I represent the first generation whom, when we were born, the television was now a permanent fixture in our homes. When I was born people had breakfast with Barbara Walters, dinner with Walter Cronkite, and slept with Johnny Carson.
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Art Linkletter was born Gordon Arthur Kelly in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. In his autobiography, Confessions of a Happy Man (1960), he revealed that he had 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 (née Metzler) and Fulton John Linkletter, an evangelical preacher.
Linkletter hosted of two long-running TV 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. He is the only person to have five network television shows running in prime time simultaneously.
In 1963, Linkletter became the endorser and spokesman for Milton Bradley's Game of Life. His picture appeared on the box with the statement "I Heartily Endorse This Game", and also on the $100,000 bills featured in the game.
Linkletter had one of the longest marriages of any celebrity in America (it lasted for 74.5 years, until his death). He married Lois Foerster on November 25, 1935, and they had five children: Arthur Jack (known as Jack Linkletter, a TV host), Dawn, Robert, Sharon, and Diane.
Linkletter outlived three of his five children. His 20-year-old daughter, Diane Linkletter, died on October 4, 1969, by jumping out of her sixth-floor kitchen window. Linkletter claimed that she committed suicide because she was on, or having a flashback from, an LSDtrip, but toxicology tests done after the incident detected no signs of LSD use, and it is quite likely that the drug played no part in her suicide. Linkletter spoke out against drugs to prevent children from straying into a drug habit. His record, We Love You, Call Collect, recorded before her death, featured a discussion about permissiveness in modern society. It featured a rebuttal by Diane, called Dear Mom and Dad. The record won a 1970 Grammy Award for the "Best Spoken Word Recording". His son Robert died in an automobile accident on September 12, 1980.