Larry King, of 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' Fame, Dies at 83

Yahoo Contributor Network

Larry King, not the long time TV and radio host, but the Texas playwright and author, has died, according to the Houston Chronicle. The cause of death, the New York Times reports, was emphysema. He was 83.

Most famous for "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas"

King was best known for the Playboy article which eventually became a hit Broadway musical and movie called "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," according to both the Houston Chronicle and the New York Times. The article recounted the saga of a brothel that resided in the small town of LaGrange, Texas that has existed with the tacit approval of local law enforcement since the 19th Century. The establishment was called "The Chicken Ranch" because during the depression, patrons would exchange sessions with the young ladies with chickens, setting up a secondary business for the girls. The article recounted how Houston TV personality Marvin Zindler waged a campaign in the early 1970s to close the brothel down, thus ending an institution that had lasted since before the Civil War.

Hit Broadway play and movie

King wrote the book for the Broadway Play, "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," which first ran in 1978 and has been revived periodically since. The names of the town and some of the characters were changed to protect the guilty. The play and the subsequent movie version, starring Dolly Parton as the madam and Burt Reynolds as the local sheriff, was a musical romp that touched on the themes of human foibles, media excess, and political hypocrisy. The New York Times notes that the play ran for four years and more than 1,500 performances, despite less than stellar reviews.

King's other works

King wrote numerous essays and books. The work that first brought him to national prominence was called "Confessions of a White Racist," which according to both the Houston Chronicle and the New York Times recounted King's struggles with feelings of bigotry that had been engrained in him as a young boy. The book was nominated for a National Book Award for 1971.

King was somewhat drawn to writing about more colorful characters, as was suggested by the title of one of his other books, "Outlaws, Con Men, Whores, Politicians and Other Artists." Her was also a long term essayist with works published in Texas Monthly and Harpers.

King's Washington career

Before King became a full time writer in the 1960s, he worked as a congressional staffer, first for Rep J.T. Rutherford and then for Jim Wright, who eventually became Speaker of the House, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

View Comments