IN HONOR OF U.S. SERVICE MEMBERS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN
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GARY COLEMAN, ‘DIFF’RENT STROKES’
Mr. Coleman was taken to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center on Wednesday as a result of a head injury caused by a fall. He suffered a brain hemorrhage and died after being removed from life support, a hospital spokeswoman, Janet Frank, said.
Mr. Coleman had been hospitalized twice this year with seizure-related problems and had been in and out of hospitals all his life, receiving treatment for congenital kidney disease. The treatment was said to have stunted his growth.
Mr. Coleman, who was 4 feet 8 inches tall, had a kidney transplant at 5 and a second one when he was 16.
“Diff’rent Strokes,” seen on NBC from 1978 to 1985 and on ABC from 1985 to 1986, was a comedy about a wealthy white New Yorker (Conrad Bain) who adopts two underprivileged black brothers, Arnold (played by Mr. Coleman) and Willis (Todd Bridges). Mr. Coleman made his character the little-boy version of America’s sweetheart.
“When he first strutted into our living rooms in 1978,” Bella Stumbo wrote in The Los Angeles Times Magazine in 1990, Mr. Coleman “looked like a lovable, smart-mouthed 6-year-old thrilled to be playing some new game.”
Viewers loved watching him make short work of bigotry and pretension, Ms. Stumbo continued. “He was sunshine, contagious joy,” she wrote, and “such was his natural comedic gift that he was hailed as a child genius by veterans like Lucille Ball and Bob Hope.”
But there was an undercurrent to the show’s portrayals.
“At the time, Arnold struck audiences as an endlessly endearing trickster figure, whose Harlem-based sensitivity to being hustled had been reduced to a sweetie-pie affectation: ‘What you talkin’ about, Willis?’ ” Virginia Heffernan wrote in The New York Times in 2006, quoting Mr. Coleman’s signature line. “Arnold was supposed to be shrewd and nobody’s fool, but also misguided; after learning his lessons, he was easily tamed and cuddled.” Ms. Heffernan called the characterization a form of latter-day minstrelsy.
Looking back at his childhood, Mr. Coleman saw himself as having been used. He sued his parents and his former manager in 1989, accusing them of misappropriating his trust fund. In 1999 he filed for bankruptcy protection. (During the same period, his young “Diff’rent Strokes” co-stars were having problems of their own. Mr. Bridges was tried on charges of attempted murder in 1990 but acquitted. Dana Plato, who played the daughter of Conrad Bain’s character, was arrested at least twice and died of a drug overdose in 1999.)
Beginning in the 1990s, Mr. Coleman was arrested several times and charged with assault and disorderly conduct. A year ago he was arrested on domestic violence charges. He and his wife, the former Shannon Price, appeared on the reality show “Divorce Court” in 2008 but remained together.
Gary Wayne Coleman was born on Feb. 8, 1968, in Zion, Ill., a small city in the state’s northeastern corner. He was adopted as an infant by W. G. Coleman, a forklift operator, and his wife, Edmonia Sue, a nurse practitioner.
As a young boy, he was cast in a commercial for a Chicago bank, offering a toy lion as a promotion. “You should have a Hubert doll,” the boy told viewers. Years later, Bob Greene, the Chicago Tribune columnist, recalled Mr. Coleman’s impact in that local ad campaign: “If there is chemistry with the camera, six words can make you a star.”
He was spotted by an agent for the television producer Norman Lear and brought to Hollywood for a project that never came to fruition, a new version of the “Our Gang” comedies. Instead he was cast in “Diff’rent Strokes” and was soon earning thousands of dollars per episode. At his peak he earned $3 million a year.
But after the series ended, his career spiraled downward. He made 20 or so television appearances over the next the two decades, as well as a handful of feature films. (His last was the 2009 “Midgets vs. Mascots,” a broad comedy.) But he also tried earning a living outside show business, even working as a security guard at one point. In 2003 he was one of 135 candidates in the carnival-like California gubernatorial recall election; he came in eighth, right after Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler.
Mr. Coleman’s difficulties are parodied in the Tony Award-winning musical “Avenue Q,” in which a character named Gary Coleman is the superintendent of a run-down building in an undesirable neighborhood. Mr. Coleman talked about suing the show’s producers but never did.
His survivors include his wife and his parents, who were estranged from their son. His mother told The Associated Press that she had prayed that “nothing like this would happen before we could sit with Gary and Shannon and say, ‘We’re here and we love you.’ ”
“We just didn’t want to push him,” she added.
