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Interview with Art Linkletter

Aired January 22, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, broadcasting legend Art Linkletter. This straight talking conservative is going to be 91 years old. Stayed married to the same woman for 60 years. From devastating personal tragedies to those kids who say the darndest things, he's seen it tall, done it all, talk about it all too.
Art Linkletter for the hour with your calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We have about a once a year visit with one of the great legends in American broadcasting, Art Linkletter, in the early days of radio and television. He's one of America's best loved broadcasters, the host of "People are Funny" and "House Party," best-selling author, popular public speaker, president of the United Seniors Association, national spokesman for that organization. And we always like to have him come aboard. We take your phone calls and talk about lots of things.

You were mentioning before we went on that you had a very good day. today


KING: You made some money today.


KING: What happened?

LINKLETTER: Well, 18,000-foot deep well I was drilling with some other people in South Texas came in with substantial amounts of gas. It will last for about 20 years.

KING: Are you a wildcatter?

LINKLETTER: Yes. Not real wildcatter. I like to drill what we call in-field drilling, surrounded by wells that are already there.

KING: How did you get into something like that?

LINKLETTER: About 35 years ago, when I was really starting to make money, I found that I had a partner named Uncle Sam. And I began to look at ways to keep some of the money I was making.

KING: You didn't like Uncle Sam?

LINKLETTER: I love Uncle Sam, but I didn't want him to take all my money. So, I founded an oil well drilling. You can write off all of the intangible drilling, which is a big hunk of the money that goes against your income.

And then when you hit something ,you get a 15 percent tax-free return on the part of your money and you get a long life.

KING: Republicans have it good.

LINKLETTER: Oh, Republicans!

KING: Anyway...

LINKLETTER: Are you kidding?

KING: How much -- so you made a lot of money today.

LINKLETTER: Yes, I made some money.

KING: Now, how -- will this make any difference in your life at all?

LINKLETTER: None at all.

KING: So, if that didn't hit today -- or it did hit today...

LINKLETTER: Would make no difference.

KING: So what do you do with money you accumulate at age 91 when you already have all the money you'll ever need?

LINKLETTER: I do what a lot of people do in America. I give it away. I give it away to all kinds of charities and have and I continue. I favor children's charities, orphans, discouraged children, the Children's Bureau of Los Angeles, where my wife is very active.

KING: Are they all in the will?

LINKLETTER: Well, they're given money as I go along for various things. I get a call for something they're starting out, or I give money to education for universities.

KING: Frankly, at 91, do you think about, as Woody Allen used to say, as you reminded me before we went on, I think about dying, I just don't want to be there. Do you think about leaving us?

LINKLETTER: Yes, I do. After you're 90, you know -- when you're 90, you're technical amount of time left, according to the average is 3 1/2 years. Now, those go by in about 10 seconds. And you can't help but feel that way.

KING: Are you apprehensive?

LINKLETTER: No, no, no.

KING: Don't worry about it? LINKLETTER: I'm worried about one thing. I hope to go to heaven. My father was a Baptist minister and St. Peter's at the gate. He's Baptist. So I'll probably get in.

But the one thing I worry about in heaven, I don't know what I'll be doing up there. Because I like to do good and everybody up there is already good. I told this to Billy Graham once.

I said, What are you going to do in heaven? You can't preach. Everybody's made it. So I say, what am I going to do? So, I'll find something to do.

KING: We're all over the board tonight. We're going to discuss a lot of things.

LINKLETTER: Anything you want to talk about.

KING: One gentleman I asked you about before we started that you knew very well. What can you tell us about Walt Disney?

LINKLETTER: Walt Disney...

KING: His name is part of the nomenclature.

LINKLETTER: That's right.

I first got to know Walt very well when he was asked by the president of the Olympic Society to provide entertainment for the athletes and the officials at the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley. And he called me and he said, Would you like to come along and be my master of ceremonies and assistant producer? So I went up and lived with him and his family, brought some of my family. And we presented shows to all of those -- we flew stars.

KING: And were friends ever since?

LINKLETTER: We've been friends ever since.

KING: Was he eccentric?

LINKLETTER: No, he wasn't eccentric.

KING: Did he ride around in a little train in his backyard?

LINKLETTER: Yes, but he was childlike.

KING: Childlike.

LINKLETTER: Childlike, not eccentric. He saw things like a child. He loved kids. He loved what they do.

And what people don't know about him is he was very good with his hands. In his garage back there, with all the trains that ran and later went to Disneyland some of them, he had a barrel. And on the top of the barrel, was a menstrual man in black. And when you pressed the button, he did all kinds of dances. And then behind, in that barrel, were all the machines that made him do all those dances. And Disney built them all by hand.

