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Katie Couric Interviews Larry King

Aired May 2, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Katie Couric -- she's the first woman in broadcasting history to...
KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, Larry.

Not tonight.

My show, my open.

Tonight, it's all about "The King" -- 50 years of unforgettable interviews with presidents, prime ministers and royalty, celebrities, news makers, even a few journalists. His favorite and least favorite interviews, the most memorable moments, the most embarrassing ones and the real deal on those trademark suspenders.

We'll cover 50 years in 60 minutes.


COURIC: No, not that "60 Minutes" -- next on a very special LARRY KING LIVE.

Larry King -- 50 years in broadcasting.

First of all, congratulations.

KING: Thank you, Katie.

I'm thrilled that you're doing this.

COURIC: Well, I'm thrilled to be sitting here.

How does it feel being on the other side?

KING: Weird.

COURIC: It does?

KING: You know, when you're sitting in one place or here at CNN 22 years and I ought be, you know, see how -- it's just weird.

COURIC: Well, let me start by asking you to use one word to describe your career. You've done 40,000 interviews over the course of 50 years, some 300 million broadcast words, by one calculation.

What one word would you use to describe this whole crazy ride of yours?

KING: Compelling. I -- I've had a -- a joyous ride for 50 years. It's what I always wanted to do. It's what I dreamed of doing. When I was five years old, I'd look up at the radio and imitate the radio announcers. I'd pretend that it was my show. I would go and -- honest to god -- in my bathroom go: "This is the CBS Radio Network. And now a tale well calculated to keep you in suspense."


COURIC: When you were just five?

KING: Five, six. I'd imitate anything I heard. I'd go to ball games and broadcast the game to myself.

So I'm living out a dream. In fact, the last time I worked was 50 years ago for the United Parcel Service. I was a helper on the truck. I was a delivery boy. And then I went down to Miami and broke in.

So I -- compelling fits it.

COURIC: Why do you think, Larry, in a business that can be pretty tough, you have endured for so many years?

KING: Oh, that's hard to self-examine. It's a good question. I don't know.

First, I've had supportive management, pretty much all the way, from the first people that hired me who liked me, to the Ted Turners, to the current group at CNN, to the people in radio all those years. So they were -- they let me -- they let me be me, which is the key in this business. And I think I've always been me. And I think that comes through to people.

COURIC: We have some celebrity questions tonight.

One is from Stephen Colbert of "The Colbert Report."

KING: I was on his show.

COURIC: And, as you might expect, it's a question of sweeping scope.

Stephen asks: "Larry, you have conducted thousands of interviews over the years. Tell us about them."

In an hour.

KING: That's Colbert. I was on his show. I had a lot of fun with him. You know, the secret on that show is to go with him.

COURIC: Right.

KING: You know, people go on and think, well, I've got -- I've got to be this, I've got to be that. Just -- back to be yourself. You go with him. That throws him. If you -- if you -- he's an act. You know, Colbert is...

COURIC: Right. I did his show, too.

KING: He's...

COURIC: And I...

KING: He's a pretend.

COURIC: ... I tried to go with him, as well.

KING: He's a pretend host. That's what he is. You pretend guest. Go with that flow.

COURIC: I know.

KING: But a lot of people, they don't know.

COURIC: When you see people who don't...


COURIC: ... it's always awkward, right?

KING: It's embarrassing. And these politicians, I don't know how they -- they sit there with this why do you favor rape?


COURIC: Now, comedians can be notoriously difficult to interview.

KING: Yes. Yes. You've got to get at them the right way. The mistake a lot of people make is, one, the host tries to be funny, therefore they're ha, ha, ha, and then we'll all have laughs.

Most comedians -- if you get at it at the right way, if you think funny -- I think funny. When I do speeches, I only talk funny. I only tell funny stories. In fact, second -- if I wasn't doing what I'm doing, I would be a standup comedian, because I love comedy and I like comedians because they're basically kind of sad.

There's something about them. They have such an appeal. They have such a need. I know that need for sympathy.

COURIC: The love me need?

KING: Yes, love -- that's what they have.

COURIC: Well, there's one comedian who loves you and he's on the phone right now.

Caller, are you there?

JAY LENO: I am here!

COURIC: I think you need to say a few more things.

LENO: All right.

I did a joke about Larry the other night. I said Larry is celebrating his 50th year in broadcasting, plus he had to wait 25 years for TV to be invented.

KING: Jay Leno.

LENO: Hello, Larry.

KING: Hello, Jay!

LENO: How are you?

KING: It's been ages since you've done this show.

LENO: Well, it's been ages since I've done every -- anything. I just kind of just -- I just kind of do my show. But we'll get together.


KING: Thank you, Jay.

I'm really thrilled and I like -- I like the way you announced my 50 years the other night. That was really thrilling.

LENO: What did I say?

What was it -- I had...

KING: Yes, what you said was he announced my first phone call, which was...


KING: ... Alexander Graham Bell.

LENO: ... can you hear me?