Mr. Coleman readily talked to interviewers about how unhappy his television success and its trappings had made him. “I would not give my first 15 years to my worst enemy,” he said in an A.P. interview in 2001. “And I don’t even have a worst enemy.”
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“What chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”
From his debut role on the 1970s sitcom, “Good Times”, to his signature role of Arnold Jackson on ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, and his famous quote, Gary Coleman was everyone’s favourite little big man.
He made quite an impression on me whenever a grown-up tried to be patronizing to Gary, but, Gary always had his comeback to put anyone in their place who thought he was someone to be treated with condescension. He knew he was someone more than his ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ character, and he wanted more than anything that the world would allow him to grow and excell in other roles he took on.
So it was also in his personal life. Never taken seriously when he became an adult and branching out into new roles, Gary had to contend with many people who refused to see that he was now a grown man, and no longer the wise-cracking child that so many millions watched grow up on television. He fought many demons and overcame many trials and tribulations, from the painful transition of child star to adult actor, to his financial problems with his mother, to his health problems from kidney disease, to his personal life—–Gary sought to make his way in the real world———-and the reel world.
He became forever typecast as “Arnold Jackson ” and he realized and cames to terms that that would be the role most people would remember him for.
“What chu talkin’ ’bout, Gary?”
Rest in peace, Mr Coleman.
Rest in peace.
DENNIS HOPPER, AN ‘EASY RIDER’ MISFIT
Dennis Hopper directing the film “The Last Movie” in 1971. More Photos »
Columbia Pictures/TRIO, via Associated Press
Dennis Hopper, left, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson in “Easy Rider” More Photos >
The cause was complications from metastasized prostate cancer, according to a statement issued by Alex Hitz, a family friend.
Mr. Hopper, who said he stopped drinking and using drugs in the mid-1980s, followed that change with a tireless phase of his career in which he claimed to have turned down no parts. His credits include no fewer than six films released in 2008 and at least 25 over the past 10 years.
Most recently, Mr. Hopper starred in the television series “Crash,” an adaptation of the Oscar-winning film of the same title. Produced for the Starz cable channel, the show had Mr. Hopper portraying a music producer unhinged by years of drug use.
During a promotional tour last fall for that series, he fell ill; shortly thereafter, he began a new round of treatments for prostate cancer, which he said had been first diagnosed a decade ago.
Mr. Hopper was hospitalized in Los Angeles in January, at which time he also filed for divorce from his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy, with whom he had a young daughter. Mr. Hopper issued a news release citing “irreconcilable differences” for the filing.
“I wish Victoria the best but only want to spend these difficult days surrounded by my children and close friends,” he said in the release.
Mr. Hopper first won praise in Hollywood as a teenager in 1955 for his portrayal of an epileptic on the NBC series “Medic” and for a small part in the film “Rebel Without a Cause,” which starred James Dean, who was a friend of his.
Mr. Hopper confirmed his status as a rising star as the son of a wealthy rancher and his wife, played by Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor, in “Giant” (1956), the epic western with Dean.
In those years, he was linked romantically with Natalie Wood and Joanne Woodward.
Yet that success brought with it a growing hubris, and in 1958 Mr. Hopper found himself in a battle of wills with the director Henry Hathaway on the set of “From Hell to Texas.”
The story has several versions; the most common is that his refusal to play a scene in the manner that the director requested resulted in Mr. Hopper’s stubbornly performing more than 80 takes before he finally followed orders.
Upon wrapping the scene, Mr. Hopper later recalled, Mr. Hathaway told him that his career in Hollywood was finished.
He soon left for New York, where he studied with Lee Strasberg for several years, performed onstage and acted in more than 100 episodes of television shows.
It was not until after his marriage in 1961 to Brooke Hayward — who, as the daughter of Leland Hayward, a producer and agent, and Margaret Sullavan, the actress, was part of Hollywood royalty — that Mr. Hopper was regularly offered film roles again.
He wrangled small parts in big studio films like “The Sons of Katie Elder” (1965) — directed by his former nemesis Henry Hathaway — as well as “Cool Hand Luke” (1967) and “Hang ’Em High” (1968).
And he grew close to his wife’s childhood friend Peter Fonda, who, with Mr. Hopper and a few others, began mulling over a film whose story line followed traditional western themes but substituted motorcycles for horses.
