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. Marie Anne Sam - Alabang in the Philippines

    Hiya JG,

    It's good to be back on AC360 - been hooked up with Mafia Wars online! - and what a way to get back but post comment on your another awesome, witty, pun-filled blog! - and this time it's Larry King 🙂

    And the well-loved, iconic Larry King is as popular as ever! 🙂

    May 21, 2009 at 4:30 am |
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