When we decided we liked TV series during our childhoods, we REALLY liked them. Hence the longevity of shows like Art Linkletter’s House Party, which started on radio in 1945 and lasted 25 years.
One of the most delightful aspects of being out of school in the summer was being able to watch TV shows that you could otherwise not see, the VCR being many years into the future. One of my most eagerly anticipated daily viewings was Art Linkletter’s House Party.
I can’t remember exactly what time it aired, but I believe it was about 1:00 in the afternoon. The show would start with Art’s monologue, then progress to guest interviews, performing acts, quizzes where audience members could win prizes, and then the grand climax: interviews with kids.
Linkletter was a very appealing character to children. I remember just automatically liking the guy. And kids on his show were quick to open up to him, telling him ALL SORTS of juicy stuff.
Linkletter would frequently get the best (and most embarrassing) answers out of the kids by asking a very simple question: “Is there anything that your mommy or daddy told you NOT to say today?” Classic responses included “My mom is going to have a baby but my father doesn’t know.” Other kids hinted at daily visitors to the house that daddy didn’t know about, mommy’s frequent trips to the liquor cabinet, and other secrets now open to a television audience.
Art was a father figure to a generation of youngsters. He was like a family member to everyone else. Perhaps that’s why we were so deeply touched and hurt at his anguish when his daughter committed suicide in 1969, allegedly under the influence of LSD.
Art went on to become an outspoken opponent of drugs, and his voice had an impact. He frequently referred to losing his daughter, and the sheer pointlessness of the act. Today, he’s still alive and skiing. Still outspoken, he now is giving the message that growing old doesn’t mean getting old. In 2004, in an interview with Life Magazine, he boasted about still tackling the double diamond slopes.
Thanks, Art, for many happy summer afternoon memories of watching House Party.