KING: You said he wasn't very interested in making a lot of money. That wasn't his goal.

LINKLETTER: No, it really wasn't. And he didn't live ostentatiously. He lived well. His brother handled most of the money affairs.

KING: Roy.


And Walt was interested in creativity and he was kind of a perfectionist.

KING: Do you think he should be shocked at what he'd see now of Disney World and Tokyo and Paris? Orlando...

LINKLETTER: He'd be a little surprised at some of it. But it's beautiful what's out there. In fact, they got a new show down at Adventure Land called Aladin that he would be delighted with. It's one of the best shows I've ever seen.

KING: Was he frozen at death?

LINKLETTER: Frozen? I don't think so.

KING: They said he was cryonically frozen.

LINKLETTER: I don't think so.

KING: Would you do that?

LINKLETTER: No. No. Once is enough.

KING: You also have that great story you told us last time. Disney wasn't able to pay you when you emceed the opening of Disneyland, so instead he gave you the...

LINKLETTER: Well, he said to me, Art, he said, why don't we -- he was talking about asking me to be the emcee of the opening of Disneyland. And he said, I'm in a great disadvantage in talking to you. Why don't you have an agent like everybody else? I said, Well, Walt, I just do my own stuff. He said, we're friends. I said I'll do it for practically nothing. He said, will you? I said, Certainly. We do thins for our friends.

Now, for instance, you have some things you are going to give out. You aren't going to do everything there. Restaurants and parking and films for everybody who comes there to buy films.

KING: A photo concession.

LINKLETTER: Yes, a photo concession. I'd like to have that. He says, Good. It's a deal. Now you see, we had no agents. We got together. KING: So you had -- if you bought film at Disneyland, you got a cut.

LINKLETTER: Yes. But I only had it for 10 years.

KING: Oh, poor Art. It was a sad day when it ended.

LINKLETTER: The Kodak people once said to me, Mr. Linkletter, you own the world's largest automatic film vending machine. Disneyland.

KING: OK. What was it like being grand marshal with Mr. Cosby and Mr. Rogers at the Tournament of Roses?

LINKLETTER: Well, it was wonderful.

To begin with, the Pasadena people really know how to put on a show. They ought to. They've been practicing this for 114 years. I have been in lots of parades, all kinds of them, but nothing like this.

KING: Because?

LINKLETTER: It has everything taken care of. My grandchildren were along. Everywhere we went we were in a limousine with police escorts. They gave us banquets. They took care of everything. And then when the parade came, it was like surfing. Have you ever surfed?


LINKLETTER: When you surf a wave, you just ride that wave right through until it stops.

KING: You surf?

LINKLETTER: Yes, I have surfed all my life.

This was riding a surf of sound. A million people lined up solidly for 2 and a half hours and as they saw you coming they rose up and applauded. And as you went by died out. And the new crowd was just -- it like going through a tunnel on a surf board and the tunnel was sound.

KING: Wow.

LINKLETTER: And you've never saw so many people so excited and so happy.

KING: That comes from radio, describing things like you just described. I can picture it.


KING: That came from the old days. We got lots to things to talk about.

You're going to meet with the president next week about? LINKLETTER: United Seniors Association has been working very carefully with this administration in four or five different things in which they have already made as part of their plan.

One is the modernization of Medicare, which is way behind science and practice of they are. The revision of USO to take care of the fact that it's going to broke in a few years unless we have changes and old people are interested that their changes aren't going to be heard.

Then we believe the death tax is unfair and not right. We believe that older people should have prescriptions, you know, that they can afford. And so I'm going to be talking to him about ways that I can help, as I did during the campaign.

Anybody who is running for office, anybody, on either side, who follows these wishes of ours and in 19 of the precincts that I -- of the states, they were elected, out of 20.

KING: This administration, though, has had some problems with seniors. Seniors -- some other organization feeling they don't do enough.


KING: Haven't done enough in the area of HMOs and the like, which they think rips off seniors.


Our USA is only concerned with the financial future of seniors. We are, not like the AARP, with a great many lobbying things. Started by Senator George Murphy. And since I enjoy working in that field, I'm -- after all I'm older than most everybody in the world, even though I invented children. That was years ago.

KING: Linkletter is president of the UCLA Center on Aging. He is the national spokesperson for United Seniors, and will meet with President Bush, in that area next week. He will be 91 on July 17. We're going to...

LINKLETTER: You have to keep saying I'm that old?

KING: Because that's an honor. Are you kidding?


KING: Are you kidding?

LINKLETTER: All right.

