Thursday, July 26, 2012

Truth Be Told by Larry King

I miss Larry King. And, I didn't think about it until I read his book, Truth Be Told: Off the Record about Favorite Guests, Memorable Moments, Funniest Jokes, and a Half Century of Asking Questions. When this book came out in hardcover last year, King admitted he still had people he would have liked to have interviewed after his show on CNN ended, and questions he would have liked to have asked.

Larry King never had a political agenda when he interviewed guests. He didn't put a negative spin on his interviews. He came from the same ordinary background as so many of his listeners did. And, he was curious. He always wanted to be in front of a microphone. King wasn't a tabloid journalist going after the sleazy questions. He was a curious man asking questions that would reveal the important aspects of his guests. I miss that. It's easy to come across the sleazy and negative interviews today. It's not so easy to come across an interviewer who is curious and fair.

The paperback edition of Truth Be Told has just come out. When the hardcover was released, King had left CNN, and he wanted to clear up some misconceptions. He spent a little time doing that. But, most of the book includes short pieces about some of his favorite interviews and subjects. The chapter about music is a treat for those of us who are fans of 20th century music. He covers Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Elvis, Garth Brooks. In fact, it truly is a time capsule of some of the prominent figures of the 20th century.

When I was asked if I wanted a review copy of Truth Be Told, I was also sent a piece that I was told I could use. If you miss Larry King, as I do, you might appreciate the piece. He's still curious, and still has people he would have liked to have interviewed. And, this book just makes me miss him and his curiosity all the more. Nothing could entice you to read a book more than words from the man himself. Thank you, again, Larry King, for twenty-five years of interesting interviews. I was in front of the TV to hear many of them.

Truth Be Told
By Larry King,
Author of Truth Be Told: Off the Record about Favorite Guests, Memorable Moments, Funniest Jokes, and a Half Century of Asking Questions
I was speaking at The University of Texas -- Pan American not long ago and a student asked me a question that had never been asked of me in more than fifty years of broadcasting.
"What fictional character would you like to interview?"
My first thought was Superman. Of course, there's the obvious question we'd all like answered:
Isn't it kind of incredible that after you took off your glasses no one recognized you as Clark Kent?
When I took off my glasses in front of the crowd at Pan American, they laughed. Hey, it's plain to see, I'm still Larry.
Dick Tracy is another fictional character I'd like to have had on Larry King Live. I would've asked him:
  • What made you so crazed about crime as to put all other things secondary? Did something happen in your childhood?
  • Why? Why only yellow coats?
  • Who gave you your watch?
  • How come your hat never fell off?
Then there's Hamlet.
  • Ever think you'd become famous?
  • Did you like what Bill wrote?
  • A ghost comes to talk to you. You bought that?
  • Did you ever just think it was your imagination?
  • Do you really speak that way? C'mon, speak to me real?
Over the years, people have asked about the subjects I always wished I had a chance to interview. Off the top of my head, there are three.
The first is Cuba's revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. I went to Havana to try to arrange an interview with him a few years ago. I was shocked to find out how many people in Cuba knew who I was. As I walked down the street, people ran over, screaming: Senor Larry! Senor Larry!
Unfortunately, the interview couldn't be arranged. But here are a few of the questions I would've asked Fidel:
  • Did you ever communicate with an American president?
  • Was your revolution a success?
  • How do you measure success?
  • How does it feel when your daughter speaks out against you?
  • What did you make of the fall of communism in the Soviet Union?
  • How has the blockade hurt you the most?
  • Did you ever think that the United States would change its policies?
Then there's Prince Charles. To be quite honest, I've never been a big fan of our shows on British royalty. Certainly, the death of Princess Di was a major new story, and we covered it thoroughly. But it seemed to me we did way too many shows on the royals than were necessary. I understand the appetite among the public for all things royal. But Prince Charles is a figure of interest to me simply as a man. I'd like to ask him:
  • How does it feel to have things given to you that others have to strive for?
  • What's the biggest burden of royalty?
  • In British history, is Gandhi a hero?
  • How do the British see Benedict Arnold?
  • How do you view prime ministers? Do you want to speak out more politically?
  • What are your thoughts on America?
  • What can you tell us from the heart about Lady Di?
Then, there's the Pope. I would've liked to have interviewed any Pope. Once, the producers at Larry King Live got a maybe from John Paul II, but it never worked out. If I could sit with Pope Benedict XVI, I'd like to know:
  • Did you want the job?
  • Did you lobby for the job?
  • What are the biggest failings of the church?
  • What was the most disturbing part of the priest/child molestation scandal in the United States?
  • In truth, how difficult is celibacy?
  • Will we have a black pope?
Ordinarily, at 78 years old, I might look upon these questions with sadness that they were never asked. But now that, my new Internet company, is about to get started, they just may. You never know . . .
© 2012 Larry King, author of Truth Be Told: Off the Record about Favorite Guests, Memorable Moments, Funniest Jokes, and a Half Century of Asking Questions

Author Bio
Larry King, 
author of Truth Be Told: Off the Record about Favorite Guests, Memorable Moments, Funniest Jokes, and a Half Century of Asking Questions, was the host of CNN's Larry King Live, the first worldwide phone-in television talk show and the network's highest-rated program for twenty-five years. the Emmy-winning King also founded the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars and provided lifesaving cardiac procedures for nearly sixty needy children and adults.

Truth Be Told: Off the Record about Favorite Guests, Memorable Moments, Funniest Jokes, and a Half Century of Asking Questions by Larry King.  Weinstein Books. 2011. ISBN 9781602861619 (paperback), 225p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Jane R said...

Larry King has had an amazing career. I think one of the reasons he is so successful is not only because of the way he interviews his guests, but also the type of questions he asks. His guests respond so well because his questions are thoughtful as well as insightful.

And, I had no idea he also has a foundation that helps people obtain cardiac procedures. I hope that if I reach the age of 78 I can be even half as energetic and engaged as he is!

Lesa said...

I agree with you, Jane. It's amazing what he does at his age. I didn't know about his cardiac foundation, either.

kathy d. said...

Great post. I, too, miss Larry King. I watched him all the time, unless he had a guest I just didn't want to see.
He is a very decent guy, always open to learning, very opposed to bigotry.

I love these questions he'd have asked of particular guests.

I do miss him. I'll have to read his book.

Lesa said...


I miss him because, actually, he was opposed to all those tabloid guests his network forced on him at the end. I appreciated the guests who actually had something to say rather than the tabloid chatter.