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Larry King Live

Art Linkletter Discusses His Career in Television

Aired June 30, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, he says it's better to be over the hill than under it. Art Linkletter, broadcast pioneer, best-selling author, former ambassador, one-time elephant owner, he's here for the hour and we'll take your calls. Next, on LARRY KING LIVE.

One hundred and ten years of broadcasting coming at you tonight. I've got only 43, our guest has 67. He started the year I was born. He's Art Linkletter. He was on a show we did a while back about aging, and he did so well and so many people wrote in and asked about him that we thought we'd give him an hour tonight to kick off this holiday weekend. Art Linkletter, broadcasting pioneer, hosted shows at one time on all three networks, hosted "House Party" and "People Are Funny." You won't need to throw a benefit for him. He's made a lot of money -- more money off the air than on -- he's made a lot on. What a career.

It's great having you with us. How old are you? How old will you be on July 17th?

ART LINKLETTER: I'll be 88. And I'm reminded of this because on my way in, a few people outside, I heard somebody say, if I didn't know he was dead...

KING: Dana Carvey asked last night if you were still alive.

LINKLETTER: Yes.

KING: Why are people surprised to learn that you're alive?

LINKLETTER: Well, I think they're more surprised to learn that at 88 I travel 200,000 miles a year, speak 70 times a year, have four, five businesses I run, surf, ski, and I look at the girls. I can't remember why, but I look at them.

KING: Maybe it's because you're not on television regularly, and that's the...

LINKLETTER: Yes. When you've been on all three networks at times for 35, 40, 50 years and you don't show up, you can be busy all over country, but they only know you're there in Savannah or Kentucky.

KING: Let's go back and trace the career of Art Linkletter. We'll be taking lots of calls for Art tonight and showing you some great clips, too. I was -- remember on the aging show, when we asked about diseases, you don't know you were adopted, so you have no way knowing...

LINKLETTER: Yes, I -- about my genes.

KING: Yes.

LINKLETTER: And I stopped worrying about that after I was 55 or 60, because not only had I lived without any bad habits or any bad occurrences, but I learned through my work at UCLA as the president of the center on aging that lifestyle after 40 or 50 is more important than genes. Because you can have best genes in the world, and if you smoke three packs of cigarettes a day, you can forget about your genes.

KING: Were you raised by a Linkletter couple?

LINKLETTER: Yes, he was a Baptist minister and also a shoemaker during the week. I have...

KING: What...

LINKLETTER: I have to smile because I always think of that awful thing, he saved souls seven days a week.

KING: But anyway, he was a man, he was old even about 60 when he adopt me. And I was freshly born in Moose Jaw, so it was like being brought up by grandparents.

KING: You're Canadian.

LINKLETTER: Yes, Canadian.

KING: But raised in San Diego, right?

LINKLETTER: Yes, they made a great move from Moose Jaw to San Diego. Now that is a tremendous decision.

KING: In 1933, to select broadcasting, that was infant -- I think KDKA went on in the 1920s, right?

LINKLETTER: Yes, and I was going to college learning to be a college professor, because I wanted to safe job where you could have a lifetime of no worries.

KING: Tenure.

LINKLETTER: Yes, and now I'm in this business where you have a five-year contract and 10-minute options. But...

KING: How did you begin?

LINKLETTER: Eh?

KING: How did you begin? LINKLETTER: In radio?

KING: In broadcasting, yes.

LINKLETTER: Just as an announcer. I had written...

KING: Knocked on doors?

LINKLETTER: I had written a musical comedy for San Diego State College and I was a debater and prominent. And a guy down at KBG, the CBS station down at San Diego heard about me. And I was waking Waldorf salads in the college cafeteria one day, one of my five jobs working my way through school. The phone rang, and a guy said, I'm a Lincoln dealer. I've heard about you. Would you bike to be radio announcer? Now this was 1933. You know when that was?

KING: Depression.

LINKLETTER: The depths of the Depression. You didn't ask what the job was, what the pay was, you didn't ask about stock options, or -- you said yes.

KING: Yes.

LINKLETTER: Now if he'd said, would you like to be grave digger, I would have said yes, or a brain surgeon, because you took anything you could get.

KING: Did you like it right away?

LINKLETTER: No, I just thought it was a temporary job. And as I began to analyze my talents and what I heard on air, the beginning of radio, I could see no room for me. The people who made money were singers, musicians, actors and comics. Nobody else made any money, and I couldn't do any of that.

KING: Staff announcers didn't get paid well?

LINKLETTER: No, no, I was making $70 a month.

KING: A month?

LINKLETTER: A month. And newscasters, they weren't paid anything extra. Sport announcers -- I was doing football games here on the Pacific Coast for $15 a game.

KING: So when did Linkletter find his niche? What developed?

LINKLETTER: I was just about -- it was my last year in college, and now I got -- I'm an announcer, but I've also got a degree to teach English. I have a job at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School and I'm going to quit. I haven't told them yet. And then something happened. You know, in life something happens.

KING: What happened? LINKLETTER: I was sitting at the board, we called it, the local station. And over the board came from CBS in Dallas, Texas, two young guys doing a crazy thing, insane thing that had never done before. They took a microphone on a long cord out the window down on the street, and they were asking people who they were, what they did, what they thought, where they were going.