KING: Wow. We'll be right back with Art Linkletter. We'll include your phone calls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LINKLETTER: I am very delighted and very honored to be joined the ranks of very interesting and important people who've been grand marshals all through the years. I have been watching this parade for the last 45 years. I was in it once riding in a float...

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) Art Linkletter, some harem girls and a genie fashioned with thousands of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) petals.




LINKLETTER: Supposing you were the president. What would you do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would sit on the pot and think about it.

LINKLETTER: Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think you'll admit, that is one of the most Democratic things a president could do.


KING: Art Linkletter, who "Kids Say The Darnest Things" he made famous interviewing children. Always good to have him with us. We're going to call early tonight. So get them and get on early and we'll get to as many as we can.

Image versus reality. Aging in America. Look at the team at "60 Minutes." They're all -- most of the top ones are pushing 80, over 80, Don Hewitt the producer.

LINKLETTER: That's right.

KING: What do you make of this?

LINKLETTER: Well, the older people in America are making their way into more and more thins because they're not quitting work. One of the most amazing things that society today is not recognizing is that our people getting older but they don't realize they're not quitting work, because they love their work. The people who are fortunate...

KING: Because there's a danger in that, right? Because then you're supposed to move it along.

LINKLETTER: But there's not a lot of young people getting along. People are getting married later and having fewer children. Were having a birth (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But us old people are filling that, thank goodness. People who have a passion for living and love what they're doing don't want to quit. As a matter of fact, about 73 percent of people over 65 are busy doing one of two things: either making money at what they like or volunteering in the all the things in the community.

KING: There still is an obsession with youth.

LINKLETTER: Of course.


KING: Television shows are in trouble.

LINKLETTER: Well, the reason is that people don't really want to get old but when the alternative is considered and, of course, I think if you're going to get old you might as well enjoy it. That means continuing to learn, be challenged, watch your health. Don't get into bad habits.

KING: You take care of yourself, right?

LINKLETTER: Very good. Very good.

KING: OK, What do you make of modern television and realism shows?

LINKLETTER: Well, I have to laugh at all of the stuff they're talking about as if realism was just invented, sending people out to do crazy real things with no script and no rehearsal. Ralph Edwards and I were doing that back in 1941. He had a wonderful show called "Truth or Consequences" where he made things do things.

And I had a show called "People Are Funny," where we'd rig a fake contest, have the winner go up to San Francisco with her husband. And while they were gone, we'd steal their house when they came back. They came back and we had them search for the house.

KING: That was realism.

LINKLETTER: Yes. We'd take a guest out of the audience to have them go out in the ocean in an plane and throw a capsule in the ocean and see where it would go. And came up six months later down in the South Pacific. We flew a native boy here carrying shells and everything. He'd take in two weeks before he could get to the Navy station to get in touch with us. And when the -- when he left, we gave him a couple thousand dollars. He built a reservoir so the people for the first time in the history of the island could have water.

KING: So nothing's new then.

LINKLETTER: Nothing's new. Human beings are doing outrageous interesting funny things. And today they're doing them, I think, outrageously. Lot of the shows I don't like. I don't like shows where people are eating bugs and worms and are being scared to death by being shut up in coffins.

KING: Why do people watch them?

LINKLETTER: Because lot of people like to see sensational things. Why do people watch professional wrestling? You got me.

KING: How did you start with kids?

LINKLETTER: With my own son Jack, when he was 5. I was doing a show in San Francisco called "Who's Dancing Tonight" at the St. Francis Hotel. I'd get guests.

KING: "Who's Dancing Tonight" at the St. Francis Hotel.

LINKLETTER: Big name bands in the early '40s.

KING: What station?

LINKLETTER: KFRC. And I, one time, had a homemade recording machine, which made a wax record, not a tape. I interviewed my son Jack. Came home from his first day at kindergarten. I said, are you going back? He said no. I said your not going back to school? You just started. Why not? He said, I can't read, I can't write and they won't let me talk.

KING: And that gave you the idea.

LINKLETTER: And I put it on. I put it on locally. Mail came in from all around San Francisco saying, what a wonderful thing to see a kid talking who's not a professional rehearsed, written, so forth, just kids, and I remembered that. When we put together our magazine show called "House Party," the on thing that was on every day five days a week, 52 weeks a year for 26 years were kids. We didn't call it "Kids Say The Darnest Things." that was the name of my book. They were just kids.

KING: You had -- the unique thing you as a radio performer was your voice. A very distinctive voice. Anybody knew when Art Linkletter was talking. You were able to make that transition to television easily, right?

LINKLETTER: Yes. I was hoping it would come along because we were doing things...

KING: That were visual.

