Art Linkletter, the easygoing, smooth-voiced emcee famed for his long-running hosting gigs of the radio show “House Party” and the TV shows “People Are Funny” and “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” has died, CNN has confirmed. He was 97.
Linkletter rose to fame as a radio announcer in San Diego, later becoming a program director. In 1944, he launched “Art Linkletter’s House Party,” a daytime CBS radio show that moved to television in 1952 and ran until 1969.
His nighttime show, “People Are Funny,” started on radio in 1942 and ran on NBC television from 1954 to 1961. According to Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh’s “The Complete Directory to Primetime Network and Cable Shows, 1946-Present,” the show featured everyday guests who would be interviewed by Linkletter and then be asked to do a stunt. The result for those who failed at the stunt was often a pie in the face or a splash of water.
Linkletter also hosted a short-lived quiz show, “The Art Linkletter Show,” in 1963.
But he’s probably best remembered for “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” which began as a segment on “House Party.”
Linkletter would ask several children their thoughts on various topics; their responses were often hilariously absurd. A collection of the children’s sayings eventually became one of the best-selling books of the era.
At its height, Linkletter’s fame was notable enough to make him part of Milton Bradley’s “Game of Life,” which featured Linkletter’s endorsement and his photo on the game’s $100,000 bill. His 1960 biography was called “Confessions of a Happy Man.”