Larry King, the host and product pitchman

Talk show host Larry King speaks at a commemorative plaque dedication ceremony for John Lennon and George Harrison as part of the first anniversary celebration of 'The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil' show at the Mirage Hotel & Casino June 26, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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JEREMY HOBSON: Tonight Larry King hosts the very last episode of his prime time CNN program. Now, most of us will probably remember Larry King for his suspenders and his interviews with just about everyone under the sun.

But as Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports Larry King will also be remembered for his abilities as a product pitchman.


Jennifer Collins: Before CNN, Larry King was a radio man.

Larry King Show clip: Live from New York City, it's the Larry King Show. A presentation of the Mutual Broadcasting System.

The Larry King Show went national in 1978. Wesley Hyatt is a broadcast historian, and he says whether King was promoting pain relievers or anything else, the broadcaster made a name himself for his convincing delivery of commercials.

Wesley Hyatt: They were so off the cuff that you really couldn't tell if it was taped or if he was going to go ahead and say it as part of the show itself, and I think that's why a lot of advertisers tried to see if they could get him to pitch their products.

Larry King was part of a generation of personalities who were both host and product spokesman. And Robert Thompson, television professor at Syracuse University, says that trend is returning.

Robert Thompson: The program and the advertising have suddenly become one. Now Conan O'Brien does it regularly. If you watch the Jimmy Kimmel show, he pitches any number of products.

And these pitches are pricey. American Express reportedly paid Conan O'Brien $1 million for one of his ads.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

About the author

Jennifer Collins is a reporter for the Marketplace portfolio of programs. She is based in Los Angeles, where she covers media, retail, the entertainment industry and the West Coast.

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