LINKLETTER: ... were visual, and I was describing them. The trouble was, when we got into television, we found out that -- if a show wasn't working right, and I would describe it as working right, it was seen as not working right. If we gave an old lady, a woman for instance, a chance to pick out a new hobby out of a bucket. And It said skunk training. We brought out a skunk and gave her, and she was supposed to say, oh gosh. Said, oh, that's very nice, petted it. Well -- it took the steam out of it. So when you have everything on camera, you have surprises.

KING: How do you explain your very good memory?

LINKLETTER: I have always had a good memory. In fact, one of the things I did to skip grades in school when I graduated from high school I was 15. Was that I could go in and take a test and it was like reading the stuff off of a page. It was like cheating. The five treaties of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Paris. I could just copy it off of my mind. And two weeks month later I couldn't remember who the teacher was. KING: Yes.

LINKLETTER: But I had -- I have a good memory.

KING: You all -- I mean, you had an extraordinary life. I'm hop scotching here because we have interviewed you so many times. You were a hobo, weren't you?

LINKLETTER: Yes. Between high school and college, I was 15, almost 16. I was too young to go to college. I had no money anyway, but everybody was looking down at me. I was 2 1/2 years ahead of my generation. Girls wouldn't dance with me. I couldn't make varsity in the basketball game. I played class B when I was a senior.

So I said, I'm going to take a year or so off. Had no money. Started hitchhiking. Then I started riding freight trains. Then I started being a sailor on ships.

KING: Trailers for sale or rent, rooms at 50 cents. Right?


KING: Ain't got no cigarettes.

LINKLETTER: That's right.

KING: Old stogies, I have none. What was that like, riding trains?

LINKLETTER: It was exciting.

KING: You were a bum.

LINKLETTER: Yes, I was a hobo. Bum is something else. A bum asks for money. A hobo works for it.

KING: We'll take a break and be back. We're going to include your phone calls for Art Linkletter. Don't go away.


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


LINKLETTER: How old is she?


LINKLETTER: Boy or girl?


LINKLETTER: So far you're doing well. And this your only child? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only one. LINKLETTER: First child. How old are you, Mr. Janes (ph)?


LINKLETTER: Forty-six? What kept you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was looking around.

LINKLETTER: You were looking around?


LINKLETTER: How long you been married now?


LINKLETTER: Three years. In other words you were bachelor 43 years. Boy, this made a change in your life, hasn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can say that.

LINKLETTER: Are you a good dad? In other words, do you handle the chainings and everything?


LINKLETTER: You don't do that. Maybe you better let me hold her. I get along with children better. I'll handle her.




LINKLETTER: What is a perfect gentleman?

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

LINKLETTER: Is your father a perfect gentleman?


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To say yes, sir and no ma'am.

LINKLETTER: And the other way back again. That's fine. Are you having fun today?


LINKLETTER: Did you say yeah?




LINKLETTER: That's good. That's fine. Yes, sir and no ma'am. Remember that now. Going to lunch with us today?



KING: The Linkletter takes. Takes were as funny as the bits. Let's go to some calls for Art Linkletter. A true legend. San Francisco, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Art?


CALLER: Yes, hi. Listen, I want to say one thing before I ask you my question. About 25 years ago when I came on board with Western Airlines I remember meeting you in the back room of the Reno office when I first came on board.

Anyway, my question to you is this, Art. Back in the '50s when you had "People Are Funny," whatever happened to George Foghorn the little fourth grader who you used to have on your show "People Are Funny?"

LINKLETTER: Yes, little Georgie.

KING: I remember him. What happened to him?

LINKLETTER: He was about 5 years of age and had a voice of a man about 40. And when he talked he was so funny. He got into movies. And he made two or three movies and with pretty good success. And then a terrible thing happened to him, he grew up. That's what happens to kids. They go from kid to that area there where nothing.

KING: Pensacola, Florida, for Art Linkletter, hello.

CALLER: Hi, good evening, Larry and Mr. Linkletter. Mr. Linkletter, I wanted to know, speaking of your wonderful memory you have there, say in your 30s, what's one of your favorite memories of the United States then and could you compare it to one of the favorite memories of today.

KING: What were the good old days like?

LINKLETTER: In the '30s, well we had radio and it was a wonderful medium. And it was family medium and kids didn't use four letter words when they were 12 years of age. And things were much calmer.

KING: Easier. LINKLETTER: Easier. Larry was talking about me being a hobo for instance. Today I wouldn't dream of having a kid ride freight trains. We never heard of serial killers then. There must have been some around but we didn't hear about them. And all of the sinful things. Everything then was much sweeter.

KING: What do you think caused that? Too much -- too many people?

