What a life. A poor orphan, he became one of America’s most beloved personalities. He was married to his wife, Lois, for 75 years. He is survived by two daughters, seven grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. A daughter and two sons preceded him in death.
He believed humor was best when unscripted.
His greatest legacy was the concept of allowing children to provide the spontaneous humor for a show, instead of professional entertainers with memorized lines.
On his daytime TV variety program “House Party,” which aired from 1952 to 1970, Mr. Linkletter asked children simple questions. He asked one boy: “What do your parents do for fun?”
“I don’t know,” the boy replied. “They always lock the door.”
In all, Mr. Linkletter interviewed more than 27,000 children, and the segment was later reprised in 1998 as a full-length show on CBS hosted by Bill Cosby called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Looking back, Mr. Linkletter said he wanted kids to just be kids but in doing so unintentionally “invented reality TV.”
We had a copy of his book, Kids Say The Darnedest Things, in my childhood home. I’d practice my reading with him. And laugh.
He asked one 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,” Karen said.
“And what do you think you’ll be when you grow up?”
After a long, full life, he went to this reward.
Linkletter died at his home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles, said his son-in-law, Art Hershey, the husband of Sharon Linkletter.
“He lived a long, full, pure life, and the Lord had need for him,” Hershey said.
Indeed. There is a special place in heaven for those who love the laughter of children. Rest well, old friend.
UPDATE II: Linked by The Anchoress!