A boo and a baby didn't hold up Larry King's commencement speech for a second Saturday morning.
After receiving an honorary degree at Bradley University's midyear graduation at the Peoria Civic Center, the celebrated CNN talk-show host stepped to the podium and said, "I know, you thought I'd passed away."
King then joked about the "boobird" and the crying baby in the audience and proceeded to keep listeners alert and chuckling throughout his presentation.
"I thought it was fantastic," said John Holmes, 22, noting King took the interruptions in stride.
"He kind of poked fun at it," said Holmes, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology.
King, who arrived at CNN in 1985, admitted to the December 2009 graduating class that his speech did not have a theme "except, to tell you that you should never give up."
"I'm a classic example of this," he said.
The 76-year-old told a story about an elaborate prank he and two buddies cooked up as ninth-graders in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The friends, Herb Cohen and Brazie Abbate, went on to become a nationally recognized negotiator and a brain surgeon, respectively, he said.
The prank involved telling the school their friend Gilbert Mermelstein was dead. Mermelstein, whom the trio nicknamed Gil Moppo, actually had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and had gone to Arizona with his family to get better.
King told how he and his friends collected money for flowers for Moppo and kept it, and how the scheme unraveled when Moppo returned to school.
Even though King acknowledged he and his friends did "a stupid thing" and risked suspension, he said the lesson learned is how far perseverance and gumption can take you.
"Never be afraid to take risks," King said, reminding parents not to hold back their children.
... to read the full article: King shares message of perseverance
Photo credit: RON JOHNSON/JOURNAL STAR