Larry King's Luminary Friends Chime in on His News

Talk show host Larry King says he's stepping down after 25 years.

ByABC News
June 29, 2010, 10:00 PM

June 30, 2010— -- Moments after Larry King announced on his show that he is "hanging up his suspenders," the calls from his luminary friends came flooding in.

"I'll miss you!" former first lady Nancy Reagan told King after his announcement.

"I couldn't let you do this without my calling you," she told the veteran interviewer and talk host who is ending his live show on CNN after 25 years. "You didn't call to ask my permission!"

Reagan ended her call with "Lots of love Larry -- and I'll miss you!"

She's not the only one.

"You're one of a kind," TV host Regis Philbin told him. "I'll miss you, I'll miss your suspenders -- I'll miss everything!"

When ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer called in to praise him, King extracted a promise from her to appear during his final week this fall.

CNN founder Ted Turner sent the following statement to "Larry has been the face of CNN for many years and has set the example for others to follow. He is and always will be one of my closest friends. I wish him and his family all the very best."

King first announced he was leaving his show Tuesday in a message on Twitter: "It's time to hang up my nightly suspenders."

Later in the day, he released a more fleshed-out statement that he also read at the top of his prime time show.

"Before I start the show tonight, I want to share some personal news with you," he said. "Twenty-five years ago, I sat across this table from New York Gov. Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast of 'Larry King Live.'

"Now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN, and I told them I would like to end 'Larry King Live,' the nightly show, this fall and CNN has graciously accepted, to agree to giving me more time for my wife and to get to the kids' Little League games."

He added that after leaving in the fall, he would remain affiliated with the cable news network in a more limited capacity, hosting the occasional special.

King's guest Tuesday evening was his friend, the comedian and talk show host Bill Maher, who alluded to media gossip that King was being pushed out of the job against his will.

"I hope you're doing this of your own volition," Maher said to King.

"There was no pressure from CNN," King replied, adding that he has conducted an estimated 50,000 interviews in a broadcasting career that has spanned five decades. "It was time, Bill. It was time."

Not everyone sees the situation in the same light.

"CNN has made it clear there's not a lot of future for him there and I think he wanted to go out on his own steam with his head held high," Tammy Haddad, a former executive producer on the program, told ABC News.

And indeed, King, whose contract is set to expire in 2011, has seen his show plummet in ratings lately: "Larry King Live" had an average of 653,000 viewers each night in May, its lowest average since the data started being electronically stored in the early 1990s, according to The Nielsen Company.