the Miss America pageant was "the ugliest." King responded, "Miss Pennsylvania. She was one of the 10 finalists and she did a great ventriloquist bit ... The dummy was prettier."[79] King was a judge for the September 8, 1990, pageant. King later sent Miss Pennsylvania, Marla Wynne, a dozen long-stemmed roses and a telegram apologizing for saying she was the ugliest contestant in the pageant that year.[80]

In 1997, King was one of 34 celebrities to sign an open letter to then-German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, published as a newspaper advertisement in the International Herald Tribune, which protested the treatment of Scientologists in Germany, comparing it to the Nazis' oppression of Jews in the 1930s.[81] Other signatories included Dustin Hoffman and Goldie Hawn.[81]

Personal life[edit]

King has been married eight times, to seven women.[82] He married high-school sweetheart Freda Miller in 1952 at age 19.[83] That union ended the following year at the behest of their parents, who reportedly had the youngsters' marriage annulled.[83] King was later briefly married to Annette Kaye[83] who gave birth to his son, Larry Jr., in November 1961. King did not meet Larry Jr. until the son was in his thirties.[84] Larry Jr. and his wife, Shannon, have three children.[82]

In 1961, King married his third wife, Alene Akins, a Playboy Bunny at one of the magazine's eponymous nightclubs. King adopted Alene's son Andy in 1962, and divorced the following year.[83] In 1963, King married his fourth wife, Mary Francis "Mickey" Stuphin, who divorced King.[83] He remarried Akins, with whom he had a second child, Chaia, in 1969.[83] The couple divorced a second time in 1972.[83] In 1997, Dove Books published a book written by King and Chaia, Daddy Day, Daughter Day. Aimed at young children, it tells each of their accounts of his divorce from Akins.

On September 25, 1976, King married his fifth wife, mathematics teacher and production assistant Sharon Lepore. The couple divorced in 1983.[85]

King met businesswoman Julie Alexander in 1989, and proposed to her on the couple's first date on August 1, 1989.[86] Alexander became King's sixth wife on October 7, 1989, when the two were married in Washington, D.C.[87] The couple lived in different cities, however, with Alexander in Philadelphia, and King in Washington, D.C., where he worked. They separated in 1990 and divorced in 1992.[87] He became engaged to actress Deanna Lund in 1995, after five weeks of dating, but they remained unmarried.[88]

In 1997, he married his seventh wife, Shawn Southwick, born in 1959[89][90] as Shawn Ora Engemann,[89] a singer, actress, and TV host,[91] in King's Los Angeles hospital room three days before King underwent heart surgery to clear a clogged blood vessel.[90] The couple have two children: Chance, born March 1999, and Cannon, born May 2000.[92] He is stepfather to Arena Football League quarterback Danny Southwick.[93] On King and Southwick's 10th anniversary in September 2007, Southwick joked she was "the only [wife] to have lasted into the two digits".[91] On April 14, 2010, both Larry and Shawn King filed for divorce,[90][94] but have since reconciled.[95]

King resides in Beverly Hills, California.[1] He is an atheist.[96] A lifelong Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers fan, King is frequently seen behind home plate at Dodger games.[97]

From his eight marriages, King has five children and nine grandchildren, as well as four great-grandchildren.[98][99]

Heart disease[edit]

On February 24, 1987, King suffered a major heart attack and then had quintuple-bypass surgery.[37][100] Since then, King has written two books about living with heart disease. Mr. King, You're Having a Heart Attack: How a Heart Attack and Bypass Surgery Changed My Life (1989, ISBN 0-440-50039-7) was written with New York's Newsday science editor B. D. Colen. Taking On Heart Disease: Famous Personalities Recall How They Triumphed over the Nation's #1 Killer and How You Can, Too (2004, ISBN 1-57954-820-2) features the experience of various celebrities with cardiovascular disease including Peggy Fleming and Regis Philbin.[101]

King related his heart attack experience in a film interview in the 2015 British documentary film The Widowmaker which discusses cardiology diagnostic tests.

King has received annual chest X-rays to monitor his heart condition. During his 2017 examination, doctors discovered a cancerous tumor in his lung. It was successfully removed with surgery.[66]

Awards and nominations[edit]

King has received many broadcasting awards. He won the Peabody Award for Excellence in broadcasting for both his radio (1982)[102] and television (1992)[103] shows. He has also won 10 CableACE awards for Best Interviewer and for Best Talk Show Series.

In 1989, King was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame,[104] and in 1996 to the Broadcasters' Hall of Fame.[14] In 2002, the industry publication Talkers Magazine named King both the fourth-greatest radio talk show host of all time and the top television talk show host of all time.[105]

In 1994, King received the Scopus Award from the American Friends of Hebrew University.[3][106] In June 1998, he received an honorary degree from Brooklyn College, City University of New York, for his life achievements.

He was given the Golden Mike Award for Lifetime Achievement in January 2009, by the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California.

King is an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Beverly Hills. He is also a recipient of the President's Award honoring his impact on media from the Los Angeles Press Club in 2006.

