Veteran US broadcaster Larry King dies aged 87

King's career as a radio and TV host spanned six decades

Respected US television host Larry King died in hospital on Saturday morning at the age of 87, his media company said.

"With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles," the company said in a statement released on Twitter.

King was hospitalised with Covid-19 in late December. A spokesman said in early January that he had been removed from intensive care and was able to breathe on his own.

The announcement of his death drew messages of condolence from scores of ordinary fans as well as stars, including the actor Tony Shalhoub.

The Peabody Award-winning broadcaster was among America's most prominent interviewers of celebrities, presidents and other newsmakers during a half-century career that included 25 years with a nightly show on CNN.

"My duty, as I see it, is I'm a conduit," King told the Hartford Courant in 2007.

"I ask the best questions I can. I listen to the answers. I try to follow up. And hopefully the audience makes a conclusion. I'm not there to make a conclusion. I'm not a soapbox talk-show host... So what I try to do is present someone in the best light."

King's guests included US presidents dating back to Gerald Ford, international leaders such as PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and entertainers ranging from Bob Hope to Snoop Dogg.

In recent decades, he suffered a number of medical issues including heart attacks and diagnoses of diabetes and lung cancer.

Last year, King lost two of his five children within weeks of each other. Son Andy King died of a heart attack at 65 in August, and daughter Chaia King died from lung cancer at 51 in July.

A host of his interviewees and fans paid tribute to the veteran interviewer, sharing clips of his show online.

"You understood human triumph and frailty equally well, and that is no easy feat," wrote George Takei.

“RIP Larry King.. one of the only talk show hosts who let you talk," said former Cheers star Kirstie Alley.