Drawn to the Radio
Larry King was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in Brooklyn on Nov. 19, 1933, the second son of Edward and Jennie Gitlitz Zeiger, immigrants from Austria and Belarus. Their first son, Irwin, had died earlier. A younger brother, Martin, became a lawyer.
Mr. King’s father ran a bar and grill, but worked at a defense plant after World War II began. He died of a heart attack in 1943, and the family went on welfare until Mr. King’s mother found work as a seamstress in Manhattan’s garment district.
Devastated by his father’s death, Lawrence, a good student who had skipped the third grade, neglected studies and listened to the radio — Brooklyn Dodgers games, “The Lone Ranger,” “The Shadow” and Arthur Godfrey, whom he worshiped. He graduated from Lafayette High School in 1951 with barely passing grades.
His 1952 marriage to Frada Miller was quickly annulled. Later, he was briefly married to Annette Kaye; they had a son, Larry Jr., whom Mr. King did not know about until 33 years later. In 1961, he married Alene Akins, who had a son by a previous marriage, Andy, whom Mr. King adopted; they were divorced in 1963.
He and his fourth wife, Mickey Sutphin, were divorced in 1966 after having a daughter, Kelly, who was adopted by her subsequent husband. In 1967, he again married Ms. Akins; they had a daughter, Chaia, and were divorced in 1972. In 1976, he married Sharon Lepore; they were divorced.
His 1989 marriage to Julia Alexander also ended in divorce. In 1997, he married Shawn Southwick; they had two sons, Chance and Cannon.