March 9, 1967 – Art Linkletter’s House Party – CBS Radio version – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
For those who don’t know, Art Linkletter was an institution. He represented a value system that permeated America all through the post-war years, throughout the 1950s and right up until October 1967, when his long-running show Art Linkletter’s House Party came to an end.
House Party was the epitome of homey folksiness. It featured everything from household hints to hunts for missing heirs. The show usually began with a humorous monologue by Linkletter, often followed by an audience participation quiz to win prizes, musical groups (not rock n’ roll of the mid-late 60s variety), informal celebrity interviews and guest speakers from assorted walks of life.
The show’s best-remembered segment was “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, in which Linkletter interviewed schoolchildren between the ages of five and ten. During the segment’s 27-year run, Linkletter interviewed an estimated 23,000 children.
And along with other such radio stalwarts as Don McNeil’s Breakfast Club and Arthur Godfrey, these provided the backbone, the link to the past that was so familiar to so many at the time. Needless to say, neither Art Linkletter nor House Party or the others were particularly embraced by Youth Culture at the time. This was the show an older generation watched and listened to faithfully; it was, if anything, an oasis of homespun calm in the midst of a tsunami of counterculture. His appeal was conservative – he spoke out against drugs, against the Hippy movement, against war protesters, against draft resistance – pretty much everything the Baby Boom generation embraced, Linkletter rejected. He came to represent, to many of a younger generation, what the Generation Gap was all about. But at the same time, he represented what came to be known as “family values”, which in a world going through upheavals on such a mass scale it became something of a Pandora’s Box, everything escaped, everything was on the table and the world was never going to go back to “the way it was”.
The world was changing and it was difficult to reconcile or even embrace the change by those so desperate to cling to a past that was never coming back. But that’s not to say everyone under 30 instantly rejected the value systems of the older generation, but certain “sure things” were no longer so sure. The divides were deep and the gaps were widening.
Ironically, by the next year it all came to a boil – 1968 was the turning point. And by the end of that year, America took a big swing to the right by electing Richard Nixon by a narrow majority.
But by 1968 there was no more Art Linkletter’s House Party – no more oasis of homespun calm, it was now a brave new world with no turning back.
But to give you an idea what the other side of Youth Culture was listening to at the time, here is the March 9, 1967 episode of Art Linkletter’s House Party, with actor Glenn Ford as guest. Exactly as it was broadcast.