LENO: And then the other joke I did, I said the two oldest people in the world met recently, two women. One was 113, one was 114. It broke the old -- the old record of the two oldest people meeting when Keith Richards was interviewed by Larry King. I think that was the other one.


COURIC: I hope you delivered it a little better than that, Jay.

LENO: Yes, yes. But... KING: Oh, Katie hitting Jay.

COURIC: It's early out there, right, Jay?

LENO: There's correct. It is early out here. I got up extra early to call in on this.

COURIC: But this is the day when -- this is actually a week -- actually a month, a year, perhaps, at CNN where we're saying nice things about Larry, so...

KING: For one week they're saying nice things.

LENO: I...

COURIC: ... tell us, Jay, why you think...

LENO: I didn't even know he had passed away. I feel terrible.


COURIC: Why do you think he's such a terrific interviewer?

LENO: Well, because he appears to lifelike. When you see him on TV, it's amazing.


COURIC: Oh my god.

LENO: Now, you know -- you know, Larry is a good listener. And like he said, he is the perfect kind of guy for comics, because most times -- a lot of times when interviewers try to interview comedians, they will listen to the comedian and instead of just asking a question, they'll go, "So, Jay, have you been to McDonald's lately?" and try to lead into your McDonald's (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And then you're going this awful.

Whereas with Larry, Larry just talks to you. You know, there are some people -- it's like whenever Jerry Seinfeld and I get on the phone, we always leave with more material because we go back and forward.

KING: Yes.

LENO: And when you talk to Larry, you go back and forward. You don't really have a script. He isn't -- he doesn't say, OK, ask him about this routine, which will lead into the joke about his wife lying on the airplane. You just sort of have a discussion.

And then Larry is the kind of guy, he just -- he gets comedians to write on the air. You just start thinking funny when you talk to Larry because, A, he listens, and he laughs at the joke. So as a comic, that gives you the kind of thing to move on to the next thing.

And he's a good audience. KING: I'm really happy for Jay Leno's success because Leno, you know what he is?

A regular guy.

COURIC: And he's such a nice guy, too.


KING: Now he -- what you see is what you get.

LENO: It's the ammonium...

KING: He is a regular -- he's...

COURIC: We love you, Jay.

And you need to come back on Larry's show.

LENO: Oh, I'll get on one of these...

COURIC: I think he's doing a little booking.

LENO: ... days. I just haven't done anything in a while, so...

COURIC: Yes, whatever.

KING: Come on, Jay. Stop.

LENO: I'm just kind of keeping my head down and...

COURIC: Doing your job.

LENO: Write joke, tell joke, get check.

COURIC: Well, you're doing a great job every night. And thanks for calling in, Jay.


COURIC: I was happy to hear from you, too.

LENO: And congratulations, Larry.

KING: Thank you, Jay.


KING: I really appreciate it. You're my man. Thank you.

LENO: Bye-bye, you guys.

COURIC: Bye, Jay.

All right, Larry King, this is your life.

We're going to have more of Larry on the hot seat, right after this.


KING: What do you make of all the rage over the "N" word?

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: So, I didn't know.

KING: Are you offended when you hear it?

ROCK: When I hear it from you.





KING: I hear you calling.

BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: Let's go to the phones.

KING: No. Wait -- wait a minute.


KING: Hold it. Let me ask some questions, OK?







UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Conan, were you at Brookline High School?




KING: You're just kind of a regular guy.

LENO: Oh, just a regular guy. That's right, Larry.

KING: Why is this...

LENO: Looks and rudes (ph). KING: What...





"JIMINY GLICK": And how did it -- you walk into (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with all that -- that lack of hygiene (ph).

What was that?




KING: No, I think we're out of time.

LETTERMAN: Oh. Thank god.

KING: Anyway...




KING: Throwing it to him?

I can't picture that.

PRES. RONALD REAGAN: Well, yes, sitting at the desk with the -- and throwing him across the desk the reading glasses and the -- to avoid them.

KING: Your dander does get up?

REAGAN: Oh, yes.



KING: How did you emotionally hold up through all of that?


KING: I know.

But how?



KING: Well, wouldn't you rather be popular?

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm -- well, look, I mean I -- I, you know...

KING: I mean we all want to be popular.

BUSH: Well, you're a guy who relies on ratings, I guess. No wonder you're asking about the popularity question.



KING: Is it hard to drive by the Watergate?

PRES. RICHARD M. NIXON: Well, I've never been in the Watergate, so it's not a hard (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Never been in it?

NIXON: No, not at all.


NIXON: No, no, no. Other people were in there, you know, unfortunately. And so...



COURIC: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, celebrating 50 years of broadcasting for Larry.

And now one of my very favorite people is on the phone and I know that you like her enormously, as well.

Caller, you're on the air.



KING: It's Nancy Reagan.

COURIC: Absolutely.

REAGAN: You're right.

KING: Oh, I'm thrilled that you would -- you would be in on this show, Katie, hosting it and this being my week. You're one of my favorite people. Nancy has become a great friend of ours in California.

REAGAN: Well...

