After a gala week marking his 25th anniversary in June 2010, King abruptly announced he was retiring from his show, telling viewers, It’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders. Named as his successor in the time slot: British journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan.
By King’s departure that December, suspicion had grown that he had waited a little too long to hang up those suspenders. Once the leader in cable TV news, he ranked third in his time slot with less than half the nightly audience his peak year, 1998, when Larry King Live drew 1.64 million viewers.
His wide-eyed, regular-guy approach to interviewing by then felt dated in an era of edgy, pushy or loaded questioning by other hosts.
Meanwhile, occasional flubs had made him seem out of touch, or worse. A prime example from 2007 found King asking Jerry Seinfeld if he had voluntarily left his sitcom or been cancelled by his network, NBC.
I was the No. 1 show in television, Larry, replied Seinfeld with a flabbergasted look. Do you know who I am? Always a workaholic, King would be back doing specials for CNN within a few months of performing his nightly duties.
He found a new sort of celebrity as a plain-spoken natural on Twitter when the platform emerged, winning over more than 2 million followers who simultaneously mocked and loved him for his esoteric style.