Dave King’s Life Is Marked by Memorable Milestones and an Endless Pursuit of Passion
- Written byDarren Elms
- Photographed byShane O’Donnell
Dave King wants you to know that he lives each day with an attitude of gratitude. In a lifetime layered with college football, professional acting, a paid spokesperson gig, a loving family life and a career as a Realtor, Dave might chalk up his blessings to old-fashioned good luck. But the Manhattan Beach local also possesses a winning combination of optimism, good nature and drive—qualities that undoubtedly reinforced his character along the journey.
Dave started life in Pittsburgh, the oldest of three in a “classic Leave It to Beaver family.” His father worked for U.S. Steel as a machinist his entire career, and his mom took a job in the human resources department of Gimbels after he started ninth grade. It was also that year that the Kings moved from the city to a home in the suburbs.
“We were the only Black family in the neighborhood,” Dave shares. “But for the most part, we never had any problems. My parents had very high expectations for us with regard to grades, how we spoke, manners and who our friends were. Having a quick wit and a level of sarcasm honed to a fine edge guaranteed we had tons of laughs.”
At Penn State, Dave played for the legendary football coach Joe Paterno. He went there as a running back but was told he needed to play free safety if he ever wanted to start. “[Joe] was 100% everything you have ever read about him as a coach, mentor and father figure,” says Dave. “He was honest, hardworking and lived the life that any football coach would dream of. He instilled in me a work ethic and a definition of what it is to be loyal and a team player. That resonates with me to this very day.”
While in college, Dave began dating a girl auditioning for a musical. “She thought that if we were both in the play, we would be able to spend more time together,” he remembers. “She was a dancer and a cheerleader, so she was accustomed to auditioning. I was not.” Still, he gave it his best shot, singing “Maria” from West Side Story. He scored a spot in the chorus, which proved a life-changing experience for the young college student.
“I was so thrilled the entire time we were doing the show that I decided to change my major from aeronautical engineering to theatre,” he says. “My folks were like, ‘Nope. You need to be able to get a job when you graduate, so how about music education?’ So I graduated with a bachelor of science degree in music education because of all of the science I had taken.”
After college he got a job as a music teacher and a football coach in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, just outside State College. He then took the same job in Morristown, New Jersey, and stayed for three years.
While teaching in New Jersey, he began seeing fellow actors from college show up on television. He thought, “If they can do it, I can do it, but I need to be in New York City to do it.” He quit teaching and got a sales job in the city so he could pursue a career in acting.
“I was very fortunate that I was eventually able to do it all—theatre, commercials, TV and soaps,” he says. “I was on the soap opera Another World for two years, but my role kept getting smaller and smaller.” He told his wife at the time that he needed to start looking for another job. Then came the ad in The New York Timeslooking for a host for QVC, a television shopping network.
Dave applied, sent his demo reel, auditioned and landed the job. “I figured I’d only do it for a couple of years, but it turned into 14 fun-filled, never-boring years,” he says. “While I was there, I did over 14,000 live hours of television and sold $1 billion in merchandise, in addition to broadcasting from 10 Super Bowls, the Arctic Circle, The Bahamas and London.”
Dave also shared the stage with Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago, Kenny G, Neil Diamond, Diana Ross, Shania Twain, Vanessa Williams and many others. “I even sold antigravity pens to Russian cosmonauts while they were on the Space Shuttle!”
When he decided to leave QVC and on-air hosting, he returned to full-time acting—this time in Los Angeles. “I wanted to live in L.A. my entire life, but I never had the opportunity,” Dave explains. “Once I got out here, my wife, Jenny, who was also a host on QVC, was still in Philadelphia, so we were long distance for three years until she could make the move out here.”
During that period, Dave focused on reestablishing himself as an actor during the week and frequented open houses on the weekends—he had always loved homes. “I began to make friends with the Realtors here in the South Bay, and they said that if I could sell $1 billion worth of stuff on QVC, I could sell homes,” he remembers. “The more I thought about it, the more it made sense that I could do both.”
That began Dave’s career as a local Realtor. He believes the skill set he developed as an actor and QVC host directly benefits his clients. “As a Realtor, preparation, knowledge and, most importantly, the ability to tell the story is key,” he says. “Having told thousands and thousands of stories in my career, I honestly believe that no one is better equipped to tell the story of my buyer or seller.”
When Dave first came to L.A., he knew he wanted to live at the beach and assumed Santa Monica was the only answer. “When I started looking up there, I thought, ‘This is not what I am looking for,’ so I headed south. Once I hit Manhattan Beach, music played, angels sang and I thought, ‘I have found what I’ve been looking for. I am never leaving.’”
Dave loves that anything one might want in California can be found right here in the South Bay. “If you’re a skier, it’s a couple hours away. If you’re a foodie, you don’t have to leave ‘The Bubble.’ If you are into the beach, where else are you to find a better beach than right here? The homes, the people, the vibe—it’s all simply second to none.”
Dave and Jenny blended their families, with six kids and six grandchildren living in Texas, Utah, Missouri and Montana. “That means there is a lot of travel for Jenny and me, but we love it.”
Dave’s youngest daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, or Type 1, when she was only 1 year old. “She had an autoimmune disease called severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome, which mandated that she have a bone marrow transplant and be placed in a medically induced coma for six weeks,” Dave says. “Her major organs shut down during that time, but all of them came back to full function except the pancreas, which controls our blood sugar.”
As a result, Dave became active on the board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (now known as JDRF) in Philadelphia and continues that work here in L.A. He shares that his daughter just graduated from college as a dance major and is doing amazing.
With the children and grandchildren scattered around the country, Dave and Jenny make the most of their life at home here in Manhattan Beach. And while luck may have played a small part in his life’s trajectory, Dave’s pursuit of passion ensured its vitality.