LINKLETTER: I don't know what caused it, except it's probably man's insatiable quest for the unusual and exciting.

KING: Why is that -- why would that be different now then...

LINKLETTER: Well, now -- today we have it in color.


KING: That's it. Knoxville, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: My name's Greg Hammer (ph) and I appreciate everything that Art Linkletter's done and everything. And I just wanted to ask him if he is going to do a kids are (sic) the darndest things program again with Bill Cosby because I really enjoyed that.

LINKLETTER: No, but the excerpts from some of the thousands of shows that I did will soon be on the market in the...

KING: Infomercial?

LINKLETTER: You know, in an infomercial so you can buy them and take them home. And I'm still talking to kids.

KING: By the way, you told me once in Florida years ago, you put up the honey for the hoola hoop.


KING: The guy came into your office and just did it and you bought it.


KING: Buck a piece they sold.

LINKLETTER: That's right. And you know what was wrong in being in the hoola hoop business?

KING: What?

LINKLETTER: You couldn't patent it. Anybody could copy it. And so you had to get in, sell the devil out of it and get out of it before you warehouse was full and you had no customers.

KING: Beverly Hills, Florida. Where, caller, is Beverly Hills, Florida? CALLER: Hi, Art and Larry.

KING: Where is Beverly Hills? CALLER: Beverly Hills, Florida is about hour and a half north of Tampa on the Gulf side.

KING: Never heard of it. Anyway, welcome aboard. Go ahead.



CALLER: First of all, I want to thank you for all you have done for military wives. I know lot of people know that you've done so much for children. I thank you for all that you've done to recognize military wives.

And my question is, with the war against Iraq eminent, when you meet with the president, do you think you could stir some interest again and actively support the military wives?

LINKLETTER: I certainly would try, because it was a very happy time in my life. The Air Force flew me all over the world. We did all kinds of shows. And then the American Women's Club picked of all the special guests that we filmed the Military Wife of the Year of all the five things. We had a dinner in Washington, the president, Nixon, came and his wife. The Pentagon came there. And we saluted the things that wives do who are married to men over seas in dangerous situations.

KING: Think we're going to war?

LINKLETTER: I think we are.

KING: Portland, Oregon, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: I'm absolutely thrilled. I got through. I just wanted to ask Art Linkletter what is his secret for successful parenting? And how many grandchildren and great grandchildren do you have?

LINKLETTER: Well, first place I have been married to the same girl for 67 years, so they've had a nice stable household where the woman did not work, was not interested in a career.

KING: You're not knocking that, are you, though?

LINKLETTER: No, no. But she wants that, and I think it helps. I think the best time the children can spend with parents is all the time. Can't do it all, but you can be there.

And we also had -- we had three girls and two boys. And we now have eight grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

KING: And you tragically lost a daughter.

LINKLETTER: I lost a daughter and I lost a son.

KING: Yes. A daughter to suicide.

LINKLETTER: So losing two out of five. Suicide from having been given LSD and a son in an automobile accident. So I have had tragedies.

But I found this out about a tragedy: it either leaves you diminished or enhanced. If you face up to it, if you make the best of it, you're a better person. You appreciate love. You appreciate life. You appreciate all of the things of being with people.

When I say goodbye to my kids any time I leave them, when I leave the house, I know that -- I may not see them again.

KING: Take a break, we'll be right back with more calls for Art Linkletter. Don't go away.


LINKLETTER: What do you think you'll be when you grow up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bus driver or a pilot.

LINKLETTER: A bus driver or pilot.


LINKLETTER: Well, suppose you're a pilot on a big airplane and then all four engines stopped right away. What would you say?

LINKLETTER: Our father which art in heaven...

By the way, who's the boss in your house, your mother or your dad?


LINKLETTER: Hey, you're a diplomat, are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm a Catholic Baptist.



KING: Art Linkletter, who gets around.

Buford, South Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: How great it is to speak with both of you. I just can't imagine. Listen. Mr. Art Linkletter, how long have you been in the public eye?

LINKLETTER: Since 1933. I was studying to be an English professor at San Diego State College, and I was making Waldorf's salads in the school cafeteria at lunch, one of my many jobs. The phone rang. It was a strange voice said, I'm the manager of radio station KGB. I have been watching you up there and what you're doing. Your musical comedy and so forth.

He says, How would you like a part-time job in radio? I got in the public eye and stayed there 65 years.

KING: That's 70 years if it's '33.


KING: Thirty-three.

Reno, Nevada, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Larry King, I just want to say that I enjoy your show.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: And my question for art is, how did "House Party" originally get started?

LINKLETTER: Well, my partner, John Godell (ph), and I had done "People Are Funny" for a few years. And we wanted to do a daytime show like I did in San Francisco called "What's Doing Ladies," which was a kind of magazine show.

