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May 19th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

The King and I: CNN Style

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/19/art.vert.larry.king.jpg width=292 height=320]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/05/05/larry.king.book.radio/art.radio.jpg caption="Larry is featured on a WKAT radio sales sheet from the 1960s."]

Jack Gray
AC360° Producer/Writer

I remember the first time I saw Larry King in person. It was the summer of 2004 at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. “Mr. King!” I shouted as I chased him down the hallway and gently placed him in a headlock, “May I have a photo?” Ever the class act, he graciously agreed, though he drew the line when I asked to try on his suspenders.

It was a moment for which I had been waiting my whole life…or at least since my grandparents got cable. While other kids my age were busy developing social skills, I sat wrapped in a quilt watching Larry King interview Elizabeth Taylor and her jewelry.

Afterwards I’d go upstairs to rehearse what I’d say to Larry on the inevitable night when I’d be a guest on his show:

Hi Larry, it’s so good to be here. I love your glasses frames. What’s that? Is it true that I’m having an affair with Shannen Doherty? Now, Larry, you know better than to ask about my love life. How about we just take some calls?

During the commercial breaks Larry and I would relax because, of course, we were buddies off-camera. We’d smoke cigarettes and talk about our mutual friends like Jon Bon Jovi and Florence Henderson.

It was a golden age.

Fast forward to 2009 and I’m still in awe of Larry King. It’s cliché to say he’s an icon, but he is. The memorable moments are too many to count. Interviews with the biggest stars, debates among the most important politicians. And, of course, that time he made out with Marlon Brando.

Nowadays – two years into my job at CNN – I find myself playing it cool when I see Larry in the hallway. I say hello and he says hello back. Not because he knows who I am but because he’s a genuinely nice guy. And perhaps because he sees me eying his wallet.

By the way, I no longer have the need to chase Larry through the building and put him in a headlock. Though I will say I have found the headlock to be useful when Lou Dobbs gets rowdy in the cafeteria.

So, Larry, here’s to you. And congratulations on your new book “My Remarkable Journey.”

Even though I’m told the final version omits the chapter where I saved your life during that make-up room melee with Dr. Phil, I have no doubt that it’s going to be a amazing read.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some suspenders to put back.

Follow Jack Gray on Twitter @jackgraycnn

soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Alicia

    I enjoyed Larry King's new book. His book is easy to read and honest.
    The print size is wonderful–no reading glasses!

    May 20, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  2. Samantha

    Now, really. Who HASN'T made out with Marlon Brando?

    May 20, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  3. InsaneLoon

    Just watched Larry King chat w AC. He visibly lit up at your mention. Are you floating on a cloud!

    May 20, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  4. BonnieLovesColdplay

    Hello Mr. Gray!

    I always look forward to your blogs and Tweets! Your humor and witty words always brighten my dreary days.

    Thank you! Love you and your beautiful Lab Sammy!

    Bonnie in L.A.

    May 20, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  5. Don, WA

    Larry is the king who rolls up his sleeves. I've been a fan and listener of his for awhile. He seems a natural who if was'nt interviewing presidents and heads-of-state and found himself down and out, would be interviewing soup lines and spreading smiles and conversation from first in line to last. Because he is truely "bread and butter" – I can think of no greater compliment.

    May 20, 2009 at 2:10 am |
  6. Heidi Ann Berg

    great blog Jack .That was nice of you to say those things about Larry King .I like the name of his book,I hope to read it some time

    May 20, 2009 at 12:26 am |
  7. SFGal

    Love your blog...love your articles...and love your tweets! When are we getting married?

    May 20, 2009 at 12:21 am |
  8. Leslie Merrill

    Great blog... keep enjoying his company until he finally files for that restraining order.

    May 19, 2009 at 9:53 pm |
  9. Elizabeth

    Jack ,
    As usual your writing is incredibly funny. You make us feel like we are right there watching the goings on and laughing all the way. I am waiting for a book of shorts. Not twitter length shorts, not short shorts, not Bermuda shorts. Plain ole mid-thigh length would be fine. and this Larry King story should be in the book. You are lucky to have met Larry King and your piece shows that you know that well. Cheers!

    May 19, 2009 at 9:45 pm |
  10. Rachel

    Great Tribute, to the great Larry King..I love CNN, please keep up the EXCELLENT work, all of you

    May 19, 2009 at 9:37 pm |
  11. Vanessa, TX

    Hiya Jack..must be nice working with all these great anchor people.. 🙂
    LUCKY! LK is an icon..hope I get to meet him one of these days!

    May 19, 2009 at 9:36 pm |
  12. Nancy C.

    I agree with Marian above or below, wherever I end up...I think you should have your own segment on 360. The blog segment. But, only when you want to. We shouldn't force you to be funny for us. You obviously have a gift and it should be shared when you choose to share it.

    May 19, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  13. Krista

    Very nice (& funny) tribute to the one and only Larry King!! Good job Jack!

