Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Art Linkletter's House Party

You know that trite saying "Kids Say the Darndest Things"? That was Art Linkletter's fault. One of the segments on his "House Party" program, Linkletter interviewed kids between the ages of five and ten years old. It is usually claimed that this segment was unscripted. I have trouble believing that was always true. In the 27 year run of this program, he interviewed some 23,000 rug rats. I don't know when he picked up the segment, but it was before 1947. The show started like this:
"Come on in, you're just in time for the house party... and the man of surprises and a million laughs, Art Linkletter! Well here it is the middle of the week, and the House Party rolls along with it's 30 minutes of informal fun, games, gags, gimmicks and gifts and guests from all over the United States..."

The program It began running in the afternoons on CBS at 4:00 PM, on three odd days a week. In 1948 ABC picked up the series with GE staying on as the sponsor. CBS picked it back up in 1950 and continued to run the program until 1967. When it was sponsored by Pillsbury in 1950, it was the Pillsbury House Party.  General Electric, the original sponsor had been content for it just to be named "House Party." From 1952 onward it was just called "The Linkletter Show" the name didn't' matter, it was always hosted by Art Linkletter. You can hear an episode here.

Arthur Gordon "Art" Linkletter was actually Canadian by birth, if you weren't aware. He was abandoned as an infant and adopted by a preacher that relocated him and his new family to San Diego in 1917. He didn't attend college. Instead he became an announcer at KGB-AM in San Diego. Back then it was on 360 meters bu tit shifted to 1210AM probably about when Art was on the air. The moved to1360 in 1942 later becoming the well known KLSD-AM. In his 1950 autobiography Confessions of a Happy Man, he wrote about KGB in great detail. Linkletter began as an announcer in 1933, and was promoted to Program Director just a year later, and then Station Manager by 1936.  But that didn't stop him from leaving the station that year.

It was on KGB that Linkletter honed his schtick hooping it up and ad libbing with audience members.It was excessively wholesome by modern standards. But, while syndicated by CBS in most of the 1950s, the program had better than a 6 share in the Hooper ratings. By then the show ran Monday through Friday in the mornings at 10:30 AM. Linkletter hosted another, better known program at the same time "People Are Funny" which ran from 1942 to 1960. Under the title Art Linkletter's House Party, the show premiered on CBS television on September 1, 195. It's new sponsor was the Lever Bros' Company.

Both "House Party" and  "People Are Funny" made the leap to television cementing his career in the new media. he died last year at the age of 97.