With his brother transformed King World Productions, a modest company they inherited from their father, into a syndicator of television megahits like “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.”
The King brothers seized an opening for independently produced and syndicated game shows and talk shows in the 1970s, when federal regulations limited how much programming the three major networks could own.
Roger King, an imposing 6-foot-4, 250-pound salesman, became chief executive of CBS Television Distribution. Michael King became a consultant to CBS. More than a decade ago he was a part owner of the New Jersey Devils hockey franchise, which later merged financially with the New York Yankees. At his death he owned King Sports Worldwide, a boxing promotion company in Los Angeles.
King World was started by Charles King in 1964 with syndication rights to radio programs and the classic 1930s Hal Roach “Our Gang” comedy shorts (which had been renamed “The Little Rascals” for television). His children inherited the company on his death in 1972, and they built it into the television industry’s dominant distributor of game and talk shows. For a time they were the richest family in the industry.
By 1982 they had persuaded Merv Griffin to let them distribute his “Wheel of Fortune” game show, and two years later they took their company public.
Michael Gordon King, a son of Charles and Lucille King, was born in Rahway, N.J., on March 8, 1948. He assumed the title of president of King World, at a salary of $150 week, soon after graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
In 1975, he joined his brother Roger in Fort Lauderdale at WKID-TV, where they co-hosted an all-night talk show.
Michael, who was four years younger and considered less mercurial than Roger, returned to King World with his brother two years later.
Roger King died in 2007. Michael is survived by his wife, Jena; their three children, Theodore, Audrey and Jesse; and a daughter, Alexandra, from a previous marriage.more » « less