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Art Linkletter Collection

Identifier: MS-0391

Scope and Contents

The Linkletter Collection documents Linkletter's professional career as a radio and television personality, author, and public figure. The papers date from approximately 1940-2005, with the bulk of documents created in the 1960s and 1970s. The collection consists of subject files, scrapbooks, photographs, and memorabilia, and includes items in several differing media. The collection is divided into five series: Subject Files, Scrapbooks, Photographs, Memorabilia, and Media. The Memorabilia series includes three sub-series: General, Keys to Cities, and Plaques and Certificates. Aside from select recordings and highlight reels, the collection does not include the recordings of Linkletter's House Party radio and television series. Inquiries regarding the recordings of these programs should be addressed to the original production company or distributor: CBS (1952-1969), NBC (1969-1970), Screen Gems Television (1952-1970), or John Guedel Productions.

The Subject Files are arranged alphabetically by file title, and date from 1939-2005. These files document numerous television and radio programs that Art Linkletter was involved with, including The Art of Positive Thinking, House Party, and People are Funny, as well as other projects he involved himself in throughout his career. The series contains few records from Linkletter's very early career, or from his very late career, but is strong in documenting the middle of his career. The series includes scripts, teleplays, all correspondence in the collection, some marketing and promotional materials, and press clippings.

The Scrapbooks document Linkletter's advertising career, and the interaction between Linkletter, his family, and the media. One scrapbook documents Linkletter's anti-drug work, consisting of letters written to Mr. Linkletter from elementary school children in Appleton, Wisconsin, thanking Mr. Linkletter for speaking at their school. The scrapbooks are arranged numerically by scrapbook number.

The Photographs document Mr. Linkletter's varied career, including images of him shooting television specials with children, with Ronald Reagan, or Richard Nixon, and appearing on Great American Game Show. Most of the images are undated, and most individuals are unidentified.

The Memorabilia are arranged in three separate sub-series: General, Keys to Cities, and Plaques and Certificates. The General Memorabilia sub-series documents Linkletter's involvement in numerous community events, including the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and Friars Club. The Keys to Cities sub-series includes keys Linkletter was gifted from large and small cities and towns across the United States, and the Plaques and Certificates subseries includes numerous awards, certificates, plaques, honorary degrees, and other special recognition Linkletter received over his long career.

The Media series includes materials in various non-paper-based media. Several LPs, as well as books on tape and DVD's are included which document several of Linkletter's television, radio, and film performances throughout his career, as well as his subsequent career as a writer.


  • Creation: 1940-2005
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1960-1979


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

Arthur Gordon Linkletter was born July 17, 1912, in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. He was abandoned by his parents immediately after his birth, and adopted as an infant. He moved to Lowell, Massachusetts with his adoptive parents, and then migrated to California at the age of three. Linkletter attended high school in San Diego, where he was a star basketball player and swimmer. He graduated when he was 15, and subsequently spent 3 years drifting from state to state, working as a bus boy, meatpacker, and sailor until he was 18 years old. In 1930 he returned to California to attend San Diego State College. He participated in a wide number of extracurricular and athletic activities while at State, and graduated in 1934 with degrees in English and Psychology.

KGB, a local radio station, offered Linkletter a job as a radio announcer during his junior year at San Diego State. During the 1930s he participated in hundreds of radio programs, including one of the nation’s first man-in-the-street programs, which in turn led to one of the first live audience shows in radio. He was eventually promoted to Chief Announcer at KGB, and in 1942 decided to move to Hollywood and explore other opportunities in the radio and entertainment industries. While there he met John Guedal, with whom he partnered to create two of radio’s most memorable and popular productions – House Party and People Are Funny.

In the early 1950s Art Linkletter adapted both House Party and People Are Funny to the small screen, thus embracing the new medium of television, while continuing to air the programs on the radio. House Party ran on CBS for 25 years, and People are Funny aired on NBC for 19 years. Throughout these years he created several hare-brained audience participation shows, including Inside Beverly Hills (1955) and The Art Linkletter Show (1961). He was especially adept at interviewing children, whose unrehearsed and sometimes painfully honest remarks formed the basis of several popular shows including the television adaptations of House Party and People are Funny. These long-standing stints on radio and television have given Linkletter a trustworthy, easygoing, and honest image, which has made him an ideal spokesman for a variety of consumer products including breakfast cereals, canned foods, tobacco, and even new neighborhoods in suburbs across America.

Throughout his career, Linkletter has published books, articles, websites, and speeches on various subjects. He has written over 26 different books, the first of which appeared in 1947 and is eponymous with his most popular show, People Are Funny. His more recent interest in senior health and well-being prompted the book, Old Age is Not For Sissies, which was published in 1988. He has published two autobiographies, Confessions of a Happy Man (1960) and I Didn’t Do It Alone (1980). Linkletter’s most popular book, Kids Say the Darndest Things, has illustrations drawn by Charles Schultz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoons.

Art Linkletter is often referred to as “America’s Grandfather” and is renowned and trusted for his work with children because of the carefully constructed questions and lighthearted interviewing style that endeared him to many Americans during his long career in show business. His own family began with his marriage to Lois Foerster in 1935. Linkletter always credits his family (which now includes 8 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren) as the primary joy of his life. He and his family have borne tragedy with the premature deaths of two of his children. His daughter's death in 1969 prompted him to begin national and international dialog about the reasons for drug use and abuse in our everyday lives.

Linkletter sat on the boards of directors for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Western Airlines, and Kaiser Hospitals. In 1979 he served on the President’s National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse Prevention, the Presidential Commission to Improve Reading in the US, the National Coordinating Council on Drug Abuse Education and Information, was the Ambassador of Goodwill Abroad for the US Department of Commerce, and a member of the US National Commission for UNESCO.

Later in life, Linkletter owned and ran at least eight businesses, built and managed public storehouses, office buildings, livestock operations, real estate development, and cattle and sheep stations in Australia. Linkletter Oil Enterprises has operated throughout South America and the US. He sat on the YMCA's board of directors, the Boy Scouts of America's public relations committee, chaired the John Douglas French Foundation for Alzheimer's Disease board, and served as the United Seniors Association's National Spokesman. He passed away in 2010.


16.78 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I. Subject Files, 1939-2005

II. Scrapbooks

III. Photographs

IV. Memorabilia

     1. General

     2. Keys to Cities

     3. Plaques and Certificates

V. Media

Source of Acquisition

Art Linkletter



Art Linkletter Collection
Ellen E. Jarosz
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US