The end of an era: Larry King signs off after 25 years of hosting his chat show on CNN


He has interviewed presidents, royalty and news makers, but Thursday, after 25 years, Larry King was set to broadcast the final episode his CNN chat show Larry King Live.

Amid heavy security, King, 77, was scheduled to arrive at CNN's Hollywood studios late Thursday afternoon.

In fact, the last day of his show was so heralded, that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed Thursday 'Larry King Day'.

Amazing run: Larry King will broadcast the final episode of his CNN show Larry King Live tonight after 25 years

Amazing run: Larry King will broadcast the final episode of his CNN show Larry King Live Thursday night after 25 years

'Larry King has transformed himself into a household name. An indisputable legend in both the entertainment and media industries, King has changed the concept of the talk show within his lifetime,' a proclamation signed by Schwarzenegger reads.

According to respected media blog, Mediabistro, Schwarzenegger and former President Bill Clinton were among the 'surprise' guests scheduled to join King tonight.

Born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger on November 19, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, King became a television and radio icon.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed Thursday 'Larry King Day'.

His own day! California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed Thursday 'Larry King Day' in honour of the retiring host

King's father, Edward Zeiger, was a restaurant owner and defense plant worker, and his mother Jennie Gitlitz, was a garment worker.

Although King was raised in a strictly religious and observant Jewish household, in later life he turned his back on the faith and became an agnostic.

Zeiger died from heart disease at the young age of 44, forcing King's mother to go on welfare to support her two young sons.

After graduating from High school King started work full time to help support his mother, but he always knew he wanted to pursue a career in showbusiness or journalism in some way.

So man memorable shows: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has appeared on King's show many times

So many memorable shows: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has appeared on King's show many times

King began his boadcast career in the 1950s as a local journalist and radio interviewer in Florida.

He rose through the ranks to become a  prominent  all-night national radio broadcaster starting in 1978, and then, in 1985, began hosting the nightly interview TV program Larry King Live on CNN.

Over his expansive career he has earned an Emmy, two Peabody Awards and ten Cable ACE Awards.

King is set  to tape his final program tonight at 9 p.m. eastern time slot.

As soon as it ends, he will join his family, friends and CNN staff at a wrap party at Spago in Beverly Hills.

Angelina Jolie chatting with King on  Dec. 11, 2006

All the stars have sat down with Larry: Angelina Jolie chatting with King on  December 11, 2006

A who's who of television personalities have agreed to appear on the final episode of the show, including Bill Maher, Ryan Seacrest, talk show hosts Dr. Phil, Regis Philbin, Donald Trump, and comedian Jimmy Fallon.

They are to join King on set and via satellite at CNN's studios in California, New York and Atlanta, Georgia.

Several other high profile celebrity guests have also agreed to drop in and 'surprise' King.

In June, the television and radio icon announced he would end his run as the host of  the long-running program to spend more time with his family.

Wesley Snipes with his lawyer Daniel R. Meachum went on King's show last month to talk about the actor's talk troubles

Clear the air: Wesley Snipes with his lawyer Daniel R. Meachum went on King's show last month to talk about the actor's tax troubles

But there is widespread speculation that CNN pulled the plug because of his flagging ratings and well publicised marital problems.

The show currently ranks third in his time slot behind Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, the Associated Press said, adding that Larry King Live drew about 700,000 viewers in 2010, down from an average of 1.64 nightly viewers in 1998, the show's peak year.

Over the years, King has conducted some 50,000 interviews in a broadcasting career where he worked for decades in radio before joining CNN in 1985. 

Presidential: Over the years King has interviewed all the U.S. Presidents at one time or another as well as world leaders

Presidential: Over the years King has interviewed all the U.S. Presidents at one time or another as well as world leaders

During his two decades at the cable network, he has recorded more than 6,000 shows, consistently making headlines with such high-profile guests as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Marlon Brando, George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, Johnny Carson, Jimmy Carter and Roslyn Carter, Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bette Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Mark "Deep Throat" Felt, Gerald Ford and Betty Ford, Jackie Gleason, Mikhail Gorbachev, Billy Graham, Audrey Hepburn, Bob Hope, L.Ron Hubbard, Michael Jordan, Bobby Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ken Lay, Monica Lewinsky, Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney.

Richard Nixon, Al Pacino, Marianne Pearl, Prince, Barbra Streisand, Martha Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Thatcher and Oprah Winfrey were also his guests.

According to CNN: 'Larry King broadcast for 20 consecutive nights in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina. '

Brando

Memorable moments: The late great Marlon Brando gave a bizarre interview with King in 2005 which even resulted in a big kiss on the lips

'His post-disaster programming included interviews with more than 250 guests and a live, three-hour network special', the cable network wrote on its website CNN.com.

King has also been inducted into five of America's leading broadcasting halls of fame and and he has won the George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting.

The city of Los Angeles has named a street after him and a few weeks ago, the city tapped King to be Grand Marshall of the Hollywod Christmas Parade.

Larry King, who has been described as the 'Muhammad Ali of the broadcast interview' is believed to be planning some time off after his departure, but will still host occasional specials for  CNN.

Young whipper snapper: King as a fledging broadcaster 21 years ago, at an event in 1989

Young whipper snapper: King as a fledging broadcaster 21 years ago, at an event in 1989

British talk-show host and America's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan, 45, will take over King's coveted time slot in January.

Morgan has acknowledged that King's shoes are large ones to fill, quipping that it's like following 'Sinatra in Vegas'.

The former Daily Mirror editor has said that he wants the show to be 'provocative and challenging' and that he wants U.S. President Barack Obama to be one of his first guests.

In with the new: Former Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan will be taking over from King in January, something he says is like following 'Sinatra in Vegas'

In with the new: Former Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan will be taking over from King in January, something he says is like following 'Sinatra in Vegas'


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