    May 19, 2009 at 7:29 pm |
  14. Marian

    Jack, you need your very own segment on 360; you at least would give us a good laugh every night to end the news day with.

    May 19, 2009 at 7:18 pm |
  15. Isabel

    Hi, Jack!

    Larry King is unique, special, wonderful!
    You too! I love how you put serious things in a fun and different way.

    Thanks!

    May 19, 2009 at 7:13 pm |
  16. Megan Dresslar - Shoreline, WA

    Hellooo Jack!!!!!
    Very funny man!!!! Congrats Larry for new his autograph biography book! I can't wait to read his book any where to buy! I can't wait see Dr. Phil, Joy, Regis and Anderson will interview Larry King on LKL and AC 360 tonight! He is really amazing man interview people I watch! I am so exciting for Larry King! I am really love his book! Thanks sharing with me, Jack! I am right now on Twitter. and see you tonight!

    Larry King!
    Congrats your new book biography! way to go! I am proud of you tonight! it made me laugh to read your book!! Congrats!!!!! Yay!

    May 19, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  17. Annie Kate

    Great post Jack. Glad to hear that Larry King is as nice as he appears to be on his show. He seems to know everyone, like everyone, and they like him. Quite a testament to Larry in a world where sometimes it seems that no one likes anyone else. I hope the king is here for a lot longer; evenings just wouldn't be the same without him.

    May 19, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  18. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Larry King's longevity and popularity in a field where both are extremely fickle says much about him as a person and journalist. He is indeed one class act.

    May 19, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  19. Rostana

    Oh my god! HOW FUNNY, lol!!

    May 19, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  20. shelly drori

    i heard the king was married 8 times! Jack, you have go a LOT of catching up to do! i mean, so far this month youve dated one girl in the checkout at wholefoods, and now you're hitting on new twitterers for drinks. not sure thats how Larry did it. Anyway. i believe you are going in the right direction of Mr. Larry, he's great, you're great, you cant go wrong.
    keepon tweetin

    May 19, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  21. Janice Silver

    Jack, you are so funny...are you sure you're not some kind of mutant?

    May 19, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  22. Mike

    Larry King is AWESOME...
    We can all learn a lot from this gracious man...
    Bless you always Larry,
    Mike

    May 19, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  23. michelle

    I'm an A.A. woman from the hood who LOVE Larry King back in the day & Now!!!! I would get teased Because I watched Larry King & Wolf too.

    May 19, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  24. Carol B. in MD

    P.S. i say this because life is short and Yul Brynner was gone too soon. It was an honor to meet during the play.

    May 19, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  25. Dorothy

    Hey Jack, you never cease to amaze and entertain me, to say nothing of the ever present laughs – Elizabeth Taylor and her jewelry indeed!!!

    May 19, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  26. Carol B. in MD

    Great blog! My younger sisters were actually in a production of "The
    King &I in New York. In some ways Larry is the "King" of late
    night. I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about until I watched him interview a variety of guests.He does have a gift for understated gab and putting his guests at ease. Long live The King.

    May 19, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  27. Lilibeth

    Larry King truly is one of the most remarkable figures of our time. His long and distinguished career is a testament to his abilities and personality as an interviewer and host. You can tell that his guests are always comfortable around him. I look forward to the show. Take care,

    Lilibeth
    Edmonds, Washington

    May 19, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  28. Alyzabeth

    Haha! I think Larry might also eye you suspiciously cause he knows one day you are poised to take over!

    May 19, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  29. Julie

    Jack–Your blogs are always the highlight of my day! This one does not disappoint!

    May 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  30. Alex

    Great blog Jack!
    I wanna try on his suspenders too someday even though I'm a girl. Is that bad?
    Do you give Anderson headlocks? That'd be funny.
    Jack, awesome blog! 🙂

    May 19, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  31. meenas17

    A slash of the episode ,a subte reference of how Jack saved larry king. and sudden hit on the omission of the incident , all call for a beautiful narration in a lighter vein,. Jack is a good story teller.

    May 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  32. gayle mccauley Malden,Mass.

    Nothing witty from me today Jack....Just a 'Thank You' for your tribute to Larry King, Jack Gray style.: ) He is an icon.I grew up watching him and all his guests share their wisdom and humor.I still look forward to his show every night....

    May 19, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  33. Sandra Robertson, GA

    Jack, you too should be on the show with the two Larrys tonight. Thanks for the laughs and Larry's book is in the mail to me, as we speak. I'm still looking forward to your future book ; you have started writing, haven't you? After all, you have taken some incredible journeys yourself.

    May 19, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  34. Pamina

    Great post Jack! I think you should pitch the idea of a weekly segment "Jack's thoughts". It would be very cool- and you could either wear suspenders, ties or hats, depending upon your mood!! Let us know what Anderson thinks about that!

    May 19, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  35. Pati Mc Camp Hill, PA

    Well done Jack and well deserrved Larry, I mean Mr. King. Oops!