KING: Shawn and I and the kids and -- we enjoy having her over. And she's a -- she is a truly great lady.

REAGAN: Oh, that's nice.

Now, listen, it's time for everybody to be saying nice things about you.

So what a thrill for you this must be, Larry.

KING: Yes, it is. It's a -- it's a pinch -- a pinch myself kind of thrill, you know?

Fifty years is a long time.

COURIC: And, Nancy, I know that you've been interviewed several times by Larry over the years. And I know he -- as we just saw -- interviewed President Reagan twice, as well.

What do you think makes him such a -- a pleasure to talk to?

REAGAN: Well, I suppose because I -- I once said to Larry, I think we were there at your house, Larry -- how can you go from one subject to another in so -- seemingly so effortlessly?

I mean I just don't know how you do it.

And he said, "I'm curious. I'm just curious."

And I suppose that's right. He is curious.

KING: Well, you know, I was that way, Nancy, as a child. I wanted to know why the bus driver wanted to drive the bus. I would -- I'm...

COURIC: You were interviewing at an...

KING: Yes.

COURIC: ... early age.

KING: I'm the kind of person you didn't want to sit next to on an airplane.



KING: I drove you crazy. I was just -- of course -- it just -- I just wonder about what is it like? What does it mean to be this?

COURIC: Nancy, I know you have mixed feelings sometimes about being interviewed.

And what -- what is it about Larry that makes you feel so at ease?

REAGAN: Oh, I -- it's just Larry. You just -- you just feel at ease with Larry. He's a very easy interviewer, for me, and I'm sure for everybody.

KING: Thank you.

COURIC: So nice to hear from you, Nancy.

Thanks so much for calling in.

REAGAN: It's good to hear your voice, Katie.

KING: She has such great stories. You know, when you sit around with Nancy -- not to like throw names, but I've become very friendly with her. I interviewed her husband twice, went to lunch with him once. It was a funny lunch.

You want to hear that story?

COURIC: Yes, sure.

KING: Nancy and Ronald and I -- it was before I met Shawn, so I wasn't married. And we go to the Belaire Hotel for lunch. And as we're walking in, a couple are getting married. It's a wedding. And they look up, "Look who's here!"

So we wound up in the wedding party. We took wedding pictures with them.

COURIC: You did?

KING: Yes.

And then the president -- I never saw a guy enjoy a hot fudge sundae like he enjoyed a hot fudge. I mean he cleaned it up.

COURIC: Let's talk about what made Larry Larry.

We talked about what makes Larry Larry as an interviewer, but what made him as a man?

You grew up in Brooklyn. And I know you recently went back to your old neighborhood.

KING: I did. I went back to the house I moved to when my father died. My father died when I was nine-and-a-half, and we moved to Bensonhurst because my mother's sister lived there and she helped get us an apartment.

COURIC: What was it like going back there, Larry?

KING: Well, I've taken my kids back to show them where I grew up. They say you can't go home again, but with Brooklyn, you can.


KING: This is where I grew up, 2136 83rd Street. My father died when I was nine years old and the family moved here. My Aunt Bessie lived across the street in that house. She lived in the second floor. We lived in the top apartments here, the little -- those three little windows up there?

That was our attic apartment. The rent was $34 a month. But these are the streets I strolled, the house I grew up in. My junior high school was on the corner, my high school was a couple of miles away.

It was a great place to grow up. We were poor. We didn't know we were poor. It was Brooklyn. It was Brooklyn. I left Brooklyn, but Brooklyn never left me.


KING: It was a very special place. Nobody got divorced. Your neighbor was always your neighbor. The guy down the street was always the guy down the street.

Who left?

Nobody ever left until you got to be 21 or 22. I left when I was 23.

COURIC: Would you say you had a tough childhood?

KING: No. Not -- tough from a financial standpoint. When my father died, my mother had me and my brother, who was three years younger. He was six-and-a-half. I was nine-and-a-half. My father died suddenly.

COURIC: Of a heart attack?

KING: Of a heart attack.


COURIC: He was just 44.

KING: Yes. He had no money so we were on relief. Now it's called welfare. We were on relief for three years. New York City bought my first pair of glasses. They had to give you a slip. The relief inspector gave you a slip and you'd go down to Bush Opticians on 14th Street and I thought -- and it was a wire rim. Now they're in.


KING: Now, then they knew you were poor.

But we were poor and every kid in our neighborhood -- Bensonhurst was like middle class and so all my friends were kind of -- had a little more money than I did. I -- I don't remember holding a $20 bill until I was like (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

COURIC: But your mom must have been an amazing person, right?

KING: She was. She was. You would have loved her.

COURIC: Jenny.

KING: Jenny. You would have loved Jenny.

Jenny was -- she loved her kids and she raised us. She never remarried. She -- after three years when my -- we got a little older, she was able to go to work. She was a seamstress. She worked hard.

I remember my father, very well, too. He was a tough Austrian immigrant. But Jenny was -- she was a piece of work.

Jenny was -- how much did she love us?

Let's see, if I blew up a bank -- if I blew up a bank, right?

