Linkletter, Art, 1912-2010Alternative names
Arthur Gordon Linkletter was born July 17, 1912, in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. He was abandoned by his parents immediately after his birth, and adopted as an infant. He moved to Lowell, Massachusetts with his adoptive parents, and then migrated to California at the age of three. Linkletter attended high school in San Diego, where he was a star basketball player and swimmer. He graduated when he was 15, and subsequently spent 3 years drifting from state to state, working as a bus boy, meatpacker, and sailor until he was 18 years old. In 1930 he returned to California to attend San Diego State College. He participated in a wide number of extracurricular and athletic activities while at State, and graduated in 1934 with degrees in English and Psychology.
KGB, a local radio station, offered Linkletter a job as a radio announcer during his junior year at San Diego State. During the 1930s he participated in hundreds of radio programs, including one of the nation’s first man-in-the-street programs, which in turn led to one of the first live audience shows in radio. He was eventually promoted to Chief Announcer at KGB, and in 1942 decided to move to Hollywood and explore other opportunities in the radio and entertainment industries. While there he met John Guedal, with whom he partnered to create two of radio’s most memorable and popular productions – House Party and People Are Funny.
In the early 1950s Art Linkletter adapted both House Party and People Are Funny to the small screen, thus embracing the new medium of television, while continuing to air the programs on the radio. House Party ran on CBS for 25 years, and People are Funny aired on NBC for 19 years. Throughout these years he created several hare-brained audience participation shows, including Inside Beverly Hills (1955) and The Art Linkletter Show (1961). He was especially adept at interviewing children, whose unrehearsed and sometimes painfully honest remarks formed the basis of several popular shows including the television adaptations of House Party and People are Funny. These long-standing stints on radio and television have given Linkletter a trustworthy, easygoing, and honest image, which has made him an ideal spokesman for a variety of consumer products including breakfast cereals, canned foods, tobacco, and even new neighborhoods in suburbs across America.
Throughout his career, Linkletter has published books, articles, websites, and speeches on various subjects. He has written over 26 different books, the first of which appeared in 1947 and is eponymous with his most popular show, People Are Funny. His more recent interest in senior health and well-being prompted the book, Old Age is Not For Sissies, which was published in 1988. He has published two autobiographies, Confessions of a Happy Man (1960) and I Didn’t Do It Alone (1980). Linkletter’s most popular book, Kids Say the Darndest Things, has illustrations drawn by Charles Schultz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoons.
Art Linkletter is often referred to as “America’s Grandfather” and is renowned and trusted for his work with children because of the carefully constructed questions and lighthearted interviewing style that endeared him to many Americans during his long career in show business. His own family began with his marriage to Lois Foerster in 1935. Linkletter always credits his family (which now includes 8 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren) as the primary joy of his life. He and his family have borne tragedy with the premature deaths of two of his children. His daughter's death in 1969 prompted him to begin national and international dialog about the reasons for drug use and abuse in our everyday lives.
Linkletter has sat on the boards of directors for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Western Airlines, and Kaiser Hospitals. In 1979 he served on the President’s National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse Prevention, the Presidential Commission to Improve Reading in the US, the National Coordinating Council on Drug Abuse Education and Information, was the Ambassador of Goodwill Abroad for the US Department of Commerce, and a member of the US National Commission for UNESCO.
Today he owns and runs at least eight businesses, builds and manages public storehouses, office buildings, livestock operations, real estate development, and cattle and sheep stations in Australia. Linkletter Oil Enterprises has operated throughout South America and the US. He sits on the YMCA's board of directors, the Boy Scouts of America's public relations committee, chairs the John Douglas French Foundation for Alzheimer's Disease board, and is currently serving as the United Seniors Association's National Spokesman.
From the guide to the Art Linkletter Collection, 1940-2005, 1960-1979, (Special Collections & University Archives: Finding Aid Database)
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