Rough-and-tumble Roger King took his daddy's syndication company from Little Rascals reruns to Wheel of Fortune and Oprah before selling out to CBS for two and a half billion dollars and, over the weekend, dying of a stroke at 63. We in the tabloid world, of course, remember Roger as a wild and woolly salesman who set the national tabloid television rivalry into motion when he raided the original A Current Affair team to start up an imitator show.
Inside Edition would also launch the career of a dweebish Bill O'Reilly (later to be reinvented as a blowhard bully at Fox News-- see the analysis by "tabloid historian" Burt Kearns in Marvin Kitman's book The Man Who Would Not Shut Up--start on page 135), and though few would realize it, remains in syndication to this day, probably due to its low profile, lack of tabloid controversy, and the positioning and packaging Roger and his brother Michael were so brilliant at creating ("If you want Oprah for your station, you gotta take Deb Norville!")
Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing about 250 pounds, Roger was an imposing presence, and behinn the scenes he led a tabloid personal life as well. the LA Times reminds us he pleaded no contest to charges of auto theft and cocaine possession in 1987 after a dispute with a cab driver who picked him up from a nightclub in Fort Lauderdale, and again in 1992, to misdemeanor battery in 1992, after a physical altercation with two hotel guests at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
There are lots of Roger King stories out there. Send us your memories of another loss from a vanishing breed.