Thursday, May 27, 2010


One of my favorite people, Art Linkletter, died yesterday at age 97.  I had the privilege of meeting him in Tulsa for maybe 40 seconds at a fund-raiser.  I was in line as all others awaiting our chance to meet this man of tenured fame.

Later I approached him asking if I could have his wife's address.  I explained I wanted to write her thanking her for giving him up to crowds all over the country while she remained at home alone.  His eyes twinkled with delight and offered up the address. 

I wrote her and a few day later a note I still treasure arrived from Mr. Linkletter.  He said in all his years no one ever thought to ask about his wife...and that I had no idea what it did for her.

Later I would get to interview this icon on a little television program I did called CrossView.  In his mid-eighties at the time, the man was a bundle of ambition and business savvy.  Then later I emceed a banquet of which he was the main speaker.  Part of my job was to sit beside him for the evening and keep him entertained.  That wasn't difficult for keeping him entertained was to let him entertain me...and he did.

Arthur Gordon Kelly was abandoned as a baby on the steps of a Baptist preacher's home.  He later wrote, I grew up before the Depression and by 16 was 'riding the rails'.  My adoptive father, John Linkletter, couldn't give me the money to travel in style, but he gave me something a brash young boy didn't appreciate at the time: faith.  And I believe now that it helped take me farther than any first-class ticket.

I'm not particularly proud of the fact that my father embarrassed me, that at times I was ashamed to be seen with him.  Yet, this boy grew from hardship to be a man of faithful influence beyond calculation.

Mr. Linkletter began his young adulthood as a real live hobo hopping from train to train.  He met another young hobo and the two became lifelong friends.  That man was H. L. Hunt.

While Art Linkletter and I were not exactly next-door neighbors, he possessed that welcoming warmth that anytime you were around him, you felt that maybe you should draws names for Christmas.

1 comment:

Stoogelover said...

You fascinate me with the lives you've touched over the years. Great story. I had not heard about Linkletter's death, but he was one of my favorite TV personalities and, yes, a man of great faith. In God and in others.