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Art Linkletter, Emmy Award-Winning TV Personality, Dead at 97

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May 26, 2010 | 1:09pm EDT

ALTArt Linkletter, the Emmy-award winning television host best known as the creator of the popular television program Art Linkletter's House Party, passed away today at the age of 97. Mr. Linkletter, who began his entertainment career in radio in the early 1930s, became a pioneer in the television industry.  His House Party - one of the longest running variety shows on television - was best known for the segment "Kids Say the Darndest Things," which featured Mr. Linkletter 'interviewing' young children - over 27,000 during the show's eighteen-year run.  Instead of relying on scripted bits, Mr. Linkletter allowed the children's answers to provide the segment's comedy.

One of the show's most memorable exchanges occurred when Mr. Linkletter asked a young girl, "What do you think would make a perfect husband, Karen?"  "A man that provides a lot of money, loves horses, and will let you have 22 kids and doesn't put up a fight," she replied.  "And what do you think you'll be when you grow up?"  "A nun."

Mr. Linkletter also hosted the evening show "People Are Funny," on NBC from 1954 to 1961, where contestants were picked from among the studio audience to participate in comedic stunts and challenges. The basic concept, for Mr. Linkletter, was that anyone could be funny on television - and have their fifteen minutes of fame too. The innovative formatting of his programs led him in recent years to remark that he had inadvertently "invented reality TV."

Mr. Linkletter, who was born Arthur Gordon Kelly on July 17, 1912 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, is survived by his wife, Lois, whom he had been married to since 1935, and his daughters, Dawn and Sharon.

Source: The Washington Post

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