KING: Man on the street.

LINKLETTER: Man on the street -- first time. There had been no quiz shows. And I said, that's what I can do, talk to people, because, hell, I'd spent most of my life in school at the principal's office. You know what for.

KING: So you started a show talking.

LINKLETTER: So I started. I went right on the street and started, and I've done man on the street, man in the gutter, man in the hospital. And then the first simple game shows came along, where you asked, what do you do and something and you get $1 -- cheap nothings. And I got right into that. And I began to invent shows. "Are You a Genius?" "Earn Your Vacation."

KING: All at the local station in San Diego?

LINKLETTER: No, I went to Dallas, and then I went to San Francisco, all local. But I moved around. And, in fact...

KING: Go to the network in the '40s?

LINKLETTER: I went to the network in the '40s with my partner, John Goodall. I had an idea for a show called "Meet Yourself" with a psychologist. And we'd do crazy things, and then he'd tell us all about the person. John had a show called "People Are Funny" with a psychiatrist, psychologist. We got together, we were partners, we stayed partners for 50 years.

And during that time, one year we had five, six shows on the air nationally. We had my show, we had Groucho Marx, we hired a young kid around here to do a show called "Earn Your Vacation" -- Johnny Carson, whatever happened to him?

KING: We'll be back with more of Art Linkletter -- what a career. We'll be taking your calls, too. This is LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "PEOPLE ARE FUNNY")

LINKLETTER: Who is this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You silly man.

LINKLETTER: You stinker. You know who I am.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arthur Linkletter. LINKLETTER: That is right.

Vincent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?

LINKLETTER: I know you're going to go out in a while, but I had Mary hold you there because this is a call from a young lady...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LINKLETTER: .. who is trying to win $300 to see if she could keep you on the phone for two minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She had me.

LINKLETTER: And this once again proves that people are...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Funny.

LINKLETTER: Thank you. Good night, Vince.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good night, Art.

LINKLETTER: You did it, you did it. Three hundred dollars, and there it is. I think he's a nice guy. Goodbye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS")

LINKLETTER: Right now, if you were grown up and you could marry somebody famous in the world, who would you marry, Billy?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Zsa Zsa Gabor.

LINKLETTER: You would? Why?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because she's won so many Academy Awards.

LINKLETTER: Well, yes. I can't remember any of the official Academy Awards. Who would you marry, Crystal Garrett?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I would marry Dean Martin and Art Linkletter.

LINKLETTER: You'd marry both of us? Why would you marry the two of us?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because Dean Martin, he talks too much and Art Linkletter's pretty.

LINKLETTER: I can't argue with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: When did it start with kids?

LINKLETTER: In San Francisco.

KING: On the local...

LINKLETTER: I was doing a local show called "Who's Dancing Tonight?" at the St. Francis Hotel, brought to you by the Albert S. Samuels Company, house of lucky wedding rings. And I was home one time with a recording machine. In those days -- you remember? -- we recorded with big wax coming up, they were cut. I was interviewing my son Jack, he was 5, just at home for us. And he was so funny, I took the record down and I said, you'll never guess who's dancing tonight in San Francisco. And they put the record on, and here's this little kid talking.

Now they'd heard kids before, but they were always quiz kids or talented kids -- but just a kid. You know, I asked him, Jack, I understand you went to school for the first time today. And he says, yep. And I said, did you like it? He says, I ain't going back. I said, why not? He says, well, I can't read and I can't write and they won't let me talk.

KING: Now when you started to incorporate it as part of a show -- "Kids Say the Darndest Things" became a show later. Cosby does it now -- did you own that show?

LINKLETTER: It wasn't called anything at that time.

KING: Did you own that show?

LINKLETTER: Yes.

KING: It was part of a show.

LINKLETTER: It was part of "The House Party." And it was just five kids. And I went to the board of education in Los Angeles and said, can I go into the schools and take kids out of the classroom and put them on a commercial show? Now you and I know in L.A. the suspicion and selling I had to do to get the board to let me take them out. And so the teachers picked them in the schools. I didn't know who they were or why they were picked. And they came fresh to me, no pre-interviews, and the four kids and I just had it out.

And incidentally, I asked one kid, I said -- I'll never forget -- I said, why do you think the teacher picked you out of the whole class to be one of the four? He says, I'm the smartest kid in the room. I said, did your teacher tell you that? He said, no, I noticed it myself.

KING: Kids say the darndest things.

LINKLETTER: Oh, they do.

KING: Is it -- was it -- I used to do a lot of kids too early on -- it's more fun. They're more honest.

LINKLETTER: Oh, they...

KING: The most honest.

LINKLETTER: Yes, they may be -- they may say something, but they're honest about it. I think the two best interviews in that lane are kids under 10 and people over 70, because kids don't know.

KING: Don't care.

LINKLETTER: The old people don't care, and the kids don't know what they're saying, you know?

KING: As Rickles said, what are they going to do to me?

LINKLETTER: That's right.

KING: This -- all this success, you also at the same time had business success, right?

LINKLETTER: Yes, yes.

KING: You knew what to do off the air, which a lot of people don't.

LINKLETTER: Well...

KING: Was that a natural acumen?

LINKLETTER: No, it wasn't. I grew up poor. I never had any money. I was a hobo, you know, ride the freights.

KING: You did?

LINKLETTER: I did all that. And I never had any money. And when I started making money, I found I had a partner -- Uncle Sam. And this was at the time when the income taxes were going like this. And as I got into the real money, I was paying 93 cents on the dollar counting California and federal. So I thought, I got to do something with this money. So I was going into treasure hunts and, you know, for maps that you buy and you go right out and the gold mine is waiting for you. Inventors got to me, con men got to me. And after losing a certain amount of money, I began to learn how to do business. So I was a -- I was a trial-and-error guy. And I had lots of money because money was coming in ways that I never dreamed of it. And I just...

KING: You told me one day a guy came into your office with a simple little thing, he just started moving it. It was the hula hoop.

LINKLETTER: Yes, he said...

KING: You backed that, right?

LINKLETTER: Yes, I backed the hula hoop. And I had a lot of other people come to me with ideas that turned out well.

KING: You brought motels to Australia, right?

LINKLETTER: That's right.

KING: They didn't hear of them until you.

LINKLETTER: That's right. And I also had a sheep ranch in Australia, a million-acre sheep ranch.

KING: Why then did you keep working?

LINKLETTER: I loved it. I like what I'm doing. Today at 88, I wouldn't think of quitting because I can't think of anything else I would rather do. And now with my lectures on all the charitable things that I do, just as you do, I think that what I'm doing matters.

I'm big in education. I think education is the most important thing in the world for our kids. So I'm out speaking at schools on the importance of education. I'm on the board of regents at Pepperdine University. I'm the center in all these things.

KING: You haven't lost one sense of the mind apparatus, right?

LINKLETTER: No.

KING: And that's kind of lucky because you know a lot about Alzheimer's.

LINKLETTER: That's right. At 88, I have a 50 percent chance of getting Alzheimer's. That starts at about 60 with about a 1 percent chance unless it's early onset in which case it's the genes.

KING: But you show no signs of it, right?

LINKLETTER: I haven't -- I don't think I've lost a step yet.

KING: All right.

LINKLETTER: Only once, about five years ago, I was on the stage telling a joke that I knew well, and I'm thinking, as you do when you're talking, what will I do next. And then it occurred to me I couldn't remember the end of the joke. And I thought, well, I'll keep telling it. And as I get to the end, the tag line will all come to me. I get to the tag line, nothing came to me. So I said, now, ladies and gentlemen, I'm approaching the funniest part of this joke and it is a wonderful joke. And I can't remember what it is.

KING: Always be honest.

LINKLETTER: And, of course, it got a bigger laugh. Honest, you've learned that and I've learned it.

KING: Oh, a long time ago.

LINKLETTER: Be honest with your audience. KING: You never lose.

LINKLETTER: If the guy doesn't show up that you're supposed to interview, tell why.

KING: It ain't brain surgery.

LINKLETTER: That's right. One time Bob Mitchum -- you remember the star? He arrived...

KING: Drove me nuts.

LINKLETTER: ... in terrible shape. He had dark glasses, had a cigarette. And I said to him, Mr. Mitchum, you don't really want to be here with me, do you? He said, no. I said, why don't you go home. Go home. And he left.

KING: Those were the days. We'll ask Linkletter lots of other things, too. There's lots of areas to cover. We'll take your phone calls. We hope you're enjoying this as much as I am.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS")

LINKLETTER: How did your folks meet and fall in love? Todd Haynes (ph), did you ever hear the story?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes.

LINKLETTER: What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: They were both in -- they shared one camp. My mother was a counselor, my father was a counselor, and they met and they got married.

LINKLETTER: Oh, wonderful, just from being in a camp?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes.

LINKLETTER: Yes, and then you were born.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes, three months later.

LINKLETTER: Three months later.

Louise Saber (ph), how did your folks get more -- married.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I don't know, but my mom and dad sleep together, and that's how I know they're married.

LINKLETTER: That's one indication.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ART LINKLETTER & THE KIDS")

LINKLETTER: Hello.

Are you ready?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: You make me giggle.

LINKLETTER: You are a giggler. Are you ticklish? Tell me, Susan, do you have a boyfriend?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: No.

LINKLETTER: Can I be your boyfriend?

All right. Have you got a date for tonight?

Can you dance? Would you like to dance with me.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: No.

LINKLETTER: You wouldn't? I'm a good dancer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, couldn't work today, could it, as a strip show? Could "House Party" work today?

LINKLETTER: I don't think, no.

KING: "People Are Funny" work today? Today we're "Jerry Springer."

LINKLETTER: Yes, that's the thing that disturbs me, because there are so many people who apparently want to hear the seamy side of life about people who are in trouble.

KING: Why do you think that is?

LINKLETTER: I think there's a -- I don't think it's universal, but there are a lot of people who kind of feel, as bad as I'm doing, they're doing worse, you know?

KING: So we enjoy it in a vicarious kind of way?

LINKLETTER: Yes, kind of a -- and I don't blame Springer and Stern and the rest of them, I blame the number of people who listen. I mean, they're just selling the stuff they want.

When I used to be on the board of directors of MGM and there was a board meeting, occasionally a little old lady would come up to me and say, why are you making these terrible pictures? I'd say, why are you going to them?

KING: Sure.

LINKLETTER: We're just a lumber yard. If you want teak you get teak. If you've got pine, you get pine.

KING: What do you make of reality TV, "Survivor," "Big Brother is coming?

LINKLETTER: Oh, I think -- yes, if they had brought "Survivor" to me and I had been the vice president of CBS, I would have thrown them out of the office.

KING: You would have?

LINKLETTER: Yes, I don't think it works, and yet it's working. And the reason so, I say, if you take 16 people and put them on a supposed desert island, and everybody knows there's a thousand cameramen and producers and directors and boats and everything, and then they're not professionals and they don't have anything special to say, but it's working...

KING: Because of this same thing, we want to pry into...

LINKLETTER: I don't know. I don't know why.

KING: "Big Brother," we're going to put people in a house.

LINKLETTER: Maybe it's because, like a beauty show, which is always big -- the Miss Universe I've done, you have, too -- that everybody's betting on Miss Oklahoma or Miss Jones. But these people are in need of an identifier. You don't identify with them very much.

KING: What do you think of "Millionaire"?

LINKLETTER: I think it's a very smart show, well produced, beautifully done. Regis is doing a great job.

KING: Perfect host.

LINKLETTER: It's a marvelous show and it has everything going for it.

KING: We have always liked quiz shows.

LINKLETTER: Yes.

KING: They were the staple of radio for a time.

LINKLETTER: Because you're playing the game at home. Everybody's saying, oh, I know the answer to that. And, of course, if they were sitting there with the lights on them, they don't even know their own name sometimes.

KING: That's right.

LINKLETTER: But it's a big difference.

On the other hand, I think that Regis is a fine host and I think he deserves it, because when I was doing "People Are Funny," he was a young kid being kicked around by Joey Bishop right across the street. And he himself has said those were two of the worst years of his life, because Joey made a horse's neck out of him. He was a young kid, and to see him -- and he was around. He was on this show, he was on that show, and then he got the morning show and it worked -- and I love to see a guy stay there...

KING: Me, too.

LINKLETTER: ... and work and keep going and then finally get paid off.

KING: The secret of a good quiz show host is almost stay out of the way, right? Be there...

LINKLETTER: Yes, a quiz show host is like a traffic policeman. You've got to keep the thing moving. And that's why I never cared about doing game shows. These are the shows I like, where we're flying free. We don't know where we're going to go next and what's going to happen, and you've got to like it. And of course in quiz -- in this kind of show, the audience has to like you, because neither you or I have much talent.

KING: On that note, with the observation that he'll never be back, we'll take a break and return with Art Linkletter.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "PEOPLE ARE FUNNY")

LINKLETTER: Now see how much you know about your little girl. What's her name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heidi.

LINKLETTER: How old is she?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One year.

LINKLETTER: Boy or girl?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Girl.

LINKLETTER: So far, you're doing well.

And this your only child?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only one.

LINKLETTER: First child?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First.

LINKLETTER: How old are you, Mr. Jennings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty-six.

LINKLETTER: Forty-six, what kept you? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, looking around.

LINKLETTER: You were looking around?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LINKLETTER: How long you been married now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three years.

LINKLETTER: Three years. In other words, you were a bachelor 43 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

LINKLETTER: Boy, this made a change in your life, hasn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can say that. Are you a good dad?

In other words, do you handle the changings and everything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no.

LINKLETTER: You don't do that? Maybe you'd better let me hold her. I get along with children better. Yes, I know how to handle her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, Art Linkletter wrote a book once. He wrote many books, but "Kids Say the Darndsest Things" was the No. 1 best seller for two years. He also wrote "Old Age Is Not for Sissies." And he once emceed a famous Friars roast -- I'm the abbot of the Friars now here in Los Angeles...

LINKLETTER: Are you?

KING: ... so this is historic -- the roast at which Park Your Carcas, the father of Albert Brooks died.

LINKLETTER: That's right.

KING: You were the emcee. It was hysterically funny, I heard, and died after his bit.

LINKLETTER: Yes, I was sitting there -- it was a roast in honor of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz at the height of their fame. I'm sitting there and Lucille Ball is saying to me as he's performing, oh, I wish I could do that, because she was not a stand-up comic. She was like...

KING: And he was funny, Park Your Carcas.

LINKLETTER: She was like Jackie Gleason. She could play comedy parts, but she wasn't a talker.

KING: Right.

LINKLETTER: And I said, he's dying right now on the side. She said, what do you mean? I said, he's nervous, he hasn't eaten dinner. I know that this was his comeback. He had been kind of off the Eddie Cantor show and this was his chance. I said, he's just absolutely fracturing them, but he is both elated and nervous about what's happening.

Now he comes back and he sits down next to Milton Berle, three to my left, puts his head on his shoulder and passed out. Now we didn't know he died, but he -- all of a sudden, it looked like he was sick and he just passed out. And I said -- and I was looking around. And Ed Wynn came up, and he'd been sitting with Harry's wife. And he said, ask if anybody's got any nitroglycerin tablets. I said, it's a heart attack. Now this is on the mike. I said, anybody here have a nitroglycerin tablet? We could have had enough to bury him. Everybody had them. Everybody has heart problems, see?

But in the meantime, Dr. -- there was a famous heart doctor there. And they came up and they took him off stage, carried him off stage, and now there's a deadly pall over this whole happy group and I'm the emcee.

So I'm looking up and down the table. There's stars from one end to the other, and all of them are saying -- and finally -- that included Don Rickles. And finally I looked at Tony Martin. I said, Tony, this is no time for humor. Come up and do a song for us. Tony came up and the orchestra was ready. And you know what he sang?

KING: What?

LINKLETTER: There's no tomorrow. There were three more heart attacks. And Desi Arnaz came, and I said, Desi, come on up here. I said, there's no use of kidding about this. We can't go on with the roast. Here is the gold heart. And he took the heart, he took the gold heart thing and he said, 10 minutes ago this would have been the most important thing in our lives. Now it doesn't mean a damn. Wasn't that interesting? And that ended a tough night.

KING: We'll be back with more of Art Linkletter on LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS")

LINKLETTER: You're both 8 years old, and what about it?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Well, we're going together real good.

LINKLETTER: Well, that's one way of putting it.

You two are going steady?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes.

LINKLETTER: How long have you been going steady?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Three years.

LINKLETTER: Are you getting married?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: We don't know yet.

LINKLETTER: How old do you think a boy should be before he kisses a girl?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Seventeen or so.

LINKLETTER: Wow, you've got a lot of patience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're having a lot of fun here tonight with an extraordinary man. But there has been tragedy in his life. The first time I met Art Linkletter was back in '60s. We did an interview and we talked about the loss of his daughter, a drug-related suicide. He had a son killed.

LINKLETTER: Yes. In the same two-year -- three-year period.

KING: How do you get over something like that, or don't you?

LINKLETTER: You never want to really get over it. But you have to make your life over again because the death of a child is the worst pain that a parent or anybody can -- it's like a stab in the heart, not just because you are losing a child, who means so much to you, but you're losing their future. You say, gee, they didn't live, 19 with her whole life ahead of her. And the son was 31. He was killed in a car crash.

You have to do something that John Wooden told me once upon a time. He says things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. You have other children. You have a life to live. You can't be bitter and cynical and angry because it is going to spoil your life and the life of the family.

KING: You got very involved in drugs, though. I mean, in the drug movement...

LINKLETTER: Oh, yes.

KING: ... anti-drug movement.

LINKLETTER: Norman Vincent Peale, the famous minister whom I knew well called me he said: Art, a minister has the most difficulty in trying to tell someone whose child has been taken from him why the lord would do this. But he says in your case, you are loved by the family. You're part of the American family. And we are facing a drug-abuse epidemic. And you can help, and make a cathedral. You can make a memorial in Diane's name by being a drug-abuse crusader. And I started to learn about it. I went back to Washington finally and became a member of President Nixon's first drug abuse commission. I spoke at the United -- U.N. in drug abuse. And I lectured all over country. I was helped by the Lutherans, and the Boy Scouts, and I was at all kinds of places. And I made something out of this. And it made all the difference in the world.

KING: She jumped out of a window, didn't she?

LINKLETTER: Yes. She took her own life after being drugged on LSD, which of course, takes a whole life of its own.

KING: Was it tough for you to leave the media, to leave broadcasting?

LINKLETTER: Yes, it was. And I didn't leave for a while. I gradually was absorbed by this drug-abuse crusade. And I wrote the book "Drugs at my Doorstep." And then my whole life changed. I began to realize it was payback time. And I went around the world for World Vision, and appeared and raised millions of dollars for the work they've done in 46 different countries.

KING: For a long time now you haven't needed any money.

LINKLETTER: No. I didn't need the money. But I needed the feeling of helping other people who were hurting. That is how I came to be a volunteer at UCLA and become a member of the Center on Aging. It is a reason why I recently have taken up my -- the American leprosy mission. I went to Kalaupapa in Molokai and entertained lepers years ago. We don't like to say lepers. They're the victims of the disease.

And then just a few months ago, this wonderful mission that is down in Greenville, South Carolina asked me to represent them and talk and help them because they're -- they now can save lepers and the people who have leprosy in six months, and for $200.

KING: Really.

LINKLETTER: They can save children. Last year they saved 39,000 people who were destined to have a life of disfigurement and disability because it's not fatal, you know.

KING: People don't want to go near them, though.

LINKLETTER: No. Remember from the Bible times. But now they have a way to cure them. And they have people out looking for them in the jungles -- and in the -- because they are pushed into the places where the family doesn't want them around.

KING: They're ostracized.

LINKLETTER: They're ostracized. And so this wonderful mission has been part of my life. And so those are the kind of things that I began to do.

KING: Art served in many capacities, worked with President Reagan.

Let's take a call. Berlin, Maryland. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. Mr. Linkletter has been a part of my 57 years of life and I just wanted to know: Does he have a personal credo, or words to live by that the rest of us could follow? He is such a great example.

KING: What's your philosophy?

