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Cartoon Culture

Art Linkletter (1912-2010)

When I heard the news that Art Linkletter had passed away, I didn’t think that was something to mention on Cartoon Brew. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was wrong. Mr. Linkletter was one of the most popular TV hosts of the 1950s and 60s. He was a personal friend of Walt Disney’s, and co-hosted the opening ceremonies of Disneyland on live TV in 1955. His celebrity was such that he was caricatured in Warner Bros. cartoons, and Universal Pictures used him to introduce the Russian animated feature The Snow Queen in a live action prologue for their 1959 U.S. theatrical release (btw, does this footage still exist?). Charles Schulz illustrated and Walt Disney contributed an introduction to his best-selling book, Kids Say The Darnest Things (click thumbnails below).

So here’s to you, Art Linkletter. Rest in peace. You entertained the public and made many (especially us baby-boomer kids) very happy with all you did.

  • Apparently Walt Disney’s surviving family weren’t such big fans of Art Linkletter, though. A few years ago, I was in Burbank, browsing through used bookstores. One of them had a number of first edition Art Linkletter books (including KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS) in the window for sale…all personally autographed by Art to Walt Disney himself!

    By the way, Mr. Linkletter was never finer than when he appeared in the 195o film CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR, playing the role of a smug and smarmy TV host…type-casting at its finest!

  • I was introduced to Art Linkletter at a Disney event some years ago. As I reached over to shake his hand, he saw the look on my face and said, “Thought I was dead, didn’t you?”

    Since that time I was able to join Art at a number of Disney events. Few people seemed to even know who he was, but in my day he was the biggest star on radio and television.

    I’m gonna miss you, Art.

  • Brendan Spillane

    I may add that Daws Butler, who was to Hanna-Barbera what Mel Blanc was to Warner Bros., voiced beloved television host ‘Art Lamplighter’ in “People Are Bunny” directed by Robert McKimson.

  • Scarabim

    Art Linkletter wrote the forward to the excellent book “How To Be Like Walt”, detailing how he first met Walt Disney during a screening for “Fantasia”. Walt, at the time, was setting up folding chairs for the event. Which was not, as Art pointed out, what you’d expect the leader of a very powerful movie studio to be doing. But that was Walt. He wanted everything to be perfect and he was willing to do even the most menial task to make that happen. It was a warm reminiscence, and very enjoyable reading.

    My dad had a copy of “Kids Say The Darndest Things”, for which Charles Schulz did the illustrations. (This was when Charles was at the peak of his comic prowess – the drawings are every bit as charming as the prose). I read it as a kid and loved it. I’ve always had a great affection for Art Linkletter because of that book. God speed, Art. Say hi to Walt for me.

  • uncle wayne

    And who could forget on CBS, every weekday at 1:30….and the best title of a tv show ever: “House Party!” This is verrrry eerie to get this news today: Just this MORN I was viewing some great y.t. of him!! A tv icon, for sure!! You can purchase a DVD of “Kids Say the Darnedest Things” in every Cracker Barrell restaurant in town, btw! It is an absolute joy.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    There are some Public Domain releases of The Snow Queen that feature the intro with Linkletter in it if anyone cares to find it, not sure though about the original elements/negs to it however.

  • Roberto Severino

    Oh no. Not another animation-related death. 2010 is turning out to be a sad year indeed. I’ve never heard of Art Linkletter before your post, but it sounds like he had a big impact and influence on his time period, and even gained recognition from Charles Schulz, Disney, and Chuck Jones. Amazing. He sure will be missed. R.I.P.

  • Universal Pictures used him to introduce the Russian animated feature The Snow Queen in a live action prologue for their 1959 U.S. theatrical release (btw, does this footage still exist?)

    I don’t know if there’s any surviving film of that footage, but I got a cheap Christmas VHS tape some years back that included the Linkletter-introduced version of The Ice Queen. I’ve uploaded a screencap from the introduction, if anyone’s interested; just click on my name.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    That looks like a scene from “The Snow Queen” Jody. I do have the whole intro anyway but don’t feel like sticking that up on YouTube at the moment.

