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Harold King, Reuters World War II Correspondent, Dies

September 25, 1990 GMT

PARIS (AP) _ British journalist Harold King, who covered the battle of Stalingrad and forged close ties with French leader Charles de Gaulle, has died. He was 91.

The Reuters news agency’s Paris bureau, which King headed from 1944 to 1967, said he died Monday at a clinic at Nogent-Sur-Marne, near Paris.

He died of heart failure following surgery for a bladder-related ailment, the British agency said.

″Harold was larger than life, commanding attention and respect among journalists, in political circles and among the best restaurants in Europe,″ Reuters managing director, Glen Renfrew, commented in London.

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King was born Harold Koenig in Berlin in 1898. The family moved to London and his father, a German psychiatrist, changed the family name to King when World War I broke out in 1914.

King began his literary career in 1919 as secretary to writer Jerome K. Jerome, author of ″Three Men in a Boat.″

But he quickly shifted to journalism and moved to Paris in 1931, where he became correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

King fled Paris for London in 1940 as Hitler’s armies stormed across France. He then began his long career with Reuters, covering Gen. de Gaulle’s exiled French forces.

Reuters later sent King to the Soviet Union, where he wrote on the Red Army victory at Stalingrad and covered Stalin’s breakup of the Communist International in 1943.

King accompanied the Free French landings in southern France in 1944.

He cultivated his contacts with de Gaulle during the general’s postwar withdrawal from political life. France recalled him as president in 1958 during the height of the Algerian war.

The two men enjoyed close relations, and King became one of de Gaulle’s favorite media contacts.

After King stepped down as head of the Paris bureau, the agency named him honorary assistant director for life. He later worked as a correspondent for the Toronto Telegram.

France named King a commander of the Legion of Honor, one of the country’s highest honors, in 1971.

King had been in failing health for about a decade. His recent surgery followed a broken hip suffered in a fall a few weeks ago.

His wife, the Romanian dancer Irene Codreanu, died in 1985. The couple had no children. Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.