That film, “Easy Rider,” which Mr. Hopper wrote with Mr. Fonda and Terry Southern and directed, followed a pair of truth-seeking bikers (Mr. Fonda and Mr. Hopper) on a cross-country journey to New Orleans.
It won the prize for best first film at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival (though it faced only one competitor, as the critic Vincent Canby pointed out in a tepid 1969 review in The New York Times).
Mr. Hopper also shared an Oscar nomination for writing the film, while a nomination for best supporting actor went to a little-known Jack Nicholson.
“Easy Rider” introduced much of its audience, if not Mr. Hopper, to cocaine, and the film’s success accelerated a period of intense drug and alcohol use that Mr. Hopper later said nearly killed him and turned him into a professional pariah.
Given nearly $1 million by Universal for a follow-up project, he retreated with a cadre of hippies to Peru to shoot “The Last Movie,” a hallucinogenic film about the making of a movie. It won a top prize at the 1971 Venice Film Festival, but it failed with critics and at the box office.
Mr. Hopper edited the film while living at Los Gallos, a 22-room adobe house in Taos, N.M., that he rechristened the Mud Palace and envisioned as a counterculture Hollywood.
It was there that his drug-induced paranoia took full flower, including a period in which he posted armed guards on the roof.
“I was terribly naïve in those days,” he told The New York Times in 2002. “I thought the crazier you behaved, the better artist you would be. And there was a time when I had a lot of energy to display how crazy that was.”
Mr. Hopper was seen mostly in small film parts until he returned to prominence with his performance in “Apocalypse Now” (1979).
In a 1993 interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Mr. Hopper credited Marlon Brando, a star of the film, with the idea of having him portray a freewheeling photojournalist, rather than the smaller role of a C.I.A. officer, in which he was originally cast.
But Mr. Hopper’s after-hours style continued to affect his work; in “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse,” a documentary about the making of that film, the director, Francis Ford Coppola, is seen lamenting that Mr. Hopper cannot seem to learn his lines.
After becoming sober in the 1980s, Mr. Hopper began taking on roles in several films a year, becoming one of the most recognizable character actors of the day.
He earned a second Oscar nomination for best supporting actor for his role as the alcoholic father of a troubled high school basketball star in “Hoosiers” (1986), and he honed his portrayal of unhinged villains in films like “Blue Velvet” (also in 1986), “Speed” (1994) and “Waterworld” (1995), as well as in the first season of the television series “24” (2002).
Mr. Hopper had several artistic pursuits beyond film. Early in his career, he painted and wrote poetry, though many of his works were destroyed in a 1961 fire that burned scores of homes, including his, in the Los Angeles enclave Bel Air.
Around that time, Ms. Hayward gave him a camera as a gift, and Mr. Hopper took up photography.
His intimate and unguarded images of celebrities like Ike and Tina Turner, Andy Warhol and Jane Fonda were the subject of gallery shows and were collected in a book, “1712 North Crescent Heights.” The book, whose title was his address in the Hollywood Hills in the 1960s, was edited by Marin Hopper, his daughter by Ms. Hayward.
He also built an extensive collection of works by artists he knew, including Warhol, Ed Ruscha and Julian Schnabel.
Born on May 17, 1936, in Dodge City, Kan., and raised on a nearby farm, Dennis Lee Hopper moved with his family to San Diego in the late 1940s.
He studied at the Old Globe Theater there while in high school, then signed a contract with Warner Brothers and moved to Los Angeles.
Mr. Hopper’s five marriages included one of eight days in 1970 to the singer Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. He is survived by four children, all of the Los Angeles area: Marin Hopper; Ruthanna Hopper, his daughter by Daria Halprin, his third wife; a son, Henry Lee Hopper, whose mother is Katherine LaNasa; and Galen, his daughter by Ms. Duffy.
On March 26, surrounded by friends like Mr. Nicholson and David Lynch, the director of “Blue Velvet,” Mr. Hopper received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Looking frail, he began his brief acceptance speech by sardonically thanking the paparazzi for supposedly distracting him and causing him to lose his balance and fall the day before. He continued, “Everyone here today that I’ve invited — and obviously some that I haven’t invited — have enriched my life tremendously.”
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With all the many roles he has played, and the films he has directed, Dennis Hopper will forever be known for his director/co-starring screen role in the hit film “Easy Rider”. The film became a touchstone of cult status to many Baby Boomers, in addressing racism, hatred of the “Other”, and rebellion against conformity.
He was a rebel, an in-your-face actor who never failed to leave you with an impression you would not soon forget.
