I’m not an autograph hound, but I do have a few collected through the years.
The autographs of singer Ray Stevens and actress Katharine Hepburn resulted from letter exchanges.
Chances are we all made out to Johnny Mathis. After being told “Mr. Mathis has left the building,” I was allowed backstage to meet the singer after producing my vinyl album, “Open Fire, Two Guitars.” “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this one,” Mathis said, as he autographed it for me.
News came yesterday of the death of Art Linkletter at age 97. Hard to imagine there’s a whole new generation of TV viewers who probably have no idea who this man is. (Read the story.)
“Art Linkletter’s House Party” was one of the most popular shows on TV. Especially entertaining were his “Kids Say the Darndest Things” segments. Many will never forget Linkletter’s deadpan expression when the kid pointed to the little boy next to him and said, “Leroy farted.”
Art Linkletter’s autograph cost me 10 cents.
In the early 60s I made a trip to California with friends Ronnie and Richared. Our hosts were Ronnie’s aunt and uncle, and for three wonderful weeks they made certain we did not miss one attraction in the Los Angeles area – from Disneyland to Knott’s Berry Farm to a game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Chavez Ravine - where I got to see my old arch enemy Casey Stengel,..
At CBS Studios, we attended a taping of Linkletter’s show. The celebrity moved through the audience, chatting with fans before taping began. As he neared, I reached into my purse, pulled out an envelope, extended it to him and asked for his autograph. He said, “It’ll cost you” and moved on up the aisle. I reached into my purse again, and as he headed back down to the stage to begin his show, I said, “Here’s a dime; give me your autograph.” He stopped, signed the envelope and took my dime!
Art Linkletter once told The Wall Street Journal, “I was Oprah before there was Oprah,” and he was.
All those funny little kids will never forget you, Mr. Linkletter, and neither will I.