House Party hostArt Linkletter

A radio show host, Linkletter played a recording of an “interview” he did with his son after the boy’s first day at kindergarten. It was a hit, what with son Jack saying he didn’t plan to return to school, “Because I can’t read, I can’t write and they won’t let me talk.” Linkletter made the segment a regular part of his radio show House Party in 1945, and brought it with him when the show moved to TV in 1952 (it ran until 1970; it was also revived by Bill Cosby for two years starting in 1998). Dubbed “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, the segment was also a successful book series. “Retire?” he said in an interview when he was 75 years old. “If you retire, you can’t ever have a day off.” In 2003, he told an interviewer “I have to laugh at all of the stuff they’re talking about as if [reality TV] was just invented, sending people out to do crazy real things with no script and no rehearsal.” Linkletter did it better in the 1950s: “We’d rig a fake contest, have the winner go up to San Francisco with her husband. And while they were gone, we’d steal their house. When they came back, we had them search for the house.” Linkletter died at his Los Angeles home May 26. He was 97.

From This is True for 30 May 2010