LINKLETTER: Well, my philosophy is whether there is that whether there's a heaven or there isn't a heaven, I'm going to behave decently, not for a reward but because it is the thing to do. I have, of course, having been orphan, very early in life began to adopt orphans overseas for the foster parents plan. I've adopted 11 orphans of all colors and descriptions. I have been pushed into visits -- places like a leper colony in Kalaupapa. My...

KING: Your philosophy is...

LINKLETTER: My philosophy is to do the best you can for somebody. Help. It's not just what do you for yourself. It's how you treat people decently. The golden rule. There isn't big anything better than the golden rule. It's in every major religion in one language or another.

KING: Do unto others...

LINKLETTER: Yes.

KING: If you live by that, you almost can't do anything wrong can you?

LINKLETTER: That's right. That's right. And I have been involved, of course, in many YMCA adventures because they were like parents to me when my parents were older. The Y took me and taught me basketball and swimming and I became lifeguard saved many beautiful girls who might have drowned.

KING: Gainesville, Georgia. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry and Art. Art, you have given the public so many wonderful moments in television. I'm wondering, as you think back over your magnificent career, what's the greatest moment that you ever experienced in television?

LINKLETTER: Well, that is very interesting.

KING: Did you have a...

LINKLETTER: One of them occurred on this new show that we put on three years ago, "Kids Say the Darndest Things" with Bill Cosby. The very first show, I thought would -- I went to CBS with the idea of an hour show, not a weekly. We put on this hour show. So, one of the ideas was to get some of the kids back from my early things and see how they had changed. So I went on a local show here, said if you would like to be on this show, call in. They got 2,700 calls because I interviewed 27,000 children.

Now unknown to me, they kept the name and address of all these. And they used one or two on the show. But for this program, at the end of the program, they said we want to go out and talk to Bill Cosby just for four or five minutes. We're not going to tell you what it's all about. So I went out on stage and Bill says: It's been a great show, Art. We had a great time. Wasn't it a great audience; 700 wonderful people. I said, yes. He said, every one of these people was a child on your show in the last 40 years.

I felt tears. And they all came forward. And they crowded around me. And they their had presents that they had from 40 years ago. Now they are grown people, some of them gray hair. And was like going to an orphanage, and they said, these are all your children.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Art Linkletter after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS")

LINKLETTER: I have been thinking about doing some different kind of a show than "House Party." Last year I did the "Hollywood Talent Scouts" and, of course, I used to do "People Are Funny." What you would suggest for me as a new career in television, Eric?

ERIC: Superman.

LINKLETTER: The fellow in the underwear who flies from place to place? What do you see me as, Terry?

TERRY: The Green Hornet.

LINKLETTER: With the stinger and all.

Russell, what do you see me as?

RUSSELL: Batman.

LINKLETTER: You are kidding! Heather (ph), you've got to have a better suggestion than that.

HEATHER: James Bond.

LINKLETTER: You all see me as a kind of a hero, do you? Isn't it interesting? That is how I see myself.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Next call -- what's the story with you and an elephant?

LINKLETTER: I was invited to go to India by Nehru, who was a great lover of children, and he thought I was a kind of a Pied Piper of children in America. And so he wanted me to come over and tour India, and see the children of India. They called him Chacha, uncle.

And as a final -- I had a big adventure all over India. In Madras, they had a final farewell dinner for. And as a surprise gift, they gave me an elephant. It was a baby elephant, about this high. And we thought, isn't that wonderful, Lois and I. And then after the dinner, everybody left and we said, well, what do we do with the elephant?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What did you do?

LINKLETTER: Well, the man who brought it out of the jungle was a ranger, and he said, well, we can keep it for a while. And I happened to be on the board of the Flying Tiger Line. So I called Bob Prescott in Hollywood. I said, "Bob" -- the president -- "Art Linkletter in India." He said, "Oh, good. What can I do for you, Art?" I said, "Well, I have a present here and I'd like to have it flown home." He says, Yes, what is it?" I said, "An elephant." He said, "oh my god, no. I said, "Yes." And they arranged it.

So I -- I timed it so when I got home the elephant was arriving by way of the Flying Tiger line, and I had it at my house.

Now I've got to tell you...

KING: At your house?

LINKLETTER: In my house, in my garage, with an Indian boy, 75 years old, who came with it.

Now, I've got to tell you that I...

KING: You're putting me on, right?

LINKLETTER: No, not putting you on.

I'm living in Holmby (ph) Hills, which outside of Bel Air is really a nice place. In my block was Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Hoagey Carmichael, Bing Crosby. I was the only person in the neighborhood I'd never heard of, And here were these famous people, and I was not a part of them at all.

Now, all of a sudden, I'm the only one with an elephant. And Liza Minnelli and all the rest of them...

KING: Come over.

LINKLETTER: ... wanted to come over. And I said, we'll have an elephant party, but you've got to bring your parents. And that's how -- that's how I broke into Hollywood society.

(LAUGHTER)

They came to see the elephant.

KING: Cranston -- where is it?

LINKLETTER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the zoo right now. Go on, take a look at him. You'll see what he left behind in my garage.

KING: Cranston, Rhode Island, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Mr. Linkletter, how are you?