And so we tried to sell that to General Electric but with a new title and a new idea, and it was going to be called "The Under 18." And we were going to take all of the different gradations of kids from 4 years to 18 and have them in different -- in a magazine-type format.

The older ones career hunting, the middle ones girls, the little ones funny. And General Electric said, well, we think it's a funny idea, but we need other stuff. We don't want it all kids.

So we took the little kids and threw out the older kids, who weren't as funny, and then did everything that you could do. It was the first real magazine show.

KING: "House Party."

LINKLETTER: "House Party."

We had experts who were like Dr. Phil answering questions about family problems. We had movie stars.

KING: Never knew what to expect.

Never knew. We had 40 different departments. And we never knew which ones you'd see.

KING: Have you ever had cosmetic surgery?


KING: What do you make of the rage of that? Botox?

LINKLETTER: I think it's fine. I think it's overdone sometimes and I don't think it should be done and done and done. I have a dear friend, I won't mention a name, of course, who got so obsessed with it that you know, that it's just not good for you.

KING: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry...


CALLER: ... and good evening, Mr. Linkletter.

LINKLETTER: Good evening.

CALLER: This is really, truly an honor to speak with you.

LINKLETTER: Thank you.

CALLER: I know you are adopted, as I was, by the most wonderful, wonderful parents anyone could ever have. And I was wondering if you would like to talk about your mother and father, and also, do you find that adopted children are more driven to be successful?

I spent 25 years in broadcasting and did fairly well and I always felt very driven. I wondered if there was a connection between being adopted and being successful?

LINKLETTER: I don't think so. I think it just depends on what's inside of you. I was always an alpha kid.

KING: Meaning?

LINKLETTER: Alpha is the modern word that describes the wolf pack leader who gets the pecking order and...

KING: Did you know you were adopted?

LINKLETTER: I found out when I was about 8 or 9 years of age and it was a great shock. In fact, I had then what the psychologists called the Lost Prince Syndrome.

KING: Meaning? LINKLETTER: Meaning that a lot of adopted kids that age, imaginative, find out all of a sudden they're adopted they can't believe it. And they said, Well my father and mother were the king or England or king of whatever and they put me up with these nice people until I learn how to live with people. And then when I take over the kingdom -- but the royal coach never arrived. They kept looking out the window. So I went out and got it myself. So I was driven.

KING: You would recommend people to tell people they are adopted?

LINKLETTER: I think they should know from the very beginning.

And I think that children who are adopted -- I always said I was adopted on television when it was easy, because I wanted adopted children who, in the early days of this last century, were considered to be kind of guilty for all of this.

KING: Did you ever wonder who your parents were?

LINKLETTER: And I wanted adopted kids every where to know that you could be successful.

KING: Did you ever wonder who your parents were?

LINKLETTER: I wondered, but at first I was resentful for being dropped. And by the time I got old enough to understand problems of unmarried young people, they were gone and I never knew who they were or where they went.

KING: Back with more of Art Linkletter and more phone calls. By the way, tomorrow night -- you've seen her on this show a lot -- Nancy Grace. She's always on a panel. Either love her or hate her. There's no middle road on Nancy Grace. She's very vituperative.

We taped an hour with Nancy Grace recently in New York. You're going to see Nancy Grace -- you're going to learn a lot about Nancy Grace you never knew tomorrow night. Please watch. We'll be right back.


LINKLETTER: How did your folks meet and fall in love?

Todd Haynes, did you ever hear the story?


LINKLETTER: What happened?

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

LINKLETTER: Oh, wonderful. Just from being in a camp?


LINKLETTER: And then you were born.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Three months later.

LINKLETTER: Three months later. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), how did your folks get married?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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.




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

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

LINKLETTER: Well, that's one way of putting it. You two are going steady. How long have you been going steady?


LINKLETTER: Are you getting married?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know yet.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seventeen or so.

LINKLETTER: Wow. You got a lot of patience.


KING: We're back with Art Linkletter. Lot of calls. Before we take the next call, Red Skelton was a friend of yours. What was he like.

LINKLETTER: Red Skelton, was a guy -- he had a lot of very strange obsessions. Wonderful guy. He was a clown, real clown. Number one, we he had a boy, what do you call them a made-up person he talked to. Like...

KING: Imaginary friend.

LINKLETTER: Imaginary friend. He said, you know Art, if I wasn't rich and famous, I'd be in a rubber room somewhere. He really talked to them

KING: He did this as an adult?

