Speechless, for once

SHARON STONE snapped his suspenders. Don Rickles bussed his cheek. Barbara Sinatra called him "one of the few press people Frank really trusted." And Sid Caesar tossed out some advice: "Keep doin' what you're doin'."

For CNN talk show host Larry King, the surprise bash his wife, Shawn King, threw for his 70th birthday was more than a martini-swigging, dance-to-a-Sinatra-sound-alike romp. It was the chance for the Brooklynite-made-good to spend some rare downtime with a few hundred friends.

Sure, many of them -- Priscilla Presley, former Gov. Gray Davis, Johnnie Cochran, Jackie Collins, Robert Shapiro, Bill Maher, Nancy Grace, Pat Boone -- had appeared on "Larry King Live," and it was payback time. But it was more than that, Cochran said: "He has this immense ability to put everybody at ease, and he's a really good guy who's fair. You love to be around him."

From the surprise takeover of his Nov. 19 show by Dr. Phil to the hundreds who welcomed him afterward at the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills -- where the library had been turned into a groovy '70s-style bar and the rooftop into a nightclub, complete with white dance floor, disco balls and cushy, candlelit lounge -- the evening was "the biggest surprise of my life," King said.


-- Ann Conway

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