Larry King: Remember Him?

Columns - View Point

April 21, 2016

This may fall into the category of too much information (TMI), but PCT magazine’s editorial staff — Jodi Dorsch, Brad Harbison and yours truly — share an unhealthy affection for Larry King. Yes, that Larry King, the legendary broadcaster and longtime host of CNN’s Larry King Live. Despite your likely head-scratching response to this breaking news, please don’t judge! If you’re a fan or not, even Larry King’s most ardent critics would have to admit the guy has led a remarkable life. After his father died of a heart attack at 44, the Brooklyn native was forced to grow up fast, bypassing college to help support his mother before embarking on a storied broadcasting career that culminated in 10 CableACE Awards and induction into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame, while still finding time to get married EIGHT times to seven different women. And, at 83, in the latest iteration of his remarkable career, the ubiquitous Mr. King can be found hawking Omega inflammation pills on late-night TV or serving as Social Media Ambassador for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

As longtime print journalists, however, what our staff has found most enduring about King’s legacy is his USA Today column, which featured a combination of pop culture musings, celebrity name dropping, and random commercial endorsements, separated by a series of ellipses designed to give the reader time to fully absorb King’s unique world view. His column became such a part of the cultural landscape, in fact, that several years ago it received the high honor of being parodied by The Onion: “Hello, friends, just a few random thoughts from yours truly ... Five minutes with Walter Matthau is like 10 years in any Ivy League school ... Kudos to those fine folks who make Bugles so consistently delicious ... Boy, do I hate this shirt ... What’s that guy over there doing? ... The Amish make fine houses ... There’s nothing like breathable black dress socks on a sunny day ... Charles Kuralt has worn some of the finest sweaters known to man.”

Fortunately, despite the death of the column in 2001, King’s 10-second commentaries have experienced new life on Twitter, where the 140-character social networking site is perfectly suited for his pop culture musings. “I love Tweeting,” King told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. And we’re pleased to report King’s “Tweets” rarely disappoint: “On @WheelofFortune you keep your money no matter where you finish but on @Jeopardy only the winner keeps the money. Unfair! ... I’ve never been in a canoe ... Keith Urban does not look 48 ... The best peanut butter is crunchy ... I’m sorry to see #ThePeopleVsOJSimpson come to its conclusion ... I always make room for Jell-O ... Don’t try to talk to teenagers when they’re on their iPhones ... The microwave is still amazing to me ... I don’t think I’ve ever had goosebumps.” I mean really, does it get any better than that?!

While King has been quite vocal about wanting to be cryogenically preserved upon his death, the sad fact is that “Father Time” is likely catching up to Mr. King, giving us limited opportunity to express our “undying affection” for our idol. Therefore, here’s our homage to the larger-than-life King, a man we hope will one day be returned from a state of suspended animation to regale our children and grandchildren with his one-of-a-kind observations about the meaning of life: “Mike McCauley’s handshake brings tears to my eyes (literally) ... I don’t know about you, but the Zika virus scares the bejeebers out of me ... Harvey Massey’s voice is as smooth and silky as Harry Potter Butterbeer ... I prefer V-neck T-shirts over anything made by Under Armour ... If Bob Dold were running for president, I’d vote for him in a New York minute ... I can’t get enough of Little Debbie cream pies ... Ray Johnson can pick a guitar like nobody’s business ... If you looked up the word “class” in the dictionary, Bobby Jenkins’ photo would appear next to it ... Dr. Jerome Goddard’s sense of humor and Gomer Pyle-delivery when giving speeches belies the fact he’s always the smartest guy in the room ... Is anyone in the pest control industry cooler than Bert Putterman?” We kid you because we love you, Larry!

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One final thought ... as a lifelong Clevelander, I would be remiss in failing to acknowledge the obvious irony of Kyrie Irving being attacked by bed bugs in an Oklahoma City hotel while traveling with the Cavaliers earlier this year. After all, as much as I love them — and I do — Cleveland’s professional sports teams have been for more than four decades, so I viewed this most recent episode as industry “pay back” for the misery the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians have put me through all of my adult life, not that I’m bitter or anything.