Rebecca Tyrrel: Wives and permanence are concepts that have struggled to cohabit throughout Larry King’s life

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Who knew that Larry King keeps a Barbie doll styled after his wife Shawn on permanent display nestling among the chandeliers and Louis XIV adornments in the hallway of the couple's Beverly Hills home? Given that Shawn is the recently retired CNN chat show legend's seventh wife, this isn't surprising. Wives and permanence are concepts that have struggled to cohabit throughout the 77-year-old's adult life. If the only way to keep the girl is by imprisoning a latex version of her in a Perspex case, who could blame him for that tiny diversion from feminist orthodoxy? She clearly doesn't.

In real life, Shawn, a trophy blonde from Utah who sang with the Osmonds as a girl before mysteriously falling out with Marie, is Mormon Barbie. So we might assume that the sole objection of a current wife whom Larry describes as "very devout" to his remarkable collection of spouses – only two of whom were Playboy bunnies – is that he wasn't married to them all at the same time in the Mormon manner.

To the Mrs Merton-esque question, "What first attracted you the much older, diminutive, wizened, facetious, brace-wearing, anti-Adonis multimillionaire?" Shawn's answer is, inevitably, the sense of humour hinted at by that hallway tribute. Sadly, the merriment ran dry a year ago, when the two came very close to divorce. But after Shawn made a half-hearted suicide attempt, the pair narrowly avoided replicating the unfortunate split of their height- and age-differential role models, Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone.

Since Larry passed on the CNN chat show baton to Piers Morgan, the laughter has returned. Indeed, Larry now has a stand-up show, which he has already taken, among other places, to Las Vegas. The comedy of King will be coming to Britain next year, when Shawn will open the show, as she did in Vegas, with her tuneful warblings.

Whether her own sense of humour will extend to including an ironic version of Donny Osmond's "Puppy Love", time alone will tell. More likely, perhaps, is that she'll pay tribute to the father of her two young sons with a rendition of Aqua's "Barbie Girl". "Dress me up, make it tight, I'm your dolly... Oh, I'm having so much fun...!" Long may it last. Until number eight.

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