Larry King accidentally rear-ended JFK

Ian Harvey
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Larry King is a well-known figure in today’s media. In his 60-odd year career, he has worked in television and on the radio. According to Biography, he was born November 19, 1933, as Lawrence Harvey Zeiger.

A chance meeting with a CBS announcer started his career when the announcer told him to go to Florida because they were hiring inexperienced broadcasters.

Larry King in March 2017. Photo by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 3.0

He went to Miami and got hired at WAHR, doing odd jobs around the station until one of their male announcers quit, and young Zeiger took the job.

Just minutes before his first broadcast the station manager decided he needed a new name, since Zeiger sounded too “ethnic.” The station manager chose King, after seeing an ad for King’s Wholesale Liquor, and Larry King was off and running.

King’s mugshot from 1971 arrest in Miami.

In his career, King did announcing and newspaper work before starting a nightly coast-to-coast talk show in 1978. His reputation grew, and Ted Turner hired King to do the first international talk show for the just-beginning Cable News Network (CNN).

He stayed there for 25 years, stepping down as host in 2010. King also appeared in several television shows and movies as himself and did voice work for a couple of animated films.

King was known for two quirks of his personal life: his wives, and his driving.

King during a recording of his Larry King Live program at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, in 2006.

King has had a total of eight marriages to seven different women. His first marriage was to his high school sweetheart at the age of 18, according to People magazine.

It was allegedly annulled by her parents the following year, as they didn’t approve. He married Alene Akins, a playboy bunny, twice; during the first, King adopted Alene’s son from her first marriage.

King with wife Shawn Southwick at a Beverly Hills gala, 2014. Photo by Neon Tommy CC BY-SA 2.0

The next time they wed they had a daughter together. Most of his marriages have been relatively brief, seven years or less, but he has been married to his current wife, Shawn, since 1997.

5 things you didn’t know about TV legend Larry King

In September of 2017, King was involved in a car accident in Beverly Hills. According to TMZ, the then 83-year-old King was seen assessing the damage to his Lincoln MK and to the Mercedes-Benz that was the other vehicle involved.

Although both drivers were looked over by paramedics as soon as they arrived, it was determined that neither driver was injured.

Larry King at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards. Photo by 70th Annual Peabody Awards CC By 2.0

Police said it was unclear who was at fault and didn’t issue a citation to either driver, although witnesses did say that King hit the other vehicle.

That wasn’t the first such accident that King was involved in. The first time Larry King was in a collision was in 1958. King told the story to Jimmy Kimmel in 2010.

Larry King. Photo by Thor Nielsen / NTNU CC BY-SA 2.0

King was a young disc jockey living in Miami. He and three of his friends decided to drive to Palm Beach, which none of them had seen before.

While gawking at the scenery, King accidentally rear-ended another car while coming up on a red light. What makes this story remarkable is that the driver of the other car was Senator John F. Kennedy. Kennedy got out of the car and asked “How could you hit me? It’s 10:30 on a Sunday morning, there are only two cars on the road. How could you hit me?”

Deborah Tannen and Larry King at an ASAE event at the Kennedy Center, taken on January 5, 2013 by DB King

King apologized and offered to exchange insurance information with Kennedy, but instead, Senator Kennedy had them raise their hands and swear that King and his companions would vote for him when he made his presidential run. When Kimmel asked King if he did, King said: “Of course I did!”

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In 2008 King and his then-wife, Shawn, were involved in another accident, but King wasn’t driving the vehicle. After finding out who he was, the people in the other car sued King for $50,000, claiming severe injury; but Kings wife strongly refuted that assertion, and said it was a frivolous lawsuit to get money from a celebrity.