Final “Larry King” Rules the Competition

Larry King hung up his suspenders on a high note.

An estimated 2.24 million people tuned in to the final edition of “Larry King Live” Thursday on CNN, The Associated Press reported, citing Nielsen Co. data.

The veteran newsman edged Fox News host Sean Hannity’s audience of 2.16 million viewers to take the no. 1 spot in the ratings, according to the AP.

The list of prominent well-wishers who helped King cap his 25-year nightly run on CNN included: Bill Clinton, President Obama, Donald Trump, Tony Bennett, Katie Couric, Donald Trump, Fred Armisen, Bill Maher, Ryan Seacrest, Suze Orman, Dr. Phil, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams.

"This is not Larry's funeral," Maher said Thursday, a reminder that King still plans to tape specials for CNN. “This is the end of a show, not the end of the man.”

While “Larry King Live” used to rule the competition, over the past year the show has consistently trailed behind Hannity and MSNBC’s "The Rachel Maddow Show," averaging just 672,000 viewers a night, according to the AP.

Leading up to the final edition of “Larry King Live,” CNN mostly downplayed the host’s exit. The network plans to air a series of re-runs until Piers Morgan, the “America’s Got Talent” host and onetime UK newspaper editor, takes over.

Still, King holds a Guinness World Record for the longest running show with the same host in the same time slot -- no small achievement in the cutthroat broadcast industry.

In announcing his planned departure over the summer, the Brooklyn native noted his first ever "Larry King Live" included a conversation with New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.

More than 50,000 interviews later, Mario Cuomo’s son, Andrew, is set to be sworn in as governor of the Empire State.

Another governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, said Thursday he’d declared it “Larry King Day” in California.

“I’ll be back,” King told the “Terminator” star.

Selected Reading: AP, NYT

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