LINKLETTER: As an adult. No. 2, he never liked to go anywhere without money. I mean money. Twenty-five to $50,000 in bills in lawyers cases, hand cases. Can you imagine that?

KING: He was funny.

LINKLETTER: And, third, he always felt that he was something bad was going to happen. He'd stand off stage and be so nervous, he'd sometimes throw up a little bit before he went on.

KING: Wow.

LINKLETTER: Just tense. But when he got on, he was a wonderful clown. A good guy. Of course, the tragedy of his son's death changed his life.

KING: Toronto, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi, Art. My question is for you. With all the kids that you have interviewed in your life, have any still, like now that they're older adults, have they said to you, you know what, I am doing what I said I wanted to be when I was a kid? And if you can share any stories like that.

KING: Do you run into a lot of kids?

LINKLETTER: Yes. They come up and tell me. One of them was one of the lawyers on the O.J. Simpson case one of the lawyers. One of the lawyers. And some of them -- one was Supreme Court Justice. Any number of them, they come up want to tell me what they'd done. Of course, some of them laugh at what they said they would do.

KING: Were they picked cold out of the audience? Parents brought them down and they were just picked cold?

LINKLETTER: All the children were picked by school teachers.

KING: Fayetteville, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Art, last year we have breakfast with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Kathy at his restaurant in Fayetteville, after you did our Peach State Conference. At the end of that breakfast I asked you if you would go see a lady who had cancer and was dying. You looked at me and said I would be delighted. I appreciate that. And that lady did die a few months ago.

When I did her funeral over in South Carolina/North Carolina, the people are still talking about how you went out of your way to do something so very special for someone. I just want to thank you and ask you what would prompt you as a man who didn't have to do that, to take time out of my busy schedule to do something for somebody who needs something.

LINKLETTER: It's just in me. I happen to like people. And I happen to care about people who are hurting. I came out of a Baptist minister (UNINTELLIGIBLE) where he used to bring home people to share our meals with who had been victims of fate. You know, just what we do. Lot of people do it. I'm not alone in this business.

KING: You do 70 personal appearances every year, right.

LINKLETTER: About 70. Universities, town halls, churches.

KING: Ellijay, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Larry, what an inspirational show. Art, you're my hero. What a great man. You're just fantastic. What kind of food do you eat and what kind of exercise do you do to look so great.

KING: Give me a day in the life of Art Linkletter. Breakfast?

LINKLETTER: Breakfast, I have cereal, I have poached eggs and I have fruit. And I exercise about four or five times a week. I do 10 to 15 minutes on a Schwinn bike. I lift weights every morning. I swim a great much. But mainly -- I live a moderate life. Get eight or nine hours of sleep. But a lot of it's what happens between your ears. You live between your ears. And by changing the attitude inside your mind, you can change the outside of your life. You got to be curious. You got to be...

KING: Do you eat meat?

LINKLETTER: I eat some meat, but not a lot. Today's meals are too fat. Lois and I, when we eat out almost invariably take home enough food to have lunch the next day.

KING: Las Vegas, Nevada.

LINKLETTER: It also saves money.

KING: Still thinking of that. Las Vegas, hello. You had a gas well today. Live it up. Hello.



CALLER: I used to see you every single day most for many years, I was -- I worked on the NBC parking lot when it was on Sunset and Vine.


CALLER: You and your partner John would be flight through there every single day. I'd like to ask you, where today is Rod O'Connor, who was your announcer, and who also was Red Skelton's announcer? What does he do? Is he still with us today?

LINKLETTER: I haven't the faintest idea. I haven't heard or seen him for maybe 25 or 30 year.

KING: He would be the guy saying "now, ladies and gentlemen, 'House Party'?"

LINKLETTER: The people are funny. It was...

KING: NBC was at Sunset and Vine?


KING: I didn't know.

Tampa, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry.

My question for Art Linkletter is, with the decreasing amount in childhood obesity and diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, what is your opinion of lack of physical education in schools? Do you think the next generation is going to be healthier? What do we need to do the prevent the next generation of having too much obesity in their children.

LINKLETTER: I think it's absolutely terrible. When 11-year-old children are getting adult diabetes, and they're not getting exercise. There's no exercise classes in most of the schools. And as good as the Internet is and fascinating it is, kids are absorbed by it, as they are with television. They watch television too much. They should listen to radio, to Larry. Are you still on radio?

KING: Well, were not simulcast.

LINKLETTER: Yes. No. It's a great thing we're missing with our kids. They're not up to shape.

KING: South Pasadena, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Thanks for having me on. I really enjoy your show, Larry.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: And all, Mr. Linkletter, hello.


CALLER: I wanted to ask you, from very personal experience how do you handle the children so well, and make them feel so comfortable? Because I was one of those children in 1949. I never forgot my appearance on your "House Party" show.