All-in-all, a one of a kind once-in-a-lifetime actor.
Rest in peace, Mr. Hopper.
Rest in peace.
DAVID GINSBURG, LONGTIME D.C. INSIDER
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Published: May 25, 2010
- David Ginsburg, a liberal lawyer and longtime Washington insider who helped found the Americans for Democratic Action and led the presidential commission on race relations whose report, in 1968, warned that the United States was “moving toward two societies — one black, one white, separate and unequal,” died Sunday at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 98.
David Ginsburg with President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967.
The cause was congestive heart failure, his son Mark said.
Mr. Ginsburg arrived in Washington in 1935 and quickly emerged as one of the brightest of the New Dealers. He helped draft laws on price controls during World War II and served as an adviser on reorganizing the German economy after the Allied victory.
In 1967, as race riots engulfed Detroit and Milwaukee, after similar disturbances in Los Angeles, Newark and Chicago, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Mr. Ginsburg executive director of the National Commission on Civil Disorders. Known as the Kerner Commission, after its chairman, Gov. Otto Kerner of Illinois, the panel was charged with seeking out the causes of the riots and proposing solutions.
In a report that became a surprise best seller when issued in paperback, the commission argued that the riots were a form of social protest by blacks against longstanding injustices and that white Americans, largely oblivious to the plight of black citizens, were complicit in creating a racist, economically oppressive society.
In the 1970s, Mr. Ginsburg successfully represented Henry A. Kissinger in his long battle to keep private the transcripts of his telephone conversations while serving as secretary of state and national security adviser under President Richard M. Nixon.
In 1980, the Supreme Court, reversing the decisions of two lower courts, ruled in Kissinger v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press that the transcripts did not fall under the Freedom of Information Act because they were outside the executive branch.
Charles David Ginsburg was born on April 20, 1912, in Manhattan. After the family’s Lower East Side grocery failed, the Ginsburgs started over in Huntington, W.Va., where prosperous relatives lived.
Mr. Ginsburg graduated in 1932 from West Virginia University, where he studied economics and politics. Three years later, he earned a law degree at Harvard.
With help from his mentor, Felix Frankfurter, soon to be a United States Supreme Court justice, Mr. Ginsburg found work with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington. There he joined an eager army of like-minded liberal idealists. “Everybody wanted to make a difference,” he told The Washington Post in 1997, “and they wanted your ideas if you had them.”
He clerked for Justice William O. Douglas at the Supreme Court for a year but returned to the S.E.C. after war broke out in Europe. In April 1941 he became general counsel to the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply (called the Office of Price Administration after January 1942), whose aggressive anti-inflationary policies and proposals for close control of the economy earned the wrath of political conservatives.
Like his boss, the economist Leon Henderson, and colleagues like John Kenneth Galbraith, Mr. Ginsburg became a political target. He resigned in 1943, saying he was “physically tired and a little dispirited.” Republican congressmen then accused him of trying to pull strings to secure an officer’s commission in the Army after having been deferred for more than a year as an “irreplaceable” government employee.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt rose to his defense in a detailed letter to the new head of the Office of Price Administration. “I am sure that when the political storms blow over,” he wrote, “David’s patriotic, unselfish and distinguished service to his country will be duly recognized.”
While at the O.P.A., Mr. Ginsburg hired Nixon, fresh out of Duke University’s law school. “He worked with us for about a year, and then went into the military, where he was sent overseas,” he told The Alexandria Times in 2008. “Nixon had a distinct personality that did not seek friendship, but he did a first-rate, responsible job.”
Mr. Ginsburg enlisted in the Army as a private, driving trucks in a supply battalion, and rose to captain. After the war he served on the staff of Gen. Lucius D. Clay in Germany, where he attended the Potsdam Conference and the early Nuremberg war trials.
In 1946 he founded the Washington law firm of Ginsburg & Leventhal, which later became Ginsburg, Feldman & Bress. It dissolved in 1998, and he joined Powell, Goldstein, from which he retired in 2007 at the age of 95.
Mr. Ginsburg’s first two marriages ended in divorce. In addition to his son Mark, of Paris, he is survived by his wife, Marianne Lais Ginsburg; another son, Jonathan, of Chantilly, Va.; a daughter, Susan, of Alexandria; and two grandchildren.
In 1947, Mr. Ginsburg joined with former New Dealers to create the Americans for Democratic Action to counter Communist influence in the Democratic Party. Today, with chapters across the country, it is one of the nation’s leading liberal advocacy groups.
