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Larry King tells why he changed his name
01:07 - Source: CNN

“When it first started rattling around my head that we’d be doing an interview show on CNN,” George Stroumboulopoulos said before welcoming Larry King as a guest on CNN’s “Stroumboulopoulos,” obviously I was very excited. And part of the reason was because you always want to be a moon that orbits around – or be a part of this incredible history. This network has tons of great moments and most of them center on the guy that’s gonna be in the red chair. He’s one of the great interviewers of all time – and I love him because he’s a radio guy.”

“You changed your name for television,” King said to Stroumboulopoulos. “His real name is George Clark.”

King took a moment to reflect on how he got into the radio business and why he changed his name.

“My name was Larry Zeiger, and it was May 1, 1957,” said King. “My first big day on the air and the general manager called me in. I had all my records prepared and he said ‘What name are you gonna use?’ I said ‘Larry Zeiger.’ He said ‘You can’t use that. It’s too ethnic. People won’t remember, won’t know how to spell it. You better change your name.’ So I’m sitting there. It’s like three minutes to go on the air. My lifetime wish and I’m having my name changed; and The Miami Herald was opened there was an ad for King’s Wholesale Liquors and he said ‘How about Larry King?’ I said ‘That sounds good!’”

A couple of years later, he legally changed his name to Larry King.

Stroumboulopoulos asked King, who currently hosts “Larry King Now,” an interview show on Ora TV, if people were surpried that he didn’t retire after leaving CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

“It was a strange set of circumstances,” said King. “One, I had wonderful 25-and-a-half years at CNN. I started at CNN on their fifth anniversary – June 1, 1985. They started June 1, 1980. We thought it would be a couple of years’ run. Ted Turner signed me and I had a great run. 25-and-a-half years, but as Colin Powell told me, ‘When the train comes to the last stop, get off. Don’t wait till it turns around and goes back.’ It was time. Certain things – it’s time. It was the longest-running show hosted by the same person at the same time.”

King admitted that there are things he misses about CNN.

“I missed it when big events happened. I remember being home the night Osama bin Laden was killed and I just wanted to jump up and run in because I’d had so many big events at CNN.”

King also took a few moments to reflect on his love of interviewing.

“But you do miss it,” he continued. “This is a disease. It is. This camera thing is a disease and you don’t know why it works or how it works or why they like you or don’t like you. It’s very subjective. Ted Turner had to like me. If he didn’t like me I would never have been on CNN. So you’re at the whim of others. And I always respected it. I always knew that I didn’t own that camera. CNN owns that camera, I don’t own it. Nothing is forever and I was always happy to be there. And I loved interviewing. You gotta love it. You love it, right?”

“Absolutely,” answered Stroumboulopoulos.

King told Stroumboulopoulos that the interview style that’s always worked for him is to leave himself out of the equation and never use the word “I.”

“‘I’ is irrelevant,” said King. “The guest counts. The shorter question is better than the longer question. If it takes three sentences, to me, it’s a bad question.”

On tonight’s show, King also opens up to Stroumboulopoulos about his family, losing his dad at a young age, his beliefs, and more. Catch the full interview at 11. Only on CNN.