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David Poland

By David Poland

Art Linkletter Does The Darnedest Thing

I never expected to meet Art Linkletter, much less send him some very large checks.
But I did.
This was about 20 years ago now. I was running a company that middle-manned celebrities into ads and appearances. A guy named Curry Walls, who has eliminated the job from his bio, was running the company before I got there and did the deal to put Art Linkletter in Contour Chairs, which were sold in 30 and 60 second spots, just before the infomercial craze started up. Art got a piece of each chair sold and we got a piece of his piece. There were multiple 6-figure checks each year.
Linkletter was already well into his 70s – which seemed much older back then – and was pretty much retired. But he was sharp and very precise in every encounter over those couple of years. He never seemed to be chasing his former fame. He just WAS.
He and Robert Vaughn and Lee Majors and Fran Tarkenton kept that business open and me in silly suits and sports cars that I didn’t really belong in at that age. But I remember him fondly… respectfully.
And I liked watching him on TV as a little kid too.

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3 Responses to “Art Linkletter Does The Darnedest Thing”

  1. Wrecktum says:

    I remember those Contour Chair ads! Nice!

  2. Joe Leydon says:

    This really does bum me out, as I have happy memories of his House Party and People Are FunnyTV shows. He had to deal with a terrible tragedy in his life — the sort of tragedy every parent fears — and I recall being truly heartbroken when I heard of his daughter’s suicide, even though I never met the man. It’s funny how much empathy you can feel for a total stranger you know only because, through TV, you’ve invited him into your living room many times over a period of years.

  3. yancyskancy says:

    Art was in a darn good movie, too: CHAMPAGNE FOR CAESAR, with Ronald Colman, Celeste Holm and Vincent Price. Worth seeking out.

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So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon