April 24, 2014

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Another "Link" To Baby Boomer TV

An affable TV host, a screen idol...call a "cola wars" truce.

The late Art Linkletter gave "House Party" an entirely different meaning than it has today.

The CBS show, which ran in the 1950's and '60's...television's "innocent age", was then called a talk-variety show, but the emphasis was more on fun than on information.

It's best-known segment, where Linkletter interviewed kids, usually with hilarious responses, was the most popular segment, usually airing at the end of the half-hour program.

But it normally began with a celebrity interview...or more accurately, a celebrity "chat"...where he spoke to movie or TV star (to show you not everything changes, it was, more often than not, the star of a CBS series).

I remember one such interview, during 1967, with the legendary screen actress Joan Crawford.

Linkletter was always on the board of directors of various companies.  One was Royal Crown (or RC) Cola, for whom he also did TV commercials.  Crawford at the time was well-known for being on the board of directors of Pepsi-Cola.

During the interview, two bottles of soda were brought on stage. One was a bottle of RC; the other, a Pepsi.

In a scene I suspect was rehearsed, but still amusing, Art took the Pepsi and Crawford chose the RC...just, as they said, as a show of their friendship.  Back then, it made for what we would later call "great television".

That, to me, is the essence of "House Party": a show which, while I was watching during summer break from school, went down like a nice cold bottle of soda pop...regardless of the brand.

 

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