Two presidents and four television news anchors turned out to bid US TV host Larry King farewell as he pulled the curtain down on his CNN talk show after 25 years.
King, 77, was serenaded by Tony Bennett singing The Best Is Yet to Come via videolink.
The dean of American talk show hosts had announced this summer he would leave, ushered out by a struggling network. Once the dominant voice in cable television news, King has faded in a sea of sharp talkers.
British talk show host and talent show judge Piers Morgan takes over the time slot in January.
“You’re not going to see me go away, but you’re not going to see me on this set anymore,” King said. “I don’t know what to say except to you, my audience, thank you, and instead of goodbye, how about so long?”
A parade of guests stopped by, including news anchors Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters and Brian Williams, who were in CNN’s New York studio. President Barack Obama delivered a taped message and former president Bill Clinton made his 29th appearance on the show, via videolink from Arkansas.
“You say that all you do is ask questions,” Mr Obama said. “But for generations of Americans, the answers to these questions have surprised us, they’ve informed us, and they’ve opened our eyes to the world beyond our living rooms.”
King has conducted 50,000 interviews in a broadcasting career where he worked for decades in radio before joining CNN in 1985. He’s recorded more than 6,000 shows for CNN.
Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live delivered a King impersonation – Larry interviewing Larry – dressed in the same bright red braces and polka dot tie. Armisen’s “Larry” asked what question King had asked more than any other. King replied: “Why?”
“The best question of all is ‘why?’ because it can’t be answered in one word and it forces people to think,” he said.