Legendary talk show host Larry King is ending his 25-year tenure at the helm of CNN's "Larry King Live" tonight. From his first interview in 1985, with then–New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (D), to his seminal role in launching Ross Perot's 1992 presidential bid, through his 2007 chat with Oprah Winfrey when she endorsed then–Sen. Barack Obama for president, 77-year-old King has interviewed just about every A-lister in politics and entertainment. Commentators weigh in on his long career:
Larry King is the father of cable talk: King is "one of the most important pioneers of both radio and television talk programming," bar none, says Michael Harrison of Talkers magazine, as quoted in USA Today. "Larry King Live" single-handedly "established the genre of cable-news talk television as being one of the town meetings of America."
"Larry King's legendary run comes to an end on Thursday"
He overstayed his welcome: "'Larry King Live' has been a pillar of American culture" for 25 years, says Ed Pilkington in The Guardian, "as comforting and dependable as Mickey Mouse and Hershey. But even cultural pillars can grow structurally unsound," and recently King has become, in the words of media critic Mark Feldstein, "an almost vaudevillian relic of his past glory."
"Larry King to host one last show"
Cable left King, not vice versa: "It is easy to forget, amid the jokes about the suspenders, the many wives, and his advancing age," says Eric Deggans in the St. Petersburg Times, that King "was the most popular man on cable television" for a long time. If today's most popular voice in cable talk is "partisan bully Bill O'Reilly," it's not so much that King is leaving cable but that cable may not have room for a "softball"-lobbing "relentless schmoozer."
"King of cable to call it a wrap"
King knew how to get out of the way: Critics have dinged him for his soft-touch, "'let 'em gab' style," say Amie Parnes and Karin Tanabe in Politico, but King's approach helped him "land guests who shied from tougher interviewers." And because they were relaxed, the guests often opened up more than they would under tougher interrogation. If you want to see how influential King has been, just look at his guest list.
"The end of King's reign"
He was the road to redemption before Oprah: In its prime, says Lisa de Moraes in The Washington Post, "Larry King Live" was "one of the stations of the cross" on disgraced A-listers' "Road to Redemption." Its easy to roll eyes now, but "we will miss Larry's stupid suspenders. We will miss the way he, at times, has no idea who he is interviewing. There will never be another like Larry. Seriously — Ryan Seacrest is always too well prepped."
"We will miss you, Larry King"