Arthur Gordon “Art” Linkletter was a Canadian-born radio and television personality and the host of two long-running United States television shows: House Party, which ran on CBS radio and television for 25 years, and People Are Funny, on NBC radio-TV for 19 years. Linkletter was famous for interviewing children on House Party and Kids Say the Darndest Things, which led to a successful series of books quoting children. A native of Canada, he became a naturalized United States citizen in 1942.
Linkletter was born Gordon Arthur Kelly in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In his autobiography, Confessions of a Happy Man, he revealed that he had no contact with his natural parents or his sister or two brothers since he was abandoned when only a few weeks old. He was adopted by Mary and Fulton John Linkletter, an evangelical preacher. When he was 5, his family moved to the United States to San Diego, where he graduated from high school at age 16. During the early years of the Great Depression, he rode trains around the country doing odd jobs and meeting a wide variety of people. In 1934, he earned a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State Teachers College, where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. While he attended San Diego State, he played for the basketball team, and was a member of the swimming team. He had previously planned to attend Springfield College, but did not for financial reasons.
He earned a degree in teaching, but took a job as a radio announcer at KGB in San Diego. Radio paid better than teaching, and Linkletter directed radio programs for fairs and expositions in the mid-1930s. In the 1940s, Linkletter worked in Hollywood with John Guedel on their pioneering radio show, People Are Funny, which employed audience participation, contests, and gags and served as a prototype of future game shows on radio and television. People Are Funny became a television show in 1954 and ran until 1961.
Other early television shows Linkletter worked on included Life With Linkletter with his son Jack and Hollywood Talent Scouts. He also acted in two movies, People Are Funny and Champagne for Caesar. He also guest-hosted The Tonight Show three times .