As counsel to the Jewish Agency’s office in Washington, Mr. Ginsburg was part of an inner circle of advisers to the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann and helped smooth the way to the Truman administration’s recognition of the new state of Israel, with Mr. Weizmann as its first president, in 1948.
While representing a long list of influential clients, Mr. Ginsburg intermittently returned to government service. Johnson appointed Mr. Ginsburg to serve on several presidential commissions and boards created to avert rail and air strikes and assess the state of the postal service.
The Kerner Report, however, led to a breach. Mr. Ginsburg, one of its principal authors, used pungent language to paint a bleak picture of American race relations and black life in the ghettos. “What white Americans have never fully understood, but what the Negro can never forget, is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto,” he wrote. “White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it and white society condones it.”
Without an ambitious legislative program to promote integration, remake the slums and generate jobs, he argued, the United States was in danger of slipping into a state of near-apartheid.
Johnson was infuriated that the report failed to mention his contributions to civil rights. He rejected the commission’s findings and severed relations with Mr. Ginsburg.
More than 20 years later, Mr. Ginsburg remained pessimistic about the problems addressed in the report. “The conditions now, in my view, are unquestionably worse in the inner cities,” he told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1992. “Education is worse. Housing is worse. Unemployment is worse. We now have a drug problem that we didn’t have in 1967 and 1968. There are millions of handguns. The cities have been essentially disregarded by the federal government.”
ART LINKLETTER, TV HOST
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Published: May 26, 2010
- Art Linkletter, the genial host who parlayed his talent for the ad-libbed interview into two of television’s longest-running shows, “People Are Funny” and “House Party,” in the 1950s and 1960s, died on Wednesday at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 97.
Art Linkletter in 1969. More Photos »
From his early days as an announcer on local radio and a roving broadcaster at state fairs, Mr. Linkletter showed a talent for ingratiating himself with his subjects and getting them to open up, often with hilarious results.
He was particularly adept at putting small children at ease, which he did regularly on a segment of “House Party,” a reliably amusing question-and-answer session that provided the material for his best-selling book “Kids Say the Darndest Things!”
Television critics and intellectuals found the Linkletter persona bland and his popularity unfathomable. “There is nothing greatly impressive, one way or the other, about his appearance, mannerisms, or his small talk,” one newspaper critic wrote. Another referred to his “imperishable banality.”
Millions of Americans disagreed. They responded to his wholesome, friendly manner and upbeat appeal. Women, who made up three-quarters of the audience for “House Party,” which was broadcast in the afternoon, loved his easy, enthusiastic way with children.
“I know enough about a lot of things to be interesting, but I’m not interested enough in any one thing to be boring,” Mr. Linkletter told The New York Post in 1965. “I’m like everybody’s next-door neighbor, only a little bit smarter.”
He was also genuinely curious to know what was going on in the heads of the people he interviewed. “You have to listen,” he said. “A lot of guys can talk.”
Gordon Arthur Kelly was born on July 17, 1912, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Before he was a month old he was abandoned by his parents and adopted by Fulton John and Mary Metzler Linkletter, a middle-age couple whose two children had died. It was not until he was 12, while rummaging through his father’s desk, that he discovered he was adopted.
In his autobiography, “Confessions of a Happy Man,” Mr. Linkletter recalled his adoptive father, a one-legged cobbler and itinerant evangelist, as “a strange, uncompromising man whose main interest in life was the Bible.” The family prayed and performed on street corners, with Art playing the triangle.
By the time Art was 5 the family had moved to an unpaved adobe section of San Diego. As a child he took on any job he could find. At one point he sorted through lemons left abandoned in piles outside a packing plant, cleaned them off and sold them for 6 cents a dozen.
After graduating from high school at 16, Mr. Linkletter decided to see the world. With $10 in his pocket, he rode freight trains and hitchhiked around the country, working here and there as a meatpacker, a harvester and a busboy in a roadhouse.
“Among other things, I learned to chisel rides on freight trains, outwit the road bulls, cook stew with the bindlestiffs and never to argue with a gun,” he later recalled. A fast typist, he found work in a Wall Street bank just in time to watch the stock market crash in 1929. He also shipped out to Hawaii and Rio de Janeiro as a merchant seaman.
After returning to California, he entered San Diego State Teachers College (now San Diego State University) with plans of becoming an English teacher. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1934, but in his last year he was hired to do spot announcements by a local radio station, KGB, a job that led to radio work at the California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego and at similar fairs in Dallas and San Francisco.
