What You Didn't Know About Larry King's Children

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A powerful voice in broadcast journalism was silenced on January 23, 2021, when the world learned of the heartbreaking death of Larry King. As reported by ABC News, King had been hospitalized for COVID-19 several weeks earlier (this being shortly before the vaccine became widely available). At 87, King had seemed indomitable, having already survived a major heart attack, lung cancer, and a stroke (via Reuters), but his age and medical history no doubt complicated his fight with the coronavirus. 

King held the Guinness World Record for hosting the longest-running TV show on the same network: "Larry King Live" was a part of the lives of millions of viewers from 1985 to 2010. During that time, he conducted some 50,000 interviews, per BBC, including the Dalai Lama, Margaret Thatcher, Vladimir Putin, John F. Kennedy Jr., Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Donald Trump (pre-White House), Frank Sinatra (who almost never gave interviews), and every sitting president between Gerald Ford and Barack Obama.

Occasionally, King would leave the broadcast booth long enough to pursue other projects. In addition to his cameo in the original "Ghostbusters," King made numerous TV and film appearances, including "Frasier," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," and "American Crime Story." King also appeared in the "Shrek" film series as Doris, the Ugly Stepsister, per IMDb.

King was almost as well known for his personal life as his interviews; the journalist was married eight times (twice to the same wife), and had five children. So, what do we know about all of them?

Larry King didn't know about his namesake son for decades

The fatherhood saga of Larry King sounds like fodder for one of his talk show episodes. At the time of his death, he had three living children, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. However, for much of his life, King never realized one of his children even existed.

King's second marriage was a short one, to a woman named Annette Kaye. It produced a son, Larry King Jr., but King himself wasn't aware of it until many years later. He once told the New York Post, "I knew there was a Larry King Jr. out there, I'd heard that, but I didn't know he was mine." The truth finally came out in 1994, when Kaye, then terminally ill, reached out to her ex and let him know that he had an adult son.

Happily, the two Larrys met and made up for lost time. Larry Jr. even served at one point on the board of the nonprofit Larry King Cardiac Foundation. When King died, Larry Jr. gave an interview to People in which he shared fond memories of going to Los Angeles Dodgers games and playing impromptu basketball games with his dad on his front lawn. 

"What we can all take away from our father's last time with us was his love of life," Larry Jr. concluded. "He had an indomitable spirit. Although he lost the battle he beat so many times over the years, we continued to be inspired by his strength." 

Andy and Chaia King died within weeks of each other

Larry King lived to see his children grow up, but he also lived every parent's worst nightmare. Two of his five children, Andy and Chaia, died within weeks of each other in 2020 — just a few months before King himself succumbed to COVID-19 complications. Andy suffered a sudden heart attack at age 65, and Chaia, 51, had been briefly battling lung cancer.

King announced the tragic news himself on his Instagram account: "It is with sadness and a father's broken heart that I confirm the recent loss of two of my children, Andy King, and Chaia King," he wrote. "Both of them were good and kind souls and they will be greatly missed. ... Losing them feels so out of order. No parent should have to bury a child." According to the Daily Mail, King was unable to attend the funerals as he had recently suffered a stroke. The outlet added that he watched his son's burial over video. 

Both children were from King's third and fifth marriages to former Playboy bunny Alene Akins, via USA Today. King adopted Akins' young son, Andy, in 1962 shortly after their first wedding, and following the couple's remarriage in 1968, they welcomed Chaia together, per People. In 1997, Chaia King collaborated with her dad on a children's book called "Daddy Day, Daughter Day," based on their own relationship. 

Andy's daughter, Jillian, spoke to the Daily Mail following the deaths of her father and aunt. She explained that just the week before, the whole family had a joyous gathering at Chaia's house. "They were both such wonderful people. They were lucky to be together in the end," she said. 

King's youngest children are achieving great things

In his long life, Larry King was able to see his five children grow to adulthood, including his two youngest. Chance and Cannon King, now in their early 20s, are his sons from his 22-year marriage to Shawn Southwick, per People. Though neither of them opted to follow their dad into journalism, they nonetheless made him exceedingly proud with their accomplishments.

Chance attended high school at the IMG Academy, a Florida boarding school for young athletes. There, he honed his baseball skills and was drafted to the Chicago White Sox in the 39th round draft pick in 2017, according to the Daily Mail. King called the moment "one of the greatest thrills of [his] life" on Twitter. Mom, Shawn King, announced on her Insta feed in April 2022 that Chance was also accepted to the University of Southern California Law School. 

Cannon, now 22, was drafted to the White Sox the year after his brother, but in 2020, he realized that his heart lay with another sport. Per his Instagram, Cannon now plays football at West Los Angeles College. Like his mother, Cannon is also a practicing Mormon, in contrast to his father's own beliefs. King, raised Jewish, eventually came to identify as "an agnostic atheist," which sparked some conflict in his marriage to Southwick.

Did Larry King really want all his money to go to his children?

In a sad conclusion to his long and fascinating life, Larry King's last wishes for his $2 million estate were called into question. When he was still married to his final wife, Shawn Southwick King, he wrote a will naming her as executor. In 2019, when the couple were in the process of divorcing, King updated his will to a one-page, handwritten note — known as a "holographic will" — stating simply that he wanted his estate divided evenly among his five children (via People). He named his son Larry King Jr. as the executor.

Shawn petitioned to be named executor, and contested the new will. She claimed that she and King had actually been close to reconciling before his death, and that the original will was the true reflection of his last wishes. The case reached a "confidential settlement" out of court to avoid a messy legal battle, per Radar Online.

The settlement also helped keep the focus on the love and respect King's family feels for him. As youngest son, Cannon King, said, "The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized that my job is not necessarily to pass on his legacy in the public eye, but to pass on his legacy of love and selflessness as he did in his everyday life. I wish all of you could feel the amount of love that I feel for my Dad. He'll always be my Dad. Forever."