“I was famous in Miami when I was 26,” Larry King recently informed New York's Steve Fishman. For his last night on CNN, it felt like all the suspender-clad host's high-profile friends called in to say good-bye. He was serenaded by Tony Bennett singing "The Best Is Yet to Come" from Louisiana. Arnold Schwarzenegger thanked him for moving his show to L.A., officially declaring December 16 "Larry King Day" in California. On the bottom of the screen, CNN ran messages from friends and celebrities, such as: "Jenny McCarthy: I'll miss your sexy ass." Even President Obama delivered a taped message: "You say that all you do is ask questions," Obama said. "But for generations of Americans, the answers to these questions have surprised us, they've informed us, and they've opened our eyes to the world beyond our living rooms."
But not everyone was sad to see him go: "What a slobber-fest! Save me from b.s. for a man who rarely asked a hard question in his career," wrote Deadline's Nikki Finke. And, on his show, David Letterman joked: "Larry King retired. Or, as his ex-wives call it, the day the money stopped. The last show was tearful he denied being a lesbian." Larry's last episode wasn't exactly a perfect swan song, either, according to the AP:
Regis Philbin appeared and sang two lines of a song, expecting King to pick up on it and join him, but King was stumped. Dr. Phil was cut off, almost in mid-sentence, because King said time was too short. The [Bill] Clinton interview was marred with uncomfortable silences and talk-overs because there was a brief delay in what King said and what Clinton could hear.
King referred to Clinton, without explanation, as a fellow member of the "zipper club," and the control room had to prevail upon the host to explain a few minutes later that it was a reference to the fact both men had undergone open heart surgery. "I'm glad you clarified that!" Clinton said to King.
Well, awkwardness is part of Larry King's charm. Check out this highlight reel from last night's episode — especially the ending, when Larry King's son does an eerily spot-on impression of his dad. Next generation!