Talk show host Larry King apologized Tuesday for saying Miss Pennsylvania Marla Wynne was the ugliest contestant in last week's Miss America Pageant.
King, a judge at the pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., named Wynne the homeliest of the bunch during an appearance Monday on "The Joan Rivers Show."
"She was one of the 10 finalists, and she did a great ventriloquist bit. . . . The dummy was prettier," he said.
"He was kidding," said Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for "Larry King Live" on CNN. "He was on the show with Joan Rivers. Joan's a comedian. He reacted to her in a comedic way. He regrets the incident and he apologizes.
"In retrospect he realizes it was not funny. He certainly did not mean to be offensive."
King sent a dozen long-stemmed red roses and a telegram to Wynne apologizing for his comments, which he said "were made in jest with no intention to offend."
"You are a bright, shining talent," King wrote. " . . . Half the women in America would kill to be in your shoes. In this case I'm the real dummy."
Wynne's father, Gary, of Easton, Pa., told WAEB-AM radio Tuesday that the family and the Miss Pennsylvania Pageant were considering legal action. The contestant's mother, Marlene, said the apology was necessary, but it needed to go further.
"I think he and Marla should talk about it," she said. "He has hurt her very deeply, and he has hurt many other people."
She said the family had spoken to an attorney and was told that King had the right to express an opinion.
Wynne was invited to appear on Rivers' show, said Dennis Stewart, chairman of the Pennsylvania pageant. He said an appearance later in the week was being discussed.
"If people get a chance to see her, that's as much as a rebuttal to what Larry said," Stewart said.
"She is by far not ugly," Wynne's mother said. "For him to attack any girl who was on that stage, in his position as a judge, I think, is contemptible."
Murphy said King may agree to a meeting. "His top priority now is to clear the air."