King is the first recipient of the Arizona State University Hugh Downs Award for Communication Excellence,[107] presented April 11, 2007, via satellite by Downs himself.[108]

King was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Bradley University; for which he said "is really a hoot." King has received numerous honorary degrees from institutions as George Washington University, the Columbia School of Medicine, among others.[109]

In 2003, King was named as recipient of the Snuffed Candle Award by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's Council for Media Integrity. King received this award for '"encouraging credulity (and) presenting pseudoscience as genuine'".[110][111]


In July 2009, King appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, where he told host O'Brien about his wishes to be cryonically preserved upon death,[112] as he had revealed in his book My Remarkable Journey.[113] In December 2011, preceding a CNN Special on the topic, the Kings had a special dinner with friends Conan O'Brien, Tyra Banks, Shaquille O'Neal, Seth MacFarlane, Jack Dorsey, Quincy Jones, and Russell Brand where his intent to do so was reiterated, among other topics that were discussed.[114]

King has stated that his interest in cryonics is partly due to not believing in an afterlife or a higher power.[115][116] King says that he's an atheist,[117] and that he doubts religious claims, in part because of human suffering from natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.[118]

When asked what he'd like his legacy to be, King, referring to himself, said, "His life led to more people having information that they didn't have before, and he taught us a lot and we learned a lot and enjoyed it at the same time. He brought a great deal of pride to his business."[119]


  1. ^ abKing, Larry (June 1, 2016). "Larry King on His Path From Brooklyn to Beverly Hills". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 29, 2016.  
  2. ^Lindsay Goldwert. "Larry King and soon-to-be ex-wife Shawn Southwick had no pre-nup: report". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 3, 2017. 
  3. ^ abcAliza Davidovit. "Larry King". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ ab"Larry King Mutual Radio 1982". YouTube. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  5. ^RT schedule Click on America for RT America. Accessed September 15. 2013.
  6. ^ ab"The Nine Lives Of Larry King". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  7. ^ abLarry King Fast Facts CNN. May 5, 2013
  8. ^"Person Details for Jennie Gitlitz, "New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940" —". Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  9. ^[better source needed]"Larry King profile at". Retrieved February 15, 2008. 
  10. ^Bloom, Nate (April 18, 2008). "Celebrities". Jweekly. Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  11. ^Wenig, Gaby (November 14, 2003). "Q & A With Larry King". Archived from the original on March 24, 2004. Retrieved February 15, 2008. 
  12. ^Jason Gay (7 March 2013). "Larry King: Back in Brooklyn". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  13. ^"Larry King's Biography". Retrieved November 30, 2015. 
  14. ^ abc"Broadcaster's Hall of Fame biography". Archived from the original on February 1, 1998. Retrieved July 27, 2010. 
  15. ^King, Larry (2001). "Larry King on Getting Seduced". Blank on Blank (Interview). Interview with Cal Fussman. Los Angeles: PBS Digital Studios. Retrieved July 23, 2014. 
  16. ^"Larry King Biography". WhyFame. Archived from the original on April 10, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  17. ^Caitlin A. Johnson (February 11, 2009). "Larry King Celebrates 50 Years On Air". CBS News. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  18. ^Christina and Jordana (July 5, 2010). "Goodbye Larry King". Schema Magazine. Archived from the original on July 16, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  19. ^Pekkanen, John (March 10, 1980). "While Most of America Sleeps, Larry King Talks to Six Million People All Through the Night". People. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  20. ^"Legendary Talk Show Host Larry King Joins the Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co". Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. Archived from the original on December 14, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  21. ^Sargalski, Trina. "Key Facts Of Miami's Delis Of Yore, From Deli Historian Ted Merwin". Retrieved July 25, 2017. 
  22. ^"Pumperniks - Restaurant-ing through history". Retrieved July 25, 2017. 
  23. ^Larry King (May 5, 2009). "Excerpt: How I Became Larry King". CNN. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  24. ^Jon Bershad (June 30, 2010). "From the Mediaite Vault: Larry King Takes on Gangsters (and Loses) in 1961". Mediaite (blog). Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  25. ^"The Interview King". Academy of Achievement. June 29, 1996. Archived from the original on February 1, 1998. Retrieved March 3, 2008. 
  26. ^"Larry King – Talk Show Host". dLife. Archived from the original on December 17, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  27. ^"Larry King". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  28. ^ ab"The Nine Lives Of Larry King". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  29. ^"Listen! You're going to hear things you've never heard before". dcrtv. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  30. ^"Mutual Broadcasting System". Encyclopædia Britannica. 
  31. ^ abc"Midnight Snoozer". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  32. ^"The Gettysburg Times from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania · Page 13". Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  33. ^"Technical Correction / "The Numbers Guy" And Wall Street". SFGate. November 21, 2000. 
  34. ^King, Larry; Yoffe, Emily (July 25, 1984). "Larry King". Berkley Books. Retrieved July 25, 2017 – via Google Books. 
  35. ^Larry King BioArchived May 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  36. ^King, Larry. My Remarkable Journey. Google books. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  37. ^ ab"The Nine Lives Of Larry King". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  38. ^"Today's Talk-Radio Topic: The Future of Talk Radio". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  39. ^"Westwood One Ends Larry King Show Simulcast". Radio Syndication Talk. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  40. ^One notable guest is Sylvia Browne, who in 2005 told the Newsweek magazine that King, a believer in the paranormal, asks her to do private psychic readings. Setoodeh, Ramin (January 14, 2005). "Predictions: Jacko Convicted, But Blake Gets Off". Newsweek. Archived from the original on February 11, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2007. 
  41. ^ ab"The Man Who Can`t Stop Talking Starting In South Florida, Larry King Has Been Live And On The Air For More Than 30 Years. On Radio And Tv, When The King Of Talk Speaks, The World Listens". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2015-11-02. 
  42. ^Barry, Ellen (December 1, 2010). "Blunt and Blustery, Putin Responds to State Department Cables on Russia". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2010. 
  43. ^King, Larry (September 23, 2001). "A New York boy pays tribute, bids farewell".
King's mugshot from 1971 arrest in Miami
King with wife Shawn Southwick at a Beverly Hills gala, 2014
Larry King at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards