Art Linkletter, the likable, fatherly figure who dominated an early form of reality TV with his interviews of children who could be relied on to say "the darndest things," died Wednesday at age 97 in his Bel Air home.
Linkletter, who during the 1950s and 1960s hosted "House Party" and "People Are Funny" had a unerring knack for putting kids at ease in front of TV cameras, lights and a live audience.
The format of having little kids innocently blurt out information that often revealed how closely they watched the adults in their lives if not always understanding what they had seen or heard, was such successful entertainment that the franchise was later revived with Bill Cosby as host during the late 1990s.
Cosby used a lot of video footage from Linkletter's shows. He also did a tribute to Linkletter which you can see below. Linkletter's reaction to the children was often as funny as the unintended laugh lines delivered by the kids.
He also talked about his life in a video shot by the Archive for American Television whose web site is emmytvlegends.org. He started out as an infant named Gordon Arthur Kelly in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada where he was abandoned by his parents. He was adopted by a shoe repairer and preacher named Linkletter which is how he got his surname.