Michael King, Top Syndication Television Executive, Dies at 67
His company, King World Productions, was behind 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,' 'Wheel of Fortune' and 'Jeopardy!'
Michael King, who, with his brother, Roger, created the syndication powerhouse King World Productions, the home of The Oprah Winfrey Show, has died. He was 67.
King died on Wednesday from complications of pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his brother-in-law, screenwriter Jon Felson, told The Hollywood Reporter.
A previous report that claimed that King had contracted a severe infection after returning from France is untrue, he said.
With King serving as CEO, King World launched The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986, and her Chicago-based talk show led to two other daytime powerhouses, Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray.
In 1983, the company, then known for syndicating the Little Rascals comedies, had acquired the syndication rights to Wheel of Fortune, and a year later it picked up another Merv Griffin game show, Jeopardy!, and then The Hollywood Squares.
At its high point, King World’s all-star lineup attracted more than 100 million viewers daily by programming about 20 hours a week.
In a statement, Dr. Phil’s Phil McGraw called King “a friend that will be sorely missed.”
“Anyone that knew Michael knows what a passion he brought to everything he touched. He and Roger certainly had a profound impact on my life personally and professionally.”
The King brothers had inherited the company from their father, Charles King. King World went public in 1984 and 15 years later was purchased by CBS for $2.5 billion in stock, with the brothers reporting to then CBS Television president and CEO Leslie Moonves.
Later, King was part of the investment group that owned the New York Yankees, New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils.
Recently, he was head of the boxing concern King Sports Worldwide, which had a state-of-the-art gym in Carson, Calif. Two fighters that King promoted — Hassan N’Dam and Miguel Marriaga — are participating in world title bouts on June 13 in New York and June 19 in Montreal, respectively.
Survivors also include two sons and two daughters. Roger King died in December 2007 after suffering a stroke. He was 63.
1:35 p.m., May 28: Updated with information about the cause of death and correct age from King's family.