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Personal Growth

Truth Be Told: Lessons Learned from a Half-Century of Asking Questions

I was speaking at The University of Texas — Pan American not long ago and a student asked me a question that had never been asked of me in more than fifty years of broadcasting.

“What fictional character would you like to interview?”

My first thought was Superman. Of course, there’s the obvious question we’d all like answered: Isn’t it kind of incredible that after you took off your glasses no one recognized you as Clark Kent?

When I took off my glasses in front of the crowd at Pan American, they laughed. Hey, it’s plain to see, I’m still Larry.

Dick Tracy is another fictional character I’d like to have had on Larry King Live. I would’ve asked him:

  • What made you so crazed about crime as to put all other things secondary? Did something happen in your childhood?
  • Why? Why only yellow coats?
  • Who gave you your watch?
  • How come your hat never fell off?
  • Then there’s Hamlet.

    • Ever think you’d become famous?
    • Did you like what Bill wrote?
    • A ghost comes to talk to you. You bought that?
    • Did you ever just think it was your imagination?
    • Do you really speak that way? C’mon, speak to me real?
    • Over the years, people have asked about the subjects I always wished I had a chance to interview. Off the top of my head, there are three.

      The first is Cuba’s revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. I went to Havana to try to arrange an interview with him a few years ago. I was shocked to find out how many people in Cuba knew who I was. As I walked down the street, people ran over, screaming: Senor Larry! Senor Larry!

      Unfortunately, the interview couldn’t be arranged. But here are a few of the questions I would’ve asked Fidel:

      • Did you ever communicate with an American president?
      • Was your revolution a success?
      • How do you measure success?
      • How does it feel when your daughter speaks out against you?
      • What did you make of the fall of communism in the Soviet Union?
      • How has the blockade hurt you the most?
      • Did you ever think that the United States would change its policies?
      • Then there’s Prince Charles. To be quite honest, I’ve never been a big fan of our shows on British royalty. Certainly, the death of Princess Di was a major new story, and we covered it thoroughly. But it seemed to me we did way too many shows on the royals than were necessary. I understand the appetite among the public for all things royal. But Prince Charles is a figure of interest to me simply as a man. I’d like to ask him:

        • How does it feel to have things given to you that others have to strive for?
        • What’s the biggest burden of royalty?
        • In British history, is Gandhi a hero?
        • How do the British see Benedict Arnold?
        • How do you view prime ministers? Do you want to speak out more politically?
        • What are your thoughts on America?
        • What can you tell us from the heart about Lady Di?
        • Then, there’s the Pope. I would’ve liked to have interviewed any Pope. Once, the producers at Larry King Live got a maybe from John Paul II, but it never worked out. If I could sit with Pope Benedict XVI, I’d like to know:

          • Did you want the job?
          • Did you lobby for the job?
          • What are the biggest failings of the church?
          • What was the most disturbing part of the priest/child molestation scandal in the United States?
          • In truth, how difficult is celibacy?
          • Will we have a black pope?
          • Ordinarily, at 78 years old, I might look upon these questions with sadness that they were never asked. But now that, my new Internet company, is about to get started, they just may. You never know . . .

            Larry King, author of Truth Be Told: Off the Record about Favorite Guests, Memorable Moments, Funniest Jokes, and a Half Century of Asking Questions, was the host of CNN’s Larry King Live, the first worldwide phone-in television talk show and the network’s highest-rated program for twenty-five years. the Emmy-winning King also founded the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars and provided lifesaving cardiac procedures for nearly sixty needy children and adults.

            © 2012 Larry King


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