Killed some people and blew up a bank and they to Jenny for an interview as they arrest me, "Jenny, what do you make of this?"

Maybe they made a mistake in his account.


COURIC: She got to see you launch your successful career in radio?

KING: Yes, she did, in Miami.

COURIC: And...

KING: And television.

COURIC: ... died in 1976.

Do you still miss your folks?

KING: Every day. I talk to my brother a lot. We missed him. He doesn't remember my father too well. He was six-and-a-half. I remember my father. I remember his voice. But I think of my mother every day, because she was so thrilled with what -- with what happened to me and what -- you see it was just -- she was in Miami the last eight years of her life. I was on radio and television. She would -- she went to the butcher shop one day and I went over for dinner in her little apartment. She lived in the same building as Don Rickles' mother, Mel Brooks' mother. They all were there.

And she puts down lamb chops and says, "Do you like these? They're good. Yes. Do you know how I got them?"

"No." "I went to the butcher shop today and I asked the man, these are the only lamb chops you have?' And he says, 'That's all I have, lady. That's all I have.' And I said to him, 'Perhaps you know my son, Larry King.' That's how I got these lamb chops. You don't know how big you are."

COURIC: We'll be back with more right after this.


KING: What, in your area of study, Stephen, do we know the least about?

PROF. STEPHEN HAWKING: We are tantalizingly close to a complete unified theory, but we might be miles away or barking up the wrong tree.



CARL SAGAN: That's why improving our ability to see faint or distant objects can open up, maybe, most of the universe.



KING: CDs will become obsolete, right? What's -- what's it going to be like? How are we going to be entertained?

BILL GATES: Well, great thing that...

KING: And how far away is this?

GATES: Well, I'd say in the next five years, entertainment will be redefined.



MATTIE STEPANEK: And my poetry is about all kinds of different things. And the big thing is peace. And I talk about peace in many different ways so that everyone likes it, it appeals to all people and so that everyone understands it.




KING: Early on, when you were just The Beatles in little clubs, you were good?




KING: You always thought you were good, right?

BONO: Yes.

KING: Right. Right.

You knew you were good?

BONO: No. Great.

KING: Great?




KING: Why do you have one name?

MADONNA: As opposed to what?

KING: Two names. Like, I don't know, you know, Madonna...

MADONNA: Ciccone.

KING: ... Liebowitz (ph).

MADONNA: That's good. That's good. I like that.



KING: You ever do a concert in light blue?



CASH: I've never done a concert in anything but black.

KING: Are you a clothes freak?

CASH: When you walk into my clothes closet, it's dark in there. Dark.

(SINGING): I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down.


COURIC: When you look at clips like that, do you think, man, I am so lucky?

KING: Oh, boy, is that the -- that's the word -- lucky. Paul Newman said to me once, "Anybody -- you, me, anybody who's successful in any business who doesn't use the word luck is a liar."

Luck played a part in it. Somebody had to like you. You had to make a left turn, right turn that was the right decision for you. That was lucky.

COURIC: Tell me about when you started doing interviews at Pump -- Pumpernick's in North Miami, right?

KING: In Miami Beach, 67th and Collins. I was doing this morning disk jockey show. And the owner of Pumpernick's, the late Charlie Bookbinder, he liked me. And he -- he -- that was a very successful 24 hour restaurant, packed.

But the slow period was like 9:00 to 11:00 in the morning. So he wanted a morning coffee klatsch show. So he liked me a lot. So I would finish my radio show at 9:00 and then drive up to Pumpernick's and go on from 10:00 to 11:00 and do this interview show.

And I'd interview -- at the start we had no producer. It was just a fly off the pants show. They doubled my pay. I was making $50 a week from the radio and he gave me $50, so I made $100. And...

COURIC: When was this?

KING: 1957-58.

And then people would start coming in, you know?

And I'd interview businessmen at conventions and...

COURIC: Wasn't your first interview a waitress?

KING: A waitress was the first. You know, I got the maitre d', anybody. And then one day I'm looking up and Bobby Darin -- Bobby Darin, "Mack The Knife" was the number one song in the country. He walks in. He was singing across the street and he was going to the airport to pick up Sandra Dee, who was coming in. And he had heard the show the day before. He was an early riser.

So he came on.

Then Ed Sullivan came in. Danny Thomas. And then one day I'm sitting -- I'm doing the interview -- "Good evening, good morning, folks."

And all of a sudden I look up, Jimmy Hoffa.

Jimmy Hoffa!

I couldn't prepare because I didn't know he was coming. The Teamsters were in convention. A couple of them were local guys. They liked me. They brought Jimmy in. I brought Jimmy up on the air. And he did things -- you'd never know about Jimmy Hoffa. There were about 80 people in the room. And he said I'll tell you what I'm going to do when we start. He goes around the whole room and meets everybody, right?

"Hello, hello, hello, hello."

And then at the end of the interview, he remembered every name.


KING: He said he's had that knack all his life. And he described what's it like to be a loader on trucks and why he carried -- why he never sat in the back of a limousine, things I remember about that. Gee.