LINKLETTER: I'm fine, having the time of my life.

CALLER: Great. You are a charm. I want to thank you for putting a smile in so many young children's lives.

LINKLETTER: Thank you.

KING: Yes, he did that. What's the question?

CALLER: Are you available?

KING: Oh, yes. Are you? Is your wife still with us?

LINKLETTER: My wife and I are celebrating our 65th wedding anniversary, but she lets me out on Wednesday afternoons.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What's the secret of longevity in wedded bliss?

LINKLETTER: To be married happily you have to have a sense of humor and you have to communicate. Don't go to bed mad. In other words -- and this is very important: You can disagree, but you don't get disagreeable. That "a-b-l-e" is the big difference between disagree. And by being friendly, you can always get by things.

And then, of course, if you have a sense of humor. Lois and I might have an argument, and if I see it getting serious, I say: Honey, this is getting serious. If it gets much more serious, I'll have to kill you.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Montgomery, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Mr. King.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Mr. Linkletter...

LINKLETTER: Yes, ma'am.

CALLER: How did you stay so good looking?

KING: Aha!

LINKLETTER: Well...

KING: By the way, how do you -- obviously, do you do -- have you had work done? LINKLETTER: No. No.

KING: You haven't been touched?

LINKLETTER: No. And...

KING: You're 88 years old, going to be 88.

LINKLETTER: Yes, and I don't wear glasses to read. I see well. I have my own teeth. I hear well. Place -- those are the three things that happen.

KING: Of course, but how do you explain it? You don't know your parentage.

LINKLETTER: I don't know my parentage, genes, but I have taken good care of myself all my life. I've never smoked. I don't drink. And I've never -- brushed my teeth, you know, all of that stuff.

And I've always worked out. Before I came down to do this show, I did 25 laps in my pool. I swim every afternoon.

I go to the office every morning at 10:00. I have a lot of business all over the world. And then I go home about 3:00 and I swim. I have two 10-pound weights. I have a bicycle. I take good care of myself.

KING: And your son Jack Linkletter, who did a lot of television...

LINKLETTER: And I've been married a long time. Do you know that the longer you're married -- now I'm treading on thin ground here with you.

KING: This one is forever.

LINKLETTER: You add them all up and you've got as many as me. But...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You'll never be back here.

LINKLETTER: I'll never be back.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

LINKLETTER: But by being married, married men live longer and better than single men. In survey after survey, in England, France, Italy, thousands of men, they live better because they have a woman taking care of them. You know...

KING: Yes, it's a pretty good theory.

LINKLETTER: ... you have a better schedule.

And so I've had a good life. I owe it all to Lois.

KING: You do?

LINKLETTER: Yes.

KING: And Jack Linkletter, how's he doing?

LINKLETTER: Just fine.

KING: Used to watch him on TV. He's not on media anymore.

LINKLETTER: No, he's a lecturer now. He speaks on breakthrough leadership in business all over the country. And I...

KING: He headed the Young Presidents.

LINKLETTER: Head of the YPO he was for many years.

I now have 11 great-grandchildren, nine grandchildren, or eight, something like that. And I've had five children. So I've had a family life, family-oriented. And by staying together, I think I've, you know, taken care...

KING: You're proving something. We'll be back with more of Art Linkletter after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "ART LINKLETTER & THE KIDS")

LINKLETTER: Now, what's your mother and dad do after dinner mostly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he sits up and watches "Space Patrol" or movies or something -- cowboys and Indians.

(LAUGHTER)

LINKLETTER: Your dad does. And what does your mother do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother: She's out there scrubbing the floor, doing something like housework.

(LAUGHTER)

LINKLETTER: Poor mother. Dad's out there watching "Space Patrol" and your mother's in there scrubbing the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And after she gets done, she comes out and does some watching television.

LINKLETTER: Well, that's good.

Say, I have a little book here with some words in it. I'd like to hear you -- see if you can define these words for me. What's a politician, Jimmy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A politician? LINKLETTER: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a man that -- it's a man that prints and writes.

(LAUGHTER)

LINKLETTER: Yes, I guess he does. What's a henpecked husband?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Henpecked husband? Well, that's a man -- it's a women that picks on his husband and says -- gripes because he goes to work and don't do things nice and like that.

LINKLETTER: You'll never be a henpecked husband, would you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I won't.

LINKLETTER: I'll bet you won't.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Hour flies by. Newman, California, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Art, you look marvelous.

LINKLETTER: Well, thank you.

CALLER: My question is to you, is what are your experiences during the grand opening of Disneyland with President Reagan back in 1955?

KING: You opened it, right?

CALLER: Thank you very much.

LINKLETTER: Oh, yes.

Walt Disney and I were very good friends, and one day he asked me if I'd -- if I'd open Disneyland for him, and I said, "Sure, I'd love to." And he says: "Well, Art, he says why don't you have an agent. I'm not used to talking to people without an agent." I said, Well, I do my own stuff, I never had an agent." He says, well, he says, "You know, I can't pay you very much." And I said, "How about scale, Walt?" He said, "$200 for an hour special?" I said -- well, I said, "Well, you could do something for me." He said, "Well, what's that?"

