And it was also a major loss for pop culture.
King wasn’t just a talk show host on CNN for more than a quarter of a century. He was utterly ubiquitous, popping up on TV shows and in movie cameos throughout his long career. His oversized glasses and inquisitive style could be found in appearances in “The Simpsons,” “Ghostbusters,” and even TikTok, of all places.
King was simply one of pop culture’s favorite interviewers and newsmen.
His first notable appearance came in 1984’s “Ghostbusters” when King is included in a montage of the Ghostbusters taking down ghouls throughout New York City.
“Hi, this is Larry King, the phone-in topic today: ghosts and ghostsbusting,” he says. “The controversy builds, more sightings are reported, some maintain that these professional paranormal eliminators in New York are the cause of it of it all.”
King had plenty of other film appearances throughout his career, almost always playing himself. But not in the animated film “Shrek 2,” where he was the voice an ugly stepsister. (He also played her in two subsequent Shrek sequels.)
The stepsister works at “The Poison Apple” bar and helps the king of Far Far Away find an assassin that can take out the ogre Shrek.
“Hey, buddy, let me clue you in. There’s only one fella that can handle a job like that and frankly he don’t like to be disturbed,” says King, in his booming baritone.
“Shrek 2” wasn’t the only time that King got animated.
The host guest starred on a 1994 episode of “The Simpsons,” “Sideshow Bob Roberts,” playing the moderator of a mayoral debate between Joe Quimby and Sideshow Bob.
“A word to our audience, even though we’re being broadcast on Fox, there’s no need for obnoxious hooting and hollering,” he warned, before the citizens of Springfield began, yes, hooting and hollering.
Away from CNN, King — or at least people who pretended to be him — popped up frequently on the NBC variety show, “Saturday Night Live.”
The interviewer was impersonated by Fred Armisen, Norm Macdonald and Kevin Nealon, among others over the years.
King’s interviews, especially one of him asking Jerry Seinfeld if the massively popular “Seinfeld” was canceled, were shared endlessly on social media.
That was never more the case than last month, when a clip of King interviewing Danny Pudi, an actor from Disney’s “DuckTales,” went viral on TikTok.
In the clip, King asks Pudi if he enjoys any luxuries. Pudi says he enjoys coffee and socks, which leave King dumbfounded.
“Coffee and socks are not a luxury,” King says.
Pudi then asks King to give him an example of a luxury.
“Private plane,” King says dryly.
Pudi takes a beat.
“Larry, I’m on DuckTales,” Pudi responds.
On a personal note, Larry King was one of my favorite interviewers growing up, and a big reason why I wanted to work at CNN in the first place.
He was a brilliant interviewer who got the best tidbits from newsmakers simply by being himself and making everyone he spoke to feel comfortable enough to open up.
Those were the qualities that made him not only a great talk show host, but also one of film and TV’s favorite go-to newsmen. Oh, and not to mention, a cultural icon.