Art Linkletter was born July 17, 1912 at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. His birth name was Arthur Gordon Kelly. He is the adopted son of Fulton John Linkletter (an evangelical preacher by vocation) and Mary Metzler Linkletter. As a baby he was abandoned by his parents within weeks of his birth. He had no contact with his parents, a sister, or his two brothers following his abandonment.
Art's adoptive parents left Canada for warmer climes, coming to the United States and living in Lowell, Mass. and southern California before Art was five years old. As a youngster Art showed his enterprising spirit by culling through the castoffs from a lemon packing company and selling the best-of-the-bad door to door. He is an alumnus of San Diego State University, where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Art became a naturalized US citizen in 1942.
Art Linkletter hosted the CBS radio show House Party, beginning January 15, 1945 until October 13, 1967, making it one of the longest running programs in radio history. Linkletter also hosted the TV show of the same name for CBS from September 1, 1952 until September 5, 1969. NBC picked up the TV show, but its run was brief, from December 29, 1969 until September 25, 1970.
Art linkletter was also the host of another long-running program named People Are Funny. The NBC program began on radio in 1942, then making the transition to TV on September 19, 1954 until April 2, 1961.
Art Linkletter holds the record for the number of programs which ran concurrently on network television, with an amazing total of five.
In his heyday, Art Linkletter ruled daytime TV. He was a pioneer in radio and TV, helping to popularize the interview format, include audience participation ,and having children as the subjects interviewed. His TV show was light fare, innocuous as white bread, an entertaining break for weary housewives, who were his main audience. The show featured a monologue with jokes and patter, a quiz for prizes with audience participation, interviews with various adults followed by his Kids Say the Darndest Things segment, where he asked questions of 5-11 year old children drawn from the local schools, who did indeed sometimes say the darndest things. Linkletter, ever the entrepreneur, was to create a series of books based on these interviews.
Art Linkletter married Lois Foerster in 1935, making theirs one of the longest running marriages in show business. They were to have 5 children from the marriage, those children being:
- Robert Linkletter, deceased from auto accident
- Diane Linkletter, deceased from suicide
- Arthur Jack Linkletter
- Dawn Linkletter
- Sharon Linkletter
When Diane committed suicide in 1969 by jumping from her 6th story window, the story was given out that it was due to a flashback from LSD, though no drugs were found in her system. Art Linkletter still maintained that drugs were the cause of Diane's death and became an outspoken advocate of the government War on Drugs. He was appointed to President Richard M. Nixon's National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse Prevention.
Art Linkletter and Walt Disney were close friends. Linkletter helped celebrate Disneyland's grand opening in 1955 (an event which occurred on Linkletter's own birthday, July 17), and returned to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the park in 2005. He is the only celebrity to publicly attend both the grand opening and 50th anniversary. When the park opened, Disney could only pay scale for Linkletter's appearance. Linkletter requested and was granted the park's concession for cameras/film for 10 years, a move which proved to be quite lucrative.
Art Linkletter is known for his humanitarian efforts, being associated with the National Easter Seals Foundation, the National Heart Association, the Foster Parents Plan, and Goodwill Industries.
Art Linkletter is an advocate for senior citizens and is a motivational speaker. His lecture is entitled Old Age Is Not For Sissies, which is also the title of his 23rd book.
Some other projects which Art Linkletter contributed to were becoming Milton Bradley's spokesman for their Game of Life in 1963, which featured his likeness on the $100,000 bill as well as the box cover. He was a spokesman for National Home Life, an insurance company. Linkletter has been active politically, becoming an organizer and spokesman for the United Seniors Association. He is also a spokesman for USA Next, a conservative alternative to AARP. He appeared as the Grand Marshall for the 2003 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. He has been awarded 10 honorary Doctorate degrees, 2 Emmy Awards, (nominated for 4 Emmy Awards), and his most prized award, Grandfather of the Year.
He serves as Chairman of the Board for Linkletter Enterprises, a company with a multitude of business interests both domestic and international. He has served on the board for several other major businesses including MGM and Western Airlines.
1970 Grammy Award for recording We Love You, Call Collect.
2003 Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award
National Humanity Medal- Awarded by President George W. Bush
Lifetime Achievement Award- Academy of Television Arts and Sciences