Wednesday, May 26, 2010


From the Associated Press:
Art Linkletter, who hosted the popular TV shows "People Are Funny" and "House Party" in the 1950s and 1960s, has died. He was 97.

His son-in-law Art Hershey says Linkletter died Wednesday at his home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles.

"Art Linkletter's House Party," one of television's longest-running variety shows, debuted on radio in 1944 and was seen on CBS-TV from 1952 to 1969.

Though it had many features, the best known was the daily interviews with schoolchildren.

"On `House Party' I would talk to you and bring out the fact that you had been letting your boss beat you at golf over a period of months as part of your campaign to get a raise," Linkletter wrote.

"All the while, without your knowledge, your boss would be sitting a few feet away listening, and at the appropriate moment, I would bring you together," he said. "Now, that's funny, because the laugh arises out of a real situation."

Linkletter collected sayings from the children into "Kids Say The Darndest Things," and it sold in the millions. The book "70 Years of Best Sellers 1895-1965" ranked "Kids Say the Darndest Things" as the 15th top seller among nonfiction books in that period.

The primetime "People Are Funny," which began on radio in 1942 and ran on TV from 1954 to 1961, emphasized slapstick humor and audience participation — things like throwing a pie in the face of a contestant who couldn't tell his Social Security number in five seconds, or asking him to go out and cash a check written on the side of a watermelon.

[In] 1969, his 20-year-old daughter, Diane, jumped to her death from her sixth-floor Hollywood apartment. He blamed her death on LSD use, but toxicology tests found no LSD in her body after she died.

After leaving daily broadcasting in 1969, Linkletter continued to write, lecture and appear in television commercials.

"I'm an optimist. Even though I've had tragedies in my life, and I've seen a lot of difficult things, I still am an optimist." It's always been planned that eventually Art Linkletter would be inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame as a member of the League of Themselves. According to the IMDb, he's the only person in TV history to have five shows concurrently on network TV, although they don't list them. And I'm too lazy to do it. But among his shows were:

"Kids Say the Darndest Things"

"Hollywood Talent Scouts"

"The Art Linkletter Show"

"Startime" (At least the episode "The Secret World of Kids"

"House Party"

"Life with Linkletter"

But he also made appearances as his televersion, mostly in sitcoms, to qualify even without his own more reality-based shows:

"Small Wonder"
- Come Fly with Me (1988)

"Here's Lucy"
- Lucy Loses Her Cool (1970)

- Catwoman Goes to College

"The Lucy Show"
- Lucy and Art Linkletter (1966)

"The Bob Cummings Show"
- Bob vs. Linkletter (1959)
"The Jack Benny Show"
- Peggy King & Art Linkletter (1955)

Mr. Linkletter also contributed several other characters for the Tele-Folks Directory of Toobworld on shows like 'The Red Skelton Show', 'Wagon Train', 'Zane Grey Theater', several episodes of 'General Electric Theater' and even 'The Christophers' (in which he may have portrayed George Washington). He also appeared in movies, like 'Champagne For Caesar' which dealt with the world of TV. (If I'm not mistaken, Linkletter's role of Happy Hogan was the host of a game show.)
(Here's Art Linkletter as Sam Darland in "The Sam Darland Story" as seen on 'Wagon Train'. The boy on the far right was only identified as "Johnny", played by Robert "Rusty" Stevens. Johnny could be the ancestor of Larry Mondello of 'Leave It To Beaver.')

Art Linkletter's life was full of tragedy (He survived three of his five children, one of whom was the daughter who leaped out of a window in 1969.), but that didn't stop him from filling his life with meaning by helping others and making us smile along the way. He deserves the chance to rest now.

Good night and may God bless.


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