Transcript of Larry L. King

This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture and education.

Journalist, playwright, and raconteur Larry L. King spent most of his life in Washington, DC, but the vivid language and distinctive characters of his home state never ceased to inspire him.

King was born in the small west Texas town of Putnam. After a brief stint in college, he covered sports and politics for the Midland and Odessa papers. Then he moved to Washington, where he spent several years working for Texas politicians.

But King was foremost a writer. During his career, he published fourteen books and seven plays, as well as articles for magazines such as Texas Monthly and Harper's.

His work is marked by a barbed wit. He delighted in exposing the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of people whose worldview, as he put it, extended "little further than the end of their own noses," like those who closed down the Chicken Ranch, a brothel near La Grange that had operated in open secret for decades.

That brothel became the subject of King's best-known work, the 1978 musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Although King expected the musical to close "quicker than a switchblade," it ran on Broadway for four years.

King died in 2012. Texas, he once said, "provided me with the stuff of a career," and his work endures as a vibrant chronicle of the state's politics, culture, and personalities.

More information about Larry L. King and other Texas Originals is available at This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.