COURIC: I was going to say, you must have an incredible memory...

KING: I do. I can...

COURIC: ... to be able to recall that.

KING: ... pick things out -- I can still see the scene. My god!

Then when he got out of prison, he came on my show.

COURIC: What makes a good guest?

KING: A good question.

Four things. You want passion, an ability to explain what they do very well, a little bit of a chip on their shoulder and a sense of humor, hopefully self-deprecating.

If you have a sense of humor, a chip on the shoulder, explain what you do very well and passion, you're a great guest if you're a ballet dancer or a singer or a president.

Sinatra had all four.

COURIC: I was going to say, I get three of them.

But the chip on the shoulder?

KING: Oh, Frank had that, because you want a...

COURIC: But -- but why?

KING: ... you want a little anger.


KING: You want a little meanness. For example, Hoffa had three of the four. Jimmy didn't have a great sense of humor. But he had a -- he had a -- he didn't have a great sense of humor, but he had a great chip -- a chip you liked, because you mentioned Robert Kennedy and you'd see that anger right into him and still the fists clenched, you know?

You like that.

But Sinatra had all four.



FRANK SINATRA: If everybody were really legends, we'd have nobody -- no normal people in the world. Everybody would be a legend.

KING: Yes, but you know you've gone beyond Estrada (ph). You're in another...

SINATRA: Oh, I've got to be...

KING: You're in another ball park, Frank.

SINATRA: Yes. I agree with that. And there's a very good chance that I probably should have gotten out by now. But I enjoy it.


COURIC: He's your all time favorite guest, isn't he, one of them?

KING: Yes.

COURIC: Top ten?

KING: He'd be way up. The top ten easy, because he was hard to get. And because he liked me and therefore he did me in radio a few times. And Gleason helped get him for me. And he did. The last television interview was done right here in New York on CNN and he sang to me in the Green Room, one of the thrills of a lifetime.

COURIC: What did he sing?

KING: "Remember," the old Irving Berlin song.

I'll tell you what he did. We're sitting in the Green Room and there was a tribute to Irving Berlin.

And he says, "I had to sing 'Remember.' And I had a tough time, because (SINGING) -- 'Remember the night, the night you said I love you. Remember?'

And I'm sitting there grinning.

And he goes, "You see, I did what anyone would do." He said: "I called Pavarotti."

Yes, sure. That's what I'd do. I call Pavarotti and Pavarotti says, "Frank" -- and this is just what he -- the way he described it, "Frank, this is an angry song. This man is angry. This man is hurt. Hit the burr in 'Remember."

So don't sing it (SINGING) 'Remember!"

That made the song. That's the way I thought about it.

COURIC: Well, I think you're an excellent guest, by the way.

KING: Thank you.

COURIC: And I'll be able to ask you some more questions in a moment.


KING AND MARLON BRANDO (SINGING): I had a date with an angel, and I'm on my way to heaven.



KING: So she can carry a gun good as any mother's son.

GEORGE BURNS: Say it again.



KING: Why do you like being other people?

BETTE DAVIS: Well, probably because I'm not so crazy about myself.



KING (SINGING): So she can carry a gun good as any mother's son.

BURNS: You're singing my part.




BRANDO: When the chapel bells ring out.

KING: I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse.



KING: We are out of time, Princess (ph).


SINATRA: Thank you.

I had a good time. I enjoyed it. Any time. Just call me and I'll come running.




KING: Good day, my name is Larry King and this is the premiere edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." Every night at this time we'll be here for one hour. We're going to meet fascinating people from all walks of life, talk to them about things they are interested in. I'll ask some questions. We'll take some calls. We hope that you enjoy this kind of alternative to primetime programming rather than murder, mayhem, sex and violence. We'll bring you all of those but disguised as talk with questions.


COURIC: Let me ask you about your style because I did a little research and people have used adjectives like conversational, easy- going, nonjudgmental. But I was curious how you would describe your interviewing style.

KING: I'm intensely curious. I have no agenda. I've never gone into an interview saying, "I'm going to kill this guy or I'm going to praise this guy." I have gone in trying to learn. What I've tried to do is ask short questions. I leave me out of it. I don't use the word "I."

COURIC: And in fact you don't want to be too prepared. I know that if somebody is coming in about a book, you don't want to necessarily read every page of the book because then you'll know so much more of your viewer, right?

KING: Right. Correct, absolutely. I learned that a long time in radio. If I'm ahead of the audience, ahead of the audience, they haven't read the book. Let's say you come on, my book, "Katie Couric: My Life." Katie, on page 103, they said -- they haven't read the 102 pages. I'm already asking about 103, I think I lose them. To me it's always been -- I know I've been criticized for it, but I have never seen everyone that read every book.

COURIC: Does the criticism hurt?

KING: It did in the beginning. It doesn't anyone. You know when you're call softball. I have never heard -- I don't know what that means. I have been termed softball but I've never heard someone give me an example of what is a softball question. I don't know what that is. A good question is a question to which I don't know the answer.

