Art Linkletter Biography

Author, Radio Personality, Television Personality(1912–2010)
Art Linkletter was a family-friendly radio and television personality who incorporated ordinary people into his broadcasts with comic results.

Synopsis

Born on July 17, 1912, in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, where his biological parents abandoned him on the doorsteps of a local church, Art Linkletter went on to TV success by following a simple formula: Put regular people, especially kids, in front of the camera and let them be themselves. His shows and a children's book spawned the TV show Kids Say the Darndest Things! and similar shows.

Early Life

Art Linkletter was born Arthur Gordon Linkletter, on July 17, 1912, in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, Canada, where his biological parents abandoned him on the doorsteps of a local church. He was adopted by an itinerant preacher and his wife, who eventually settled in California when Linkletter was 3 years old.

After his high school graduation, Linkletter drifted from state to state, earning his keep as a busboy and meat packer. When his explorations came to an end, he returned to his West Coast home, and enrolled at San Diego State College. He studied linguistics and drama; and participated in a dizzying array of extracurricular activities, holding spots on the football, handball, and swimming teams. During his junior year, Linkletter was hired as a radio announcer for a local San Diego station, KGB. Upon his graduation in 1934, he abandoned his idea of a teaching career. Instead, he remained at KGB, where he was promoted to chief announcer.

For the remainder of the 1930s, Linkletter continued to develop his craft, taking part in hundreds of radio programs. In 1942, he ventured to Hollywood to explore other opportunities in the entertainment industry.

Career Breakthrough

While there, he met John Guedal, with whom he partnered to create two of radio's most memorable productions, House Party and People Are Funny. In the early 1950s, Linkletter embraced the new medium of television by adapting to the small screen both House Party (in 1952) and People Are Funny (in 1954) to the small screen. The hare-brained audience participation shows proved to be a success among viewers, and remained on the air for a number of years. Linkletter also hosted Inside Beverly Hills (1955) and The Art Linkletter Show (1963).

Linkletter's ability to entertain through ordinary people enhanced his likable character. He proved particularly skilled at interviewing children, whose candid remarks provided some of his shows most precious moments. He translated his success into a handful of children's books, including Kids Say the Darndest Things! (1957), The Secret World of Kids (1959), Kids Still Say the Darndest Things! (1961) and Kids Sure Rite Funny!: A Child's Guide to Misinformation (1962).

Personal Tragedy

Linkletter made headlines under tragic circumstances in 1969, when his daughter, Diane, committed suicide while experimenting with LSD. Ten years later, Linkletter's 35-year-old son Robert was killed in a car crash. Plagued by misfortune, Linkletter began a lifelong crusade against drug abuse, making more than 70 speeches a year on the lecture circuit. He has since become a national anti-drug spokesperson, serving on the President's National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse Prevention, and as president of the National Coordinating Council on Drug Abuse Education and Information, Inc.

Personal Life

In addition to his success in the entertainment industry, Linkletter has made remarkable professional strides in the business sector. As president of Linkletter Enterprises he boasts assets that include numerous oil and real estate holdings. Linkletter has been awarded ten honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities for his humanitarian work, and his continuing campaign against drug abuse.

Art Linkletter returned to television in a 1998 production of Kids Say the Darndest Things, which he co-hosted with fellow funnyman Bill Cosby. On May 26, 2010, after a full and fruitful life entertaining both the young and old, Linkletter died in his Los Angeles home. He was 97 years old. Linkletter is survived by his wife, Lois; daughters Dawn Griffin and Sharon Linkletter; seven grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.

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