Veteran TV host Art Linkletter dead at 97

Wed May 26, 2010 6:39pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Art Linkletter, the genial radio and television host who specialized in getting kids to say "the darndest things," died on Wednesday at age 97, his assistant said.

The Canadian-born Linkletter, a mainstay of American broadcasting in the 1950s and '60s with long-running shows like "People Are Funny" and "Art Linkletter's House Party," died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles' upscale Bel Air community, assistant Jennifer Kramer told Reuters.

His programs sometimes featured conversations with celebrities but emphasized man-in-the-street interviews, interaction with audience members and comic conversations with children.

Linkletter also served as master of ceremonies for opening day at Disneyland in 1955, and returned decades later to officiate at the 50th anniversary celebration of the theme park on his 95th birthday.

Linkletter's famed interviews with youngsters were popularized as a regular segment of his weekday series "House Party," which debuted on radio in 1945 and ran on CBS television from 1952 until 1970.

Playing on the natural guilelessness of his young subjects,

Linkletter became a master of eliciting completely candid, occasionally insightful and often hilarious responses from children on topics ranging from history and religion to family relationships and manners.

The produced a number of classic TV moments, such as the 8-year-old boy who told Linkletter, "My mom is going to have a baby but my father doesn't know."

"My art," Linkletter once said, "is getting other people to perform ... People are more interesting to me than anything else."   Continued...

<p>Television personality Art Linkletter walks through the Hollywood Pictures Backlot at the opening of Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim, California in this February 8, 2001 file photo. Linkletter, the genial television host who specialized in getting kids to say "the darndest things," died on May 26, 2010 at the age of 97, his assistant said. REUTERS/Sam Mircovich/Files</p>