COURIC: I'm going to do a little word association, guest association. You can just give me a quick sentence about what they were like. Elizabeth Taylor?

KING: Rambunctious.

COURIC: Really?

KING: Oh, bell of the ball, sit down.

COURIC: So she had a lot of pluck?

KING: Pluck! Whoa!

COURIC: That's a good word, isn't it?

KING: Pluck.

COURIC: Christopher Reeve.

KING: Sad. I felt sad because he was so eloquent and such a good guy and -- he's the classic example of why do bad things happen to good people.

COURIC: So courageous, wasn't he?

KING: Good person, good, good heart.

COURIC: Angelina Jolie.

KING: Two different people. The first time I had her on; she was with Billy Bob Thornton and she...

COURIC: And the blood vial.

KING: The blood vial and I'm sitting there talking to the person and we're doing close-ups of blood vials. And the last time when her most recent movie was out and she had become completely different, of course, involved in world affairs. And I like Angelina Jolie and I think she's an extraordinary talent.

COURIC: Robert Mitchum.

KING: Drove me nuts sitting right here.

COURIC: Very monosyllabic I heard.

KING: Here's Robert Mitchum. We're going to start the interview and I said, "Can I call you Bob?" And he says, "Can I call you Lar?" And then we start. Anything I asked was one word, yep, no, maybe, yep, no, yep.

COURIC: Oh, my gosh, what did you do? KING: What it was like working with John Huston, the great director? Seen one, seen them all. Leave me hanging. I said, "Are you telling me that John Smith would be the same as John Huston?" Yep, do your work, go home. I'm asking him things like what do you think of Al Pacino? Don't know him. Don't you go to movies? No, can't get a parking space.

COURIC: That must have been a long hour.

KING: No, no, we did him for a half hour. I had to cut him off. But I was asking him things like, what did you have for dinner? When we finished, he says, "How did I do?" How did I do? And then they tell me we're going to have him back. He got a good rating.

COURIC: Think we should go to a commercial now.

KING: Yes, go.


KING: Yes.

COURIC: We'll be right back.


KING: Why you have finally come?

AL PACINO, ACTOR: Come here?

KING: Yes, finally, after years of asking.

PACINO: Senility, I guess.

KING: Are you a strict Catholic?

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: Yes, real Catholic too, Latin masses too. (SPEAKING IN LATIN).

KING: Do that again. I like it.


KING: You've carefully avoided ever discussing your personal life. Hasn't that been -- and we've had some cute exchanges over the years, so I'm not going to get involved. I know I don't need this. It's only a living.


SHARON STONE, ACTRESS: If you need me to do it, I'll do it.

KING: Don't be cute! Just...



MICKEY MANTLE, BASEBALL LEGEND: By the time I got to New York, they thought I was Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio all rolled into one. You know they called me the phenom.

KING: I remember.

MANTLE: And I was only 19 years old. And the biggest crowd I'd ever played before was like 500 people.

KING: When along the way did you say, I think I want to do this for a living?

TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: You know I never did. That's kind of strange to say that, isn't it? I never did. I just wanted to keep playing and competing.

KING: I mean did you know that you were above your competition? Was is that feeling like, to soar?

MICHAEL JORDAN, PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: Well, you really don't know, I mean, until you see it back on film, what you have done.

KING: So while you're doing it, you don't know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A spectacular move by Michael Jordan!


COURIC: What a thrill to be able to interview those folks. Who you say that sports figures are among your favorite guests?

KING: They are my favorite because I'm a sports freak. The first thing I turn to every day is the sports pages. George Will, the wonderful writer, told me once that he's such a sports fan that if the headline in "The Washington Post" was "George Will's Secret Sex Life Revealed," he would first turn to the Cubs' box score.

COURIC: You know we talked about Frank Sinatra being among your top 10 favorites. Can you name a couple of other interviews you really loved?

KING: Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt. COURIC: Eleanor Roosevelt?

KING: Yes, when I just started, her son was mayor of Miami Beach and I was like 24 years old. And he said, "My mother is coming in. Would you like to interview her?" I said no and I interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt, tough cookie.

Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Barry Goldwater, terrific interview. All of these people had the qualities you want.

COURIC: In fact, I know you believe many of your views about race came from your interviews with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. KING: Malcolm X taught me -- even though you know I thought I was pretty liberal, he said, "What do you think it's like to not see yourself on television? You're a kid and you're 8 years old. You're never in the Cheerio commercial. There's no black Santa Claus on Fifth Avenue. What do you think that's like? You're an invisible kid. What do you think that's like?" It made me think.

COURIC: We've got some celebrity questions. Ellen DeGeneres has a question about call-ins. She says, "When you're at home and phone rings, do you shout out 'Newark, New Jersey, you're on the air?'"

KING: I just did Ellen's show and she's coming on, I think, our show next week or the week after. She's a riot. She's doing a show in bed now. She sprained her back or something. She fell down so she's got a special bed she's doing her show in. I like Ellen.

COURIC: What is the advantage of having viewers call in, in your estimation?

