Cropped screen grab from New York Times website.
In a New York Times Magazine profile this Sunday by Mark Leibovich, Larry King comes across as very focused on death. He is 81 years old, which as one point of comparison, is six years younger than Vin Scully. In the piece, the subject and writer have a meal at the Palm in Washington, talk about King's old show and Leibovich goes over King's current mini-gigs to try and keep himself in front of an audience. The only subject that was firmly off limits, the story says, was Piers Morgan, King's successor on CNN. A sample of the piece:
When you grow older, routines become important, King told me. Even to someone as emphatically nonreligious as he is, they can lend a measure of sanctity: the morning bagel quorum King leads with his old friends at the Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. near his home in Beverly Hills; his daily hairstyling appointment at the JosephMartin Salon (near the bagel place); his bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios with blueberries; his pills, parceled out by dosage (Lipitor, Plavix, fish oil, multivitamin tablets and human growth hormone). ‘‘I like the stability,’’ King said. ‘‘Don’t give me a surprise birthday party.’’
Like all old people, or so King claims, he likes to read the obituaries first thing every morning. God’s box scores. He can’t turn away. People might learn about someone who died at the age of 88, or 89, and say, ‘‘Oh, he lived a long life.’’ But that’s not how King views it. ‘‘I think, That’s only seven or eight years off for me,’’ he said. There were some 78s and 79s in the paper that morning. He shook his head. Negative math is terrifying.
King is fixated on dying. Everyone is, to some degree, but not like him. Shawn King, his seventh wife, told me that Larry talks so much about his demise that he started to upset their teenage sons, and she had to tell him to knock it off. ‘‘He kept saying, ‘Listen, I’m not going to be around much longer, boys,’ ’’ Shawn said. ‘‘ ‘Whatever you do, don’t let your mother put me in a home.’ ’’ Recently, Larry and Shawn met with some insurance and lawyer types to go over their family trust. They were talking about his will and who got what and the tax ramifications. ‘‘After about 20 minutes, I said, ‘Wait a minute,’ ’’ Larry told me. ‘‘I won’t be here when this happens. I won’t exist. Everything in that conversation had nothing to do with me.’’
Over the quarter-century that he hosted ‘‘Larry King Live,’’ King was always asking his guests, ‘‘What do you think happens when we die?’’