1976 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"To be successful, you should be in love with what you do."
Born A. G. Kelley, Art Linkletter was abandoned at birth and later adopted by the Linkletter family. His adopted father was a part-time shoemaker and Baptist minister. Their life was religious, strict, and poor. In his youth, Linkletter joined the YMCA to get some exercise and participate in outdoor activities. Soon, he worked for the Y as a switchboard operator and as a towel boy. He graduated from high school when he was only 16, and spent a year hitchhiking and riding freight trains across the country. While visiting nearly every state, he worked as a farm hand, typist, busboy, meat packer, and Wall Street coupon clerk. He even crewed on a ship that took him to Buenos Aires. Looking back on those memories, he said, "I learned basic self-reliance that year and I think that's the greatest gift a person can have."
Linkletter enrolled in San Diego State College, intending to become an English teacher. He earned his college expenses by holding a variety of jobs. During his senior year, he became a radio announcer for the local CBS station. He stayed on with the station following graduation, and worked on a show that launched his career, "The Man on the Street." After that came the first of his best-known shows People Are Funny on NBC and House Party on CBS. His business interests grew to include Vandeburg-Linkletter, an entertainment firm, and Linkletter Enterprises, which includes real estate, construction, merchandising, and other areas.
President Reagan appointed Linkletter to be Commissioner General of the Australian World's Fair, with the rank of Ambassador. He was also on three Presidential commissions on drug abuse, English education, and physical education.
The father of five children, Linkletter's life took a new turn when his daughter, Diane, died as a result of experimenting with LSD. He joined the crusade against drugs and talked with thousands of students about drug abuse. He consided his work in this area, including his book Drugs at My Doorstep, to be his most important contribution to society.
Linkletter received 17 honorary doctorates, and wrote 27 books, of which the most famous are Kids Say the Darndest Things and Old Age Is Not for Sissies. Following these, he published How to Make Your Child into a Human Being.
Linkletter called his Horatio Alger Award "the Good Housekeeping seal of approval on my life. The members of the Horatio Alger Association have passed a test in life that many people can't pass". Linkletter's favorite quote was one from John Wooden, who said, "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way that things turn out."* Deceased