    The funniest line in your piece 'And, of course, that time he made out with Marlon Brando." is all the more hilarious because for once it is not some silly line you made up, but is entirely TRUE. One of the best moments on TV ever.

    Happy Tuesday Jack – lovely tribute to a very special man. Cannot wait to read the book. Adding "Bookstore" to my list of errands for the day. Thanks!

    May 19, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  36. halloul hasan

    Jack you are amazing too, and i like Larry King he is one of the best in this work, love watching his show all the time.

    May 19, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  37. Kerri

    Jack,
    Happy Tuesday! I loved your post – you made me laugh out loud. I think I'll surf the net now and find you your own pair of suspenders.
    Have a great day.
    Kerri

    May 19, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  38. Anna, HK

    Bingo Jack!

    Your article is very timely... been thinking about making plans to go on holiday lately.... but with this flu thing around, better to stay put, & read about someone else's journey.... or jewellery.. better economics all around too.

    BTW, I can recommend a good book "How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere", if you still need work on your social skills.... The author's name escapes me......

    P.S. If I was you, I'd keep the suspenders....

    May 19, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  39. Eun Hye

    You had larry king on a head lock? Major LOL!

    Hey Jack, am one of your groupies but I don't have a facebook (don't want one either) so can't join. Just so you know.

    This one? FTW!

    May 19, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  40. julesgregory

    Funny blog jack, it's getting to where I prefer to read you with my morning coffee rather then my usual dismal horoscope. Well jack at least you didn't offer Larry King a dollar off coupon on his next box of Just For Men- Touch Of Gray in the hallway, I mean a man has the right to his idiosyncrasies~ You are an inspiration to me jack, you've always got new ground breaking clever thoughts coming out of your left field. You have a unique slant on your own words, they are always quick and packed with much laughter. Congrats to Mr. King on his new book. Someday you will be writing your own retrospective book, after such a long and successful careers journey.

    julesgregory

    May 19, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  41. Cindy

    Jack,
    Great piece of work yet again. You never disappoint! But it's got me wondering what's really going on up in that little head of yours that you come up with such crazy stuff! LOL HMM..maybe not much going on up there is the problem huh Jack? LOL

    Larry is a great person you can just tell by how he acts towards people. It's amazing that after all of these years he still is a great draw on TV. He seems to have the highest ratings still. That says a lot about him and his show when he's been on for so long yet can still pull' em in. Hopefully though Jack you won't be too hard on the man and please..take off those suspenders and put down Larry's mic. You've got a long way to go to fill those shoes! LOL

    Cindy..Ga.

    May 19, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  42. Susan Williamson

    Yesterday was my birthday and one of my gifts was an ordered copy of "My remarkable Journey". Looking forward to receiving it.

    Jack, good article. Both you and Tom Foreman made me smile this morning, without coffee! 🙂

    Take care.

    May 19, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  43. Karen Zappa

    Hi Jack,

    Thank you so much for making me laugh every day! I thoroughly enjoy your blogs, AND twitter updates (and just for the record, yes,you are still my favorite!)

    Karen

    May 19, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  44. Dilini - Colombo, Sri Lanka

    Larry King's so lucky to have you writing this for him! 🙂 I love how you laugh and poke fun at yourself.

    May 19, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  45. Kimberley

    Wonderful & witty blog as usual. A great dedication to a great icon. Can't wait to read the book.

    May 19, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  46. Patrick

    Another perfect piece of writing Jack.
    You capture the respect you have for LK, without it appearing too saccharine or stalkerish.

    Your blogs are definitely one of the highlights of my week.

    P.

    May 19, 2009 at 10:12 am |
  47. Brenda, orlando Fla

    GM Jack, i so look forward to reading your blog...don't ever stop.

    May 19, 2009 at 10:12 am |
  48. krowt

    Jack,
    You my dear are absolutely the best! I cannot wait to sign on to twitter everyday to get your updates...Like your admiration for LK...I hope I will one day have the opportunity to ask you for your autogragh or to let me try on your snuggie....Thanks for the laughs...

    Kirk

    May 19, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  49. Michelle D . Fonthill. Ont

    Hi Jack

    The story of Jack Gray and Larry King just hanging out with an icon eh ? That's so awsome Jack you've come a long way to just chasing after Larry at the convention .Larry is a true icon .I can't beleive you headlock him ,so what's Lou Dobbs getting rowdy and getting on a soapbox that's worth the price of admission . But you want a piece of that pie or suspenders in the sky ha!

    Great blog Jack
    Congrats to Larry on his new book and his incredible journey -way to go!
    Michelle D.

    May 19, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  50. Jennifer - Michigan

    Good morning Jack,
    Funny post! And that Marlon Brando moment – who could forget? Seriously though, Larry King is so cool. He seems like a real genuine nice person (down to earth). There's no one quite like him in the business. I try to catch his show as often as I can. Anyhow, hope your day is a good one today. Take care, talk to you later. Thanks for your post.

    May 19, 2009 at 9:54 am |
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