KING: It's always been part of my shtick. I did it years ago on radio in Miami. I think it just adds to the flavor of the show. It just brings in a nice...

COURIC: You get impatient sometimes with callers.

KING: Oh, yes, but -- well, a caller has to understand something. When a caller comes on -- no, serious, you can't go on forever. You can't make a speech because you're a part of the show. And when you come on, I have to judge you. Is this a good -- I have the same job as the "Letters to the Editor" page editor in the newspaper. He doesn't print any letter. And if a letter comes in that's seven paragraphs and he likes two, he's going to edit you. That's what it is.

COURIC: We've got an email question, kind of like a caller. Mary Jane of Potomac, Maryland, "When did you first start wearing suspenders? Are they truly functional or basically fashion decoration?"

KING: I started wearing them after my heart surgery in 1987 and they looked good. All I had to hear what a couple of people call in and say, "That looks good." So I've been wearing them ever since. They are a fashion decoration and they do hold the pants up better. But I wear them with everything. I wear them with jeans. I just like them.

COURIC: How many pairs do you have?

KING: Probably 100. People send them to me. I had a guy in Ghana make some for me, very nice. They're a nice feeling. I think they're a nice look. I'm not a jacket kind of guy. I used to wear half sweaters. If you see my early work, it's half -- what are you laughing at?

COURIC: No, no, what is a half sweater?

KING: It's a sweater without sleeves.

COURIC: Oh, a sweater vest! Half sweater, OK, I got it.

Well, you know, you...

KING: Ah, this Park Avenue crowd.

COURIC: I've been on your show a few times and you have mocked my changing appearance through the years. And I decided turn about is fair play.

KING: Oh, no.

COURIC: So let's take a look at Larry King through the years.



KING: The phone rings and I pick it up and I'm a little nervous. Hello? And his voice is, Larry King, it's Marlon. I said, "Marlon who?" I swear to God. And he goes, "Marlon Brando." He says, "I'm going to send a car for you. It'll be downstairs in about 20 minutes." So I go downstairs and who pulls up but Brando in the car, driving a white Chevy, like a Chevy Nova. I get in the car and we start to drive doing songs, like he would do the first line of a song and I had to do the second.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The duo took their show on the road, well, at least to the bright lights of Larry's set.

KING & MARLON BRANDO: I've flown around the world in a plane I designed the revolutions in Spain.

COOPER: Before the show was over, the songbirds were in lap lock. The kiss became a king classic.

BRANDO: Good-bye.

KING: Good-bye.

I kissed my brother on the cheek and I've had friends hug me but he's the only man that every kissed me on the lips and I can't stop thinking about him.


COURIC: We're back with Mr. Larry King. One of your most acclaimed show was back in 1993, the NAFTA debate between then Vice President Al Gore and Ross Perot. I think it was one of the highest rated CNN shows in history.

KING: The highest CNN show and the second highest cable show ever.

COURIC: How did that whole thing come about? KING: Well, there was a big debate going on in America about NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement and -- free trade, I'm sorry, and the administration was obviously going to lose this one, Clinton. I mean they were in big trouble. And one morning -- early in the morning, I get a call from Al Gore, vice president of the United States, and he said, "You know the NAFTA debate is coming up in three or four weeks. And I'd like to debate Ross Perot on your show." I said, "You're kidding." You know the sitting vice president is going to debate an ordinary citizen? That's all Perot was?

Yes, I called Wendy Walker, our producer, and said let's put this together. At first, they were going to do it down in Tampa. And then worked it out and did it in New York, at our other studios in New York but it's this same setting.

And the amazing thing about that debate was we knew the audience would be incredible. The newspapers were covering all of it. And now they come in. Al Gore came with the whole White House: David Gergen, Stephanopoulos, everyone here. Perot came with one friend from Texas.


KING: And Perot took it casual. I mean I know the subject. It's going to be no problem. But Gore was a debater in college, you know. So Gore went -- I'll never forget, before we began, Gore went over to one of the cameras. He leaned against the cameras. He put his head on the camera and then he came over and sat down. And Perot looked around. I'm looking and I said, "What was that?" And he said, "I said a prayer."

And then we began. And Gore took it from the opening -- took the picture of the old two congressman and he just -- I like Ross a lot. We're friends but Gore just owned the night. I mean he took the attack -- took the offense and never lost it.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: How do you stop that without NAFTA?

ROSS PEROT: Just cut that out, pass a few simple laws on this...


PEROT: ...make it very, very clear...

GORE: No, how do you stop it without NAFTA?

PEROT: Give me your whole mind.

GORE: Yes, I'm listening. I haven't heard the answer, but go ahead.

PEROT: That's because you haven't quit talking.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: In fact, it was so bad, about the fourth or fifth break, Perot -- because they were going back and forth like this and Perot says, "You're a liar, right?" And I go, "We'll be right back." And I got to sit with the two of them.

COURIC: What was that like about the commercials, by the way?

KING: We talked about the weather. We made a rule that nobody could come in and talk to them during the breaks. So no aide could come in and help.

