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Art Linkletter, Comedian and TV Show Host, Dies

Art Linkletter, 97, an Emmy Award-winning television personality best known for his candid, chuckle-inducing interviews with kids who said "the darndest things" live on air, has died.

Throughout a Hollywood career that spanned more than four decades, Mr. Linkletter's greatest legacy was the concept of allowing children to provide the humor for a show, instead of professional entertainers who had memorized lines.

On his CBS daytime variety program, "House Party," which aired from 1952 to 1970, Mr. Linkletter asked children simple questions.

"What do your parents do for fun?" Mr. Linkletter asked one boy.

"I don't know," the boy replied. "They always lock the door."

Mr. Linkletter was a native of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, which he joked was renamed "Slack Jaw" after him and his loose lipped comedic style.

He was an orphan child and adopted as an infant by an older couple. His adoptive father was a one-legged shoe repairman and Sunday soap box Baptist preacher who Mr. Linkletter joked "saved soles seven days a week."

He entered the radio industry in the early 1930s, working on a campus station while attending what is now San Diego State University.

In 1944, he began hosting "House Party," a magazine show aired in the afternoons on CBS radio. The show's format, along with Mr. Linkletter's conversational style, played well for a live audience, and in 1952 the show switched to a television broadcast. The show featured a variety of segments and reports from more than 35 different departments including popular news of the day, and beauty and fashion tips for women.

The show is best remembered for a closing segment when Mr. Linkletter spoke with a small group of children and asked them questions about their lives.

He asked one little girl, "What do you think would make a perfect husband, Karen?"

"A man that provides a lot of money, loves horses, and will let you have 22 kids and doesn't put up a fight," Karen said.

"And what do you think you'll be when you grow up?"

"A nun."

A full obituary of Mr. Linkletter will be posted soon. In the mean time, please feel free to leave your memories of Mr. Linkletter below.

By T. Rees Shapiro  |  May 26, 2010; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  Actors, actresses  | Tags: Art Linkletter; Bill Cosby; Kids Say the Darndest Things; Art Linkletter and died; Art Linkletter and Kids; Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby; Emmy Award; CBS;  
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I did some work for Mr. Linkletter and he was just as personable privately as he was publicly. He lived a long productive life and left his positive mark on society.

Posted by: jmlbc1 | May 26, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

He was good with adults, too. Many House Party segments worked so well they inspired long-running game shows like To Tell The Truth (Detecto) and Let's Make A Deal (What's In The Box?). The show also featured outstanding interviews with public figures from various fields and regular folks with a story to tell.

I didn't agree with his politics or his anti-drug campaigns but he always seemed like a good guy who was really good at what he did.

His one mistake was taking two of his kids and putting them to work on network television, thus denying them the chance to get the kind of life experience he had meeting people on the road and working different kinds of jobs. His success came from being great with people and he learned that on the road.

Posted by: emacee1701 | May 26, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Linkletter was a ghoul. Drove his own daughter to suicide, then lied about it to hype his book. The ultimate self-promoting celebrity. Yecch.

Posted by: clsgis | May 26, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Married his wife Lois in 1935, and she survives him. That's 74 years together, amazing. Who says Hollywood marriages don't last?

Posted by: MarkT3 | May 26, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

@ clsgis Art Linkletter's daughter died of a drug overdose and no one "drove" her to it! He mourned her death deeply the rest of his life. What an awful comment to make.

I always admired his ability to talk to the kids on his show with respect. He never seemed to be teasing or making fun of them, never talked down to them. Instead he listened carefully to their answers, and responded in an adult manner. I've always thought that was the reason that segment of his program was so well received.

A great person left us today. May he RIP.

Posted by: Nonnie22 | May 26, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

When I worked at United Seniors Association, I had the opportunity to meet Art Linkletter on several occasions. One time, I even had a chance to talk with him for over an hour.

It was a tremendous honor to be able to meet and talk one-on-one with someone I remember watching on TV back in the 1950s.

Art was a great guy. He was personable and funny. He had wonderful stories to tell about personalities he had known in the entertainment industry.

An excellent tribute to Art Linkletter was written by Kathleen Patten, who worked very closely with him at United Seniors Associaiton. The article is online at Newmax at

Posted by: ArtKelly | May 27, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Some of my first memories were my Mother watching his show.
He made a habit of doing good. One of his funniest stories.
Art: I make a habit of visiting nursing homes, I was visiting a dementia, Alzheimer ward, giving away autographed pictures. Stopping to talk to a elderly lady I asked,"Do you know who I am?".The old girl replied, "No, but if you go to the front desk, they'll tell you."
Art, out lived 3 of his 5 children, as a Christian, I believe Art hasn't died, he has been promoted. There will be a little more light and laughter in heaven.

Posted by: gclc44 | May 28, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

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