  • FP

    I have a mint-condition copy with dustjacket of that Schulz Linkletter book. It cost a quarter at Goodwill. It’s pretty cool.

    HOUSE PARTY was a fixture of my pre-school days. His show was on after a local show hosted by a society-page matron. I thought it was the same show and he and she were married.

  • Don Peri

    Art Linkletter was a giant on television when I was growing up and he will be forever linked to Opening Day at Disneyland. Some years back when we were planning an event for the Disneyland Alumni Club, I called Art’s office to see if he might be available to be a featured guest. To my surprise, ten minutes later Art called me back and we had a wonderful conversation. Just last September, he sat behind me on a bus at the D23 Expo, and at 97 he was still a great conversationalist. Art is part of the fabric of our popular culture and I will miss him.

  • Greg Ehrbar

    “The Snow Queen” is floating around in all those public domain VHS and DVD bins, sometimes on its own, sometimes in a set with other films. I’ve been looking for a decent print for years, since each I have found so far has various flaws based on whatever chewed-up films the distributors could find.

    The Linkletter introduction is usually, but not always, included on most of these releases. And while you’re watching, look for Billy Booth as one of the kids. He was Tommy Anderson on “Dennis the Menace.” The kids all seem to be quoting lines from “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

    Art Linkletter was a ubiquitous part of life in the latter part of the 20th century, and was even on the box cover for The Game of Life! Whenever I hear his voice, it really takes me back.

  • David Breneman

    I too remember watching “House Party” in my pre-school days.

    [sarcasm] Good thing kids have much more appropriate television fare today like Barney or Teletubbies. [/sarcasm]

    I have a promo EP put out by Royal (the OTHER gelatin and pussing company] for Linkletter’s Columbia LP (HL-7152) “Kids Say the Darndest Things!” The front cover features artwork of Linkletter reading to a group of kids (hard to make out the last name of artist’s signature – it looks like William Traig?). The back cover is divided between a plug for other Columbia comedy LPs, and a Royal ad, which offers:

    Thank you for trying Royal Gelatin. Why not send Art Linkletter’s LP record to friends and relatives? This time try Royal Puddings. For each record requested enclose 50 cents plus three Poyal Pudding package fronts (Cooking Type or Instant).

    The EP itself has several interviews Linkletter did with kids on his show, with Linkletter introducing each bit. The great thing about it is that he never talks down to, nor panders to, the kids. It was a product of his world outlook that allowed humor to flow out of the conversation itself. I could just imagine someone like Letterman or John Stewart trying to pull this off. They couldn’t do it without being cynical or condescending.

  • When I read in the news that Linkletter had passed and they mentioned he was the long time host of “People are Funny” I immediately made the connection to “People are Bunny”. As Linkletter’s show was before my time I was unaware of the cartoon titles origin. Now I know.

  • Just a note to Greg Eherbar: Linkletter’s photo was on the Game of Life! because he invented it. That’s why his photo was on the $100,000 bills that came with the game.

    My favorite Linkletter anecdote is one he told in the “E” Ticket #40. He had a chance to build the hotel at Disneyland but didn’t think the park would do that well so he turned Walt down. Years later while walking along a sidewalk in front of the hotel he though with each footstep “that is another million I missed out on”.

    Of course his opinion of the park’s prospects reversed after he co-hosted the opening day telecast. Walt as a thank you for helping launch the park let Linkletter have the film concession at the park for the first 10 years. That probably partly made up for not grabbing the hotel offer.

  • UGH! I thought Linkletter created The Game of Life but I discovered on further net sleuthing he was just the endorser. My bad.

    And he was an investor in it. Which I guess is appropriate since his later years were spent pursuing business and philanthropic interests…

  • Linkletter teaches kids where they came from:

  • Jody Morgan

    That looks like a scene from “The Snow Queen” Jody.
    You’re right; I don’t know why I keep making that mistake…

  • Rooniman

    The death list keeps growing…