Larry King Live
By Elliot Goldenberg / April & May 2012

Long after his baseball-playing days were over, Joltin' Joe DiMaggio became better known to a younger generation as the pitchman for Mr. Coffee.

So will Larry King -- the quintessential TV and radio interviewer and host, whose work has been recognized with two Peabody Awards and ten Cable ACE awards -- become as famous himself for selling coffee as he is for coffee table chit-chat? A local visit gives us pause.

King is a true media icon who began his career as a local Florida journalist and, for more than 25 years, hosted the nightly TV interview program Larry King Live on CNN. But look at him now. King was recently in Delray Beach, signing books and coffee tins when The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Company -- a franchise started by King in Beverly Hills -- opened its new sister store, The Original Brooklyn Water Coffee Company, at 14451 South Military Trail.

Think of anyone famous and the 78-year-old King, who grew up in Brooklyn, has probably done the interview. He cut his teeth in South Florida as a young radio host, and, later, did color commentary of Miami Dolphin football games during the team's early years.

"Those were fun days," King recalled, "because we were a new team back then. The Dolphins came into the league with (owners) Joe Robbie and Danny Thomas. Few people remember that the team's first announcers were baseball legends Red Barber and Mel Allen." King said he later became friendly with another famed announcer, Marty Glickman, who called the New York Giants' football games. "Marty really hated Avery Brundage," King said, referring to the Olympics czar who kept Glickman, a world-class sprinter and a Jew, from competing in the 1936 Olympics hosted by Adolph Hitler in Berlin. King said Glickman, who called basketball games as well, also "invented" the greatest sports word that anyone has ever come up with. "That word was 'swish,' " said King.

Asked if he liked any movies recently, King named one with a baseball theme, Moneyball. He said he also enjoyed The Descendants and Midnight in Paris. When asked about his most difficult interviews, King said two quickly came to mind. One was actor Robert Mitchum, "who just gave me one-word answers." Another was Rock Hudson's ex-wife, Phyllis Gates. "I interviewed Phyllis for the inside story after Hudson died," King recalled. "She said she never knew he was gay, and she didn't know he had AIDS. She really knew hardly anything about him."

But, for sheer strangeness, nothing could top his interview with Libya's Moammar Ghadafy, according to King. "Ghadafy kept us waiting for an hour and a half," said the talkshow host. "Then, even though he had an interpreter, he did the interview in English. And he would have the interpreter answer the questions, but, before he could finish, Ghadafy would then answer in English, himself." During that interview, Ghadafy told King he had a solution to all the problems in the Middle East: "Just combine Israel and the Arab countries and call the new country Israelistan." "He was a strange man," King said.

King opined on who would win the next presidential election. He said he believes Barack Obama would be "hard to beat, because the Democrats are much more united now than are the Republicans." And, while Obama and Hillary Clinton buried their hatchet in 2008, King, on the eve of the Florida primary election, said he didn't see the same thing happening between Republican presidential rivals Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. "Certainly, there's no way they would make the other one his running mate," King said. "They really don't like each other." As for the overall political landscape in Florida, King quipped, "The coffee and the bagels here are a lot better than the politics."

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