CNN mainstay Larry King quitting after 25 years

Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:56am EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Larry King, the CNN personality known for his nonconfrontational interviews, colorful suspenders and complicated personal life, said on Tuesday he would end his talk show in the fall after a 25-year reign as a key promotional stop for the rich and famous.

King, 76, said he wanted to spend more time with his family. His seventh wife reportedly attempted suicide earlier this month after the couple said in April they would divorce.

But his show, "Larry King Live," is regularly beaten in the ratings, and his eclectic guest list often confounds viewers. CNN, which had been broadcasting for only five years when King signed on, has also lost viewers to Fox News and MSNBC.

The New York Times recently reported that his average nightly audience has been cut in half since the last presidential election in 2008, to just 725,000 viewers.

King, whose contract was due to expire in June 2011, said he would still host specials for CNN.

"With this chapter closing I'm looking forward to the future and what my next chapter will bring, but for now it's time to hang up my nightly suspenders," he told viewers.

King began his career as a journalist and radio broadcaster in Florida before being wooed by CNN to host the nightly TV talk show in 1985.

He said his first interview was then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and since then his guests have included a who's who of world leaders, celebrities and other newsmakers of varying import. One of his biggest scoops was in 1992, when Texas billionaire Ross Perot came on the show to announce a presidential run.

King recently hosted a telethon to raise money for victims of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and his show is a vital port of call for troubled celebrities, such as R&B star Chris Brown, seeking redemption.   Continued...