Art Linkletter Was One of a Kind!

By Ralph Hipp

Art Linkletter died on Wednesday at his Hollywood home, and I was sad about that.  But a few hours later, I was laughing.  Laughing at his video clips with children he interviewed on his "House Party" show which aired on WIBW for many years right up till 1969.  Art Linkletter hasn't been on the air in 40 years, but I hope many of you remember him, his program, and his funny kid-terviews!

Linkletter started out on radio of course, and was a roving reporter announcing from state fairs.  That's probably how he found out how much he liked interviewing regular people and creating or playing off of, funny situations.  His critics found him boring and wondered how in the world he could be so popular.   But his millions of fans thought otherwise, mainly housewives who liked his very easy manner, and the way he was with the children he lined up and talked to.  One man who shared a comment on Art's obituary page last night said Linkletter gave the boy a model train car; the lad was one of the four children who were selected from an all-black school (and that was not something you saw everyday back then!)  That sparked the young man's interest in model railroading which he carries to this day, and thanks Art Linkletter for that.  A small gesture which turned into a giant pastime.

If you're a TV fan from way back and remember Groucho Marx and "You Bet Your Life.." you would not be surprised that Groucho's show and Art Linkletter's "People Are Funny," were created by the same man, producer John Guedel.  From radio, Art went to TV with that show, before his "House Party" ran on radio for 22 years, then on CBS-TV from the early 50s till 1969. 

Art outlived three of his children:  many may remember when Diane Linkletter jumped from an apartment window to her death, starting Linkletter's crusade against drug abuse (coroners found no LSD or any drugs in Diane's system.)  Son Jack Linkletter was a television host, too.. but died of lymphoma.  Their brother Robert was killed in a car crash.  But Art would not let the astounding loss of three of his children send him into despair, saying "he was a better man because they were here."  Here, here!  You could see his adoration for children in his many hours on television.  

How about writing something you remember about Art Linkletter?  People are funny, and he was too.     Ralph 


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