KING: How old were you, ma'am, at the time?

CALLER: At the time I was 6 and 1/2.

LINKLETTER: Well, you may recall that when they picked you out of school, didn't they?

CALLER: Yes, sir. LINKLETTER: And do you know why you were picked?

CALLER: Yes, sir.


CALLER: Well because I was outgoing and...

LINKLETTER: Good, good. That's what I mean. Then we brought you down in a big limousine to the studio.

CALLER: I don't remember, my gosh.

LINKLETTER: Do you remember that I came into the room where you four kids were and I sat down on the floor?


LINKLETTER: And talked to you.


LINKLETTER: And said funny things and you said funny things. I didn't tell you what to say.

KING: You loosened them up.

LINKLETTER: I let them know what I was a kid on the same level. So when we got out on the program. I'd say now out there, they're going to laugh when we talk because they're here to have a party. Because I found out when kids say something funny and they all laughed, he would suck up. Say, what did I do, you know? What did I say wrong? So you just say anything you want. Just have a lot of fun with me. That's what did it.

KING: Back with our remaining moments with Art Linkletter. Don't go away.


LINKLETTER: Peggy Morganstern (ph). Aren't you the girl whose father was on my program when he was a little boy?

Isn't this kind of frightening? They're coming around the second time and I'm still here waiting.

Well, Peggy, I'm glad to meet you. How did your mother and daddy meet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, they met at a nudist camp.


LINKLETTER: A nudist colony?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Camp. LINKLETTER: A nudist camp? And what do they do at nudist camps?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They play games and take off their clothes.


LINKLETTER: Did they tell you this about meeting that way? You didn't just make that up? It's really true? Oh, that's wonderful. I can hardly think of another question to ask.



KING: Art Linkletter just telling us he does not miss the tube.

LINKLETTER: Nope. I love the lecture platform. I love the question and answers. It's there. You're walking on a rope again.

KING: Fort Meyers, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Yes. I have a question for Art Linkletter.

KING: Sure. Go ahead.

CALLER: Having had an adult child who died as a result of drugs, do you have any advice for a parent who has an adult child who has a drug or alcohol problem?

LINKLETTER: My advice is, unfortunately, saddened by the knowledge that it's not easy to follow and you can't always do it. The children who go into drug abuse almost invariably do it at a young age because of who they're seeing. So you have to watch out who the friends are, and...

KING: Once they're there, what do you do after that?

LINKLETTER: That's the problem. You cannot pick your child's friends any more than you can pick the people they marry. And, of course, you have to try to get him into areas where the friends he makes are likely to be good friends. One thing is churches, boys' clubs, YMCAs and things like that.

And the other thing you have to watch for is your child suddenly becomes defensive. He wants to lock the door. He doesn't -- he's defensive about everything. He's hiding something.

And then, of course, if he has habits that you watch, he's been one way and he changes. Instead of being neat and clean, he gets sloppy, his grades begin to degrade, he begins to...

KING: There are tell-tale signs?

LINKLETTER: All kinds of little signs. And you just have to do the best you can to steer him. It's a tough job and there's no one answer. KING: Let me get in one more quick call. Jackson, Mississippi, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Thank you very much. Mr. Linkletter, what a thrill it is to speak with you. My question is, you've lived most of the 20th century. I wondered, what is your -- what would you consider the greatest decade of the 20th century?

LINKLETTER: Probably the last 20 or 30 years. We have found out more in medicine, more in science, we've made such great progress in democracy all over the world. We're getting more accustomed to people being helped who are not being helped. I think our whole living style has gotten better and the latter part of the century.

KING: Going to make 100?

LINKLETTER: Going to make 100? Yes.

KING: You will make it?

LINKLETTER: It's taken me so long to get here, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't go on.

KING: And you still go to work every day, right?

LINKLETTER: Yes. More people are alive today who are over 65 than ever lived in the history of the world over 65. Because they all died early. Thousand years ago the average age was 20.

KING: Thank you, Art.

LINKLETTER: You wouldn't have made it.

KING: No. You would have been gone.

LINKLETTER: Oh, God, like that.

KING: Art Linkletter. Hope you enjoyed it. We'll take a break and come back and tell you about tomorrow night right after this. Don't go away.


KING: Any time there's a panel discussion on this show and the topic deals with a crime, Nancy Grace is a good bet to be one of the panelists. And we've received tons of mail about Nancy, and I receive lots of comments and they either love her or hate her. Tomorrow night you'll see me interview Nancy Grace for a full hour and you'll discover what the real Nancy Grace is all about. That's tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.


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