I said, "Well, you know, you're going to have concessions at Disneyland, aren't you?" He said, "Yes." I said, "I'd like to have the camera concession for all films and all cameras for 10 years." He says, "You've got it."

KING: That dirty -- how did you do with that? (LAUGHTER)

Valley Springs, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Mr. Linkletter, I have really admired you for years, and I've been recently diagnosed with cancer. And I was just wondering, if you were diagnosed with cancer or any other serious illness, what would you change immediately in your life other than what the doctors have told you? What would you do differently in your lifestyle or mentally or spiritually? What would be the first thing that you would do to help yourself with fighting any disease?

LINKLETTER: Well, the first thing I'd do would be to learn everything I could about the disease. I'd read about it, talk about it, get a lot of different opinions of it. I'd go to the best people, get second opinions, follow everything they did.

In the meantime, I would live my life to the best of my ability. I have spent a lot of time since I've been working with seniors -- as a matter of fact, I'm the spokesman for the United Seniors Association of America, and we do work for the financial of older people, and lobbies and things like that. And I go to nursing homes, and I see people who are sick, and I talk to them, and I say: "Well, think of the wonderful life you've had. Don't think of the future. Just live it to the best of your ability. See the ones you love. Make up with the ones if you have any enemies. Forgive the ones who have hurt you." And just live -- do the best you can with what's happened. It's not your fault. Don't feel guilty. And be around those who love you.

And I speak in hospices. That's where they're giving six months to live by Medicare, you know. You go there to die, but you better die in six months or Medicare takes the money away. That's one of the things the USA fights against.

So anyway...

KING: Don't give up.

LINKLETTER: Don't give up.

KING: Learn.

LINKLETTER: Learn, appreciate your life, and make peace with your Lord.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Art Linkletter after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS")

LINKLETTER: What is a perfect gentleman?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A man that takes a bath every night.

(LAUGHTER) LINKLETTER: Is your father a perfect gentleman?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS")

LINKLETTER: What did your mother tell you are or your father?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say, yes, sir. No, ma'am.

(LAUGHTER)

LINKLETTER: And the other way back again. Oh, that's fine.

Are you having fun today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

LINKLETTER: You say yeah?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

LINKLETTER: Yes what.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

That's good. That's fine. Yes, sir, and no, ma'am. Remember that now, huh?

Going to lunch with us today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes -- sir.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's get in one more call for Art Linkletter. London, England, hello.

(AUDIO GAP)

KING: Hey.

LINKLETTER: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH). I do not speak the French.

KING: Very, very good answer.

LINKLETTER: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

KING: You're -- how could you could have an opinion like that?

LINKLETTER: Because...

KING: With the trouble we're facing in this country you would dare to say that on a live program around the world...

LINKLETTER: I know it, I know it.

KING: It just is impossible to me that you would even think that, Art.

LINKLETTER: Now, we're seeing the real Larry King.

KING: What's the best thing about getting old, if there is a best thing?

LINKLETTER: I don't know. I asked a 100-year-old lady that question once: What's the best thing about being 100? She says, there's so little peer pressure.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I had a friend turn 80, and he said: It ain't good, 80 ain't fun.

LINKLETTER: I feel...

KING: You would belie that.

LINKLETTER: No, no, no. I enjoy every minute. Now, I've been lucky. I don't have a chronic disease. I haven't had a lot of, you know...

KING: You haven't had major illness.

LINKLETTER: No, major illness. And I love life.

KING: Do you feel 88?

LINKLETTER: No. I feel 87.

(LAUGHTER)

No, actually, I...

KING: How old do you feel?

LINKLETTER: I feel about 50, 55. I ski. But I don't ski from 9:00 to 5:00. I ski from 10:00 until 3:00. I surf 4-foot waves, not 8-foot waves. I exercise moderately. I do things. I get nine hours sleep every night.

KING: You do?

LINKLETTER: Yes, very important, sleep. I have a good breakfast. That's very important. In survey after survey, scientifically, a good breakfast is very important.

KING: Now, when you watch television, do you want to be on?

LINKLETTER: No, not particularly.

KING: No?

LINKLETTER: I'd like to do your show in case anything happens to you. In fact, I have an idea. We ought to do a show some time -- when some star stiffs you and doesn't show up, give me a call, and I'll come down, and you and I, two of the people who have done more interviewing than anybody in the history of broadcasting, will face off each other mono-a-mono. I get to ask you a question, you get to ask me a question.

KING: Why don't you host...

LINKLETTER: And I'll bring out outrageous things that you've been hiding for years, because I know...

KING: Old people say the darndest things, don't they?

(LAUGHTER)

You ought to host this show one night.

LINKLETTER: I'd love to.

KING: Great.

LINKLETTER: What's the money in it?

KING: Not bad.

LINKLETTER: Got any retirement benefits.

KING: No, but I'll give you the camera concession.

(LAUGHTER)

LINKLETTER: Larry...

KING: Thank you, baby.

Art Linkletter. We hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.

Tomorrow night on Larry King Live, Bob Costas, a man who loves baseball, tells us what's wrong with it.

Stay tuned for CNN NEWSSTAND.

For Art Linkletter and the whole crew here in Los Angeles, have a great July 4th. Good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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