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When Larry King interviewed Dr. King ...


It wouldn’t typically be the kind of autobiography I would have read – or in this case, listened to – but Larry King: My Remarkable Journey was a pretty neat book, with my enthusiasm bolstered by a couple of points that I had long been aware of.

The famed radio and television broadcaster is from Brooklyn, with an affection and allegiance for the Dodgers that reminds me of some of my favorite Brooklynite pals, and more pointedly, he’s just a great baseball fan. One of his favorite songs in the whole world is Frank Sinatra's unmatched rendition of "There used to be a ballpark right here." Give me three beers and I'll sing it for you; a better bet might be to Google the song title on You Tube.

I hadn’t actually seen his CNN show much, but he’s such an iconic figure in the broadcasting realm that he appeared as himself in nearly 30 feature films, so I imagine there are a number of generations that know of him even if they never actually watched him or listened to him. I had read King’s column a few times when USA Today launched in the 1980s, but found it a little fluffy for my tastes.

His talk of growing up in Brooklyn and descriptions of his lifelong pals is one of the best parts of the book, along with various anecdotes from some of the giants (in this instance lower case, though he did interview Bobby Thomson in order to tell him he still hated him).

Perhaps the most interesting was a recollection that Larry gave of his interview with Dr. Martin Luther King (no relation). I’ll have to paraphrase here – that’s one of the shortcomings of audio books on CD – but Dr. King told his interviewer that the most important figure in the civil rights movement was Jackie Robinson, saying essentially that his historic breaking of the color line in 1947 was truly the starting point of launching the movement itself.

I was also touched by Larry’s account of how heartbroken he was in 1951 as Thomson’s “Shot Heard ’Round the World” devastated the denizens of the Borough of Brooklyn.

Nearly as intriguing was descriptions of eight marriages, which seemed to pop in and out of the narrative like editing marks on an unfinished manuscript.

Remarkable, indeed.