The "King" of Hearts: For Two Decades, the "Master of the Mike" Has Helped Hundreds of Individuals Receive Desperately Needed Treatment and Renewed Hope

By Perry, Patrick | The Saturday Evening Post, January-February 2008 | Go to article overview

The "King" of Hearts: For Two Decades, the "Master of the Mike" Has Helped Hundreds of Individuals Receive Desperately Needed Treatment and Renewed Hope


Perry, Patrick, The Saturday Evening Post


America's most popular talk show host, Larry King, is living the American dream, rising from anonymity and poverty as a child growing up in Brooklyn to international fame and fortune. Along the journey, King experienced his share of setbacks--some life-threatening. In 1987 after a day of marathon broadcasting and signature chain smoking, King suffered a major heart attack that led to quintuple bypass heart surgery.

The life-altering experience inspired King to snuff out his three-pack-a-day habit, adopt a healthier lifestyle, and launch the Larry King Cardiac Foundation (LKCF) to help people who, due to limited means or lack of insurance, are unable to receive desperately needed cardiac treatment and care. To date, King's foundation has raised millions for surgeries and other treatments to help needy adults and youth from around the world.

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The LKCF recently joined forces with the American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF) to spearhead the Campaign for the Future (see opposite page), addressing the looming shortage of cardiac care professionals--a major concern as baby boomers enter their senior years.

In addition to the launch of a new campaign, the writer and broadcaster recently celebrated another landmark--50 years in broadcasting.

Each weeknight, millions tune into the "master of the mike." As host of CNN's highest-rated program, King interviews a mix of athletes, actors, writers, politicians, presidents, and foreign dignitaries using his non-confrontational and no-nonsense style. Throughout his career, King has conducted more than 40,000 interviews, including sit-downs with every U.S. president since Gerald Ford, not to mention high-profile interviews with such notables as Tony Blair, Marion Brando, Johnny Carson, Bette Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Billy Graham, Audrey Hepburn, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Sir Paul McCartney, Eleanor Roosevelt, Tiger Woods, Jackie Gleason, Martha Stewart, and Elizabeth Taylor.

The Post recently reversed roles and interviewed "the master interviewer" about the new campaign, his foundation, and highlights from his long and distinguished career.

Q: We read that you recently underwent a carotid endarterectomy to open a clogged artery in your neck. Are you in good health?

I am. I exercise, watch what I eat, keep my weight down, and stay in shape. I'm very much in tune with pain. If I get a pain, I call the doctor. I'm 73 years old but don't feel it. I do my best to stay healthy.

Q: Why are you collaborating with the American College of Cardiology on the Campaign for the Future?

My heart situation brought me to this point. I received an award last year from the American College of Cardiology. My son, Larry King, Jr., is president of our foundation and my wife is chairman. We help people who can't afford various procedures. We're lining up with the American College of Cardiology, and we're going to support what they do in education. The Campaign for the Future has exactly the kind of foresight needed to ensure that there will be quality resources available for everyone. I am lucky that I have the resources available to battle heart disease, and I'm proud to lend support to programs like this to stop the number-one killer in America-heart disease.

Q: You've been very open about your health and other aspects of your personal life. Is there anything about you that people would be surprised to know, or are you pretty much an open book?

Most people would be surprised that when I go out and speak, I'm funny. I would have been a stand-up comedian if I didn't do what I do. I love making people laugh. When I speak at a convention, they usually think it's going to be serious and it isn't.

Q: If you had a totally free day with no obligations, how would you, Shawn, and the two kids spend it?

We like to do things together. We have lunch. We go to Dodger games a lot. …

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