Fans Recall Larry King’s Jewish Moments After Passing of Legendary Broadcaster
Following Larry King’s death on Saturday, fans remembered the longtime CNN broadcaster and iconic interviewer for the many Jewish moments throughout his life.
King’s media company, Ora Media, announced his death in a statement on Saturday. The Jewish TV legend, born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in Brooklyn, NY, had been hospitalized in Los Angeles with a COVID-19 infection and died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He was 87.
Jewish comedian and filmmaker Mendy Pellin reminisced on Twitter about how he met King at Dodgers Stadium and convinced him to film a promo for a Chabad Telethon.
This is what I filmed. And we ran these ads on CNN during his show. What really got him excited was the tag line I thought up on the spot: “Show me the mitzvah.” He loved it! pic.twitter.com/0B6AuC5Po6
— Mendy Pellin (@MendyTV) January 24, 2021
King donned tefillin in 2019 as part of a campaign honoring a Chabad rabbi suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In 2016, an autographed pair of his suspenders were auctioned to benefit the American Jewish Historical Society.
Some fans on Twitter remembered King playing an animated bee broadcaster in Jewish comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s 2007 “Bee Movie,” in a scene during which Seinfeld’s character pokes fun at the “very Jewish,” real-life Larry King.
Perhaps the most memorable Jewish-related highlight of King’s career took place on June 8, 1995, when he interviewed Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Jordan’s King Hussein together on his CNN show “Larry King Live” — an occasion he later called “one of the most historic nights I ever did.”
Amazing #larryking show in 1995- he hosted Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Afrafat and King Hussein together on CNN,an experience he later called “one of the most historic nights I ever did.” And i loved during another intvu he pointed to Arafat’s kafya and asked “what’s with the hat?”
— Elise Labott (@EliseLabott) January 24, 2021
Others on social media recalled King’s strong Jewish identity, calling him a “proud Jew,” and noted his support for Israel.
“Israel isn’t a symbol. Israel is the practical manifestation of hope, freedom, and self-determination.”
– Larry King
As we mourn the passing of legendary broadcaster Larry King, we recall his love of the Jewish state.
May his memory be a blessing.
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) January 23, 2021
King shared his thoughts on Judaism in a book edited by Judea and Ruth Pearl, the parents of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. In “I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl,” King said “I still consider it kind of a blessing to be Jewish. I am not religious … But I’m certainly culturally Jewish. I love the Jewish sense of humor. The shtick of the Jewish comedian burns in me. I love a good joke. I don’t mind jokes about Jews told by Jews. Jewish humor has become universal.”
King was honored at The Algemeiner‘s inaugural West Coast gala in 2019. Unable to attend in person due to a recent medical procedure, a letter written by him was read at the event.
“In my 62 years as a broadcaster, I have always tried to connect, educate, inform and inspire people through conversation — to help them see and hear the world around them in a different way, with compassion, through someone else’s experiences,” he said. “I’m proud, honored and humbled to be recognized.”