Though she was older and had been ill lately, King said he was shocked to hear she had died. "She was a great pal," he said on CNN Wednesday.
Taylor was a "trooper" who made friends and kept them, devoting her loyalty to them. She was "gutsy," one of the first people to stand up for people with HIV and to push for research on the disease. "She did more than any other single individual to fight AIDS," King said.
"She did have a rough life," King said, referring to the many times Taylor married. "She was what she was.
"She had everything you could put into one life, including a great sense of humor."
But the thing that stood out the most were her purple eyes, he said. Be clear, he said, they were not blue but purple. "They were glowing," he said. "Hypnotic."
"She was a helluva woman," King said.
Here is a text of Taylor's letter to King upon his retirement:
My Dearest Larry,
I am so very sorry not to be able to be there this last historic night to celebrate with you your long and illustrious tenure as King of the Airwaves.
I am sure I am one of many, many interviewees, who, exhausted from explaining themselves, their actions, their projects, their loves, heaved a sigh of relief knowing that they were coming to talk to you. Talking to you was like a late night chat with a friend.
It thrills me to think that you are going on to a long luxurious retirement.
Our loss is your family's gain.
My good thoughts and love follow you there,