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May 27, 2010

R.I.P. Art Linkletter

The multi-talented radio/TV man will be best remembered for his interviews with kids

Art Linkletter, who encouraged both kids and grownups to say the "darndest things" during his decades as a genial but gently mischievous television personality, has died at age 97.

This video is a terrific remembrance of Linkletter at his best -- interviewing the kids. The best line comes about 2:20 into the video when Art says to a young boy, "You're a diplomat, aren't you?" The boy, without skipping a beat, replies, "No, I'm a Catholic Baptist!" Enjoy:


In the 1930's, after he had graduated from High School, he lived as a hobo for a period -- bumming rides on trains and sleeping in the Hobo Jungle. He wrote that this period left an impression on him. I'd like to read a reconstruction of that time, or see a movie based on the material. It would be difficult to dramatize without patronizing the poor, or sentimentalizing the central figure. ("And that young man later became _Art Linkletter_.") But there is a lot of promise there. Linkletter was at the same time temping for businesses: what behaviors are shared by businessmen and tramps? When a simple decision meant that one's fortune would be lost, what are the effects on both sides of the tracks?