Today is Art Linkletter’s birthday. There’s a chance the majority of readers have never heard of this man. He is a wonder. I first learned of him when I was in grade school way back when one actually dialed a phone. My grandmother was in love with him as he hosted a cute television program called “House Party” where he interviewed grade-schoolers and awaited their hilarious responses. This was back in the 50s and early 60s.
I met Mr. Linkletter about twenty years ago when he spoke at a fundraiser for Green Country Christian Academy here in Tulsa. I was in the line to pass by and shake his hand. When I got to him we shared the usual niceties to the pace of keeping the line moving. But I asked him a question that stopped the line. I asked if I could have his mailing address to write his wife to thank her for the years she had sacrificed him being gone so people like us could be blessed. He quickly, and seeming to be pleased, scribbled down the address.
I wrote Mrs. Linkletter expressing my gratitude for her giving up days and nights from her husband so he could do his motivational speaking. Too, I shared my hope that she felt useful and important for she surely was. A few days later a hand-written note came back from the Mr. saying in all of his years he had never had anyone ask about his wife and it meant so much to both of them.
Seven years ago I had the privilege of emceeing a similar fundraiser in Louisiana following a day of filming two television programs for CrossView. Mr. Linkletter was a guest on one of the programs and then my job was to sit beside him at the head table (me being the emcee) that evening as he was the noted speaker. He is a remarkable, funny, sensitive, man. He is like a next door neighbor who is warm and caring.
While he still serves on some 70 boards and travels to speak at several events, this man's earlier days began as he was left by his mother on the doorstep of a Baptist preacher’s home. In his adolescent years he became a hobo hop scotching America by the rhythm of the rail. H. L. Hunt was a co-hobo. Yes, he's done a lot in this life...or shall we say God has done a lot through him.
Today Mr. Linkletter is 96 years young. Happy Birthday to another real American hero.