With microphone in hand and countless programming hours to fill, Mr. Linkletter relied on ad-libbing, stunts and audience participation to get attention and keep listeners entertained. He was once lowered from a skyscraper in a boatswain’s chair, interviewing office workers on every floor as he descended. “It was the forced feeding of a young and growing M.C.,” he later said of his more than 9,000 fair broadcasts.
In 1936 he married Lois Foerster, a college student in San Diego, who survives him. The couple had five children: Jack, who followed his father into television and died of lymphoma in 2007; Dawn, of Sedona, Ariz.; Robert, who died in a car accident in 1980; Sharon, of Calabasas, Calif.; and Diane, who committed suicide in 1969, an event that spurred her father into becoming a crusader against drug use. There are 7 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
- “House Party” Retrospective with Bill Cosby and Art Linkletter (youtube.com)
- Clips From “Kids Say the Darndest Things” (youtube.com)
He did have one piece of radio luck. With John Guedel, who would go on to create the quiz show “You Bet Your Life” and the comedy “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” Mr. Linkletter made an audition tape for an audience-participation show, with contests and gags, that would rely on his ability to ad-lib and coax humorous material from virtually anyone. Mr. Guedel came up with the name “People Are Funny,” and NBC put it on the air in 1942. Enormously popular, it ran on radio until 1960. The television version, which made its debut in 1954, ran until 1961.
Working without a script, Mr. Linkletter sent audience volunteers on silly assignments outside the studio with instructions to report back on their experience. One man was handed a $1,000 bill and told to buy chewing gum. Another was given $15,000 to invest in the stock market. Mr. Linkletter mingled with the audience, asking questions, setting up gags and handing out prizes like a yard of hot dogs or five feet of dollar bills.
On one show Mr. Linkletter spotted a woman’s enormous purse and began rummaging through it, announcing each item in turn: a can opener, a can of snuff, a losing racetrack ticket and a photograph of Herbert Hoover. The handbag bit became a staple of the show. More ingeniously, Mr. Linkletter set a dozen balls adrift in the Pacific, announcing a $1,000 prize for the first person to find one. Two years later a resident of the Marshall Islands claimed the money.
“House Party,” which ran five days a week on radio from 1945 to 1967 and on television from 1952 to 1969, was a looser version of “People Are Funny,” with beauty tips and cooking demonstrations filling time between Mr. Linkletter’s audience-chatter sessions. The highlight of the show was a segment in which five children between the ages of 5 and 10 sat down to be interviewed by Mr. Linkletter, who sat at eye level with his little subjects and, time and time again, made their parents wish television had never been invented.
After one boy revealed that his father was a policeman who arrested lots of burglars, Mr. Linkletter asked if his mother ever worried about the risks. “Naw, she thinks it’s great,” he answered. “He brings home rings and bracelets and jewelry almost every week.”
Mr. Linkletter assembled replies like that in “Kids Say the Darndest Things!,” illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts,” and its sequel, “Kids Still Say the Darndest Things.”
In 1969 Mr. Linkletter’s daughter Diane leapt to her death from her sixth-story apartment. Her father said that LSD had contributed to her death, and although an autopsy showed no signs of the drug in her body, the personal tragedy became a national event, suggesting to many Americans that drugs and the counterculture were making inroads even into seemingly model families like the Linkletters.
Mr. Linkletter, rather than retreating from the attention, became a crusader against drug use and an adviser to President Richard M. Nixon on drug policy, although, in 1972, he announced that he had changed his position on marijuana. After much thought and study he had concluded that the drug was relatively harmless and that law-enforcement officials should spend their time concentrating on hard drugs.
Much in demand as a public speaker and a fund-raiser for Republican candidates, Mr. Linkletter spent his subsequent years on lecture tours, appearing in commercials and tending to his far-flung business interests, including oil wells and toys. (One of his companies manufactured a version of the Hula-Hoop.)
A former college athlete, he remained remarkably healthy well into his 90s and the ideal front man for the United Seniors Association (renamed USA Next), a conservative organization formed in opposition to AARP and dedicated largely to privatizing Social Security. In keeping with his new role as a prominent elder American, Mr. Linkletter wrote “Old Age Is Not for Sissies.”
When he was well into his 80s and still going strong, someone asked him the secret of longevity. “You live between your ears,” he replied. “You can’t turn back the clock, but you can rewind it.” SOURCE
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