Anyway, NAFTA changed in a day. The whole thing changed. It passed and President Clinton called me up the next day, you know in that Clinton tone, "I owe you big time." And then he reminded me, "I was the only one that agreed with Al to go do that. Everyone else didn't want him to do that but I agreed."

COURIC: You must have been proud of that show.

KING: I sure was. I was proud that we were part of an historic evening of making news, sure.

COURIC: When you interview people, Larry, like presidents, prime ministers, do you feel an additional pressure because this is about history and really important issues?

KING: I don't know if it's additional pressure but I feel its importance. You know I know that something could be said that could change things. I'm aware of that. But once it starts, you can't think that way. It's still who, what, when, where, why. Why did you do this? Why are you going that? If you start putting pressure on yourself, I think you affect it too much. I try -- I'm sure, obviously it's different, but I try to make it less different because the best thing comes out of good conversation. If something is going to happen, it's going to happen.

COURIC: All right, we'll be right back.


KING: What was that moment like when they said, "Life in prison?"

NELSON MANDELA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA: We were triumphant because throughout that trial we used the courtroom as a platform to address the country and the world.

KING: Most little girls don't grow up to be prime minister. We have yet to have a little girl grow up to be president. When did you know you were different?

MARGARET THATCHER, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: That's a strange question to ask and at the moment I have to think.

KING: What happened? You tell me, what happened with the submarine? VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It sunk.



COURIC: And we're back with this very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Very special because I get to interview the King and we wanted to mention there's a DVD of the greatest interviews available online. And a lot of people will enjoy watching this because it really will be a walk through history.

KING: We had a lot of fun putting it together in three different takes; we have world leaders and celebrities. It covers so many bases. And what's added to it is I put at the end of each tape, personal reflections...

COURIC: Great.

KING: ...of things that happened.

COURIC: And I understand the first 100 callers get free bamboo steamers and Ginsu knives, is that true?

You decided to go back in cable, back when cable was really in its infancy.

KING: 1985.

COURIC: How long do you think you'll want to do this? Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide has said -- quote -- "Larry can sit in his chair as long as he continues to perform." For as long as...

KING: It's one of those...

COURIC: ...whatever that means.

KING: In whose opinion, right? It's like the owner of the Cardinals; Augie Bush said to Whitey Herzog, the manager, "You have a lifetime contract." And Whitey said, "Whose life, mine or yours?"

But he was very auditory that day, Jim, and they're already talking about an extension. And yes, I'm 73. I can keep on going. As long as I love what I'm doing and I like the people I work with, I like the kind of show we do, I like living in L.A. You know I've got two little buys.

COURIC: How are they? I'm sure people would like to know how your sons are doing.

KING: They're all right. You'll see them tomorrow night. There's a two hour special on and they're on, in which my 8-year-old said, "The best thing about my father is he's patient." Now, where did he get that from? The kid's a little liar already.

COURIC: Now, how old are they now? They're 8... KING: Eight and the other one is going to be 7 on the 22nd of this month. And they're great little kids. And I have three grown.

COURIC: I was going to say your children really run gamut.

KING: Yes, expand.

COURIC: How old is your oldest child?

KING: Fifty.


KING: So I get -- but I get to -- you know we go to school with them every day and I play with them. They're really into baseball. They go to all of the Dodger games. And they're terrific little kids. They're what it's all about, isn't it?

COURIC: If you had -- yes -- if you hadn't done this for a living, what might you have done other than work for UPS?

KING: You know I really don't know. I had no particular talent at anything else. I didn't go to college. I just got out of high school. I got out of high school by the skin of my -- I got out of high school by my mother begging the dean, let him out. I was not a good student.

After my father died, I lost all interest in school. I don't know what I would have done. That's a very good question. I have no idea what I would have done, maybe stand-up comedy, you know, because I liked that so much. I don't know how I would have gotten into it. But there was nothing else I wanted to do but communicate.

COURIC: Speaking of stand-up, we have a question from Jerry Seinfeld. He's been a guest on your show many times. And he asks, "What do you think the cowboy boots do for you appearance wise?"

KING: I think they change my image. I think they...

COURIC: Give you a little height.

KING: ... they give me a little height and they add to the -- you know, the Jewish boy from Brooklyn. It's not the Jewish boy from Brooklyn kind of image. But I did -- one of the proudest awards I got a couple weeks ago, I got the True Grit Award from the John Wayne Society. And if ever a guy didn't deserve an award, it was the True Grit Award from the John Wayne Society.

COURIC: What are you looking forward to in the future?

KING: Katie...


KING: ...I'm 73. You know what I'm looking forward to? Living!

COURIC: Would it be (inaudible) to say, don't buy green bananas?

KING: That's right, and no 30-year mortgages.

COURIC: Well, congratulations, Larry, really, truly on 50 great years. Here's to 50 more. What do you say about that? Hey, it could happen!

KING: It could happen. My wife says -- Shawn says, you'll live another 50 years. I don't think so.

COURIC: Well, hopefully a good long time.

KING: Thank you.

COURIC: Thank you, Larry.


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