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Art Linkletter, host of the popular "House Party" television show, talks with Dawn Lemire, daughter of SM Sgt. and Mrs. Donald Lemire, during a visit to the USAFE Hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany, in June, 1967.

Art Linkletter, host of the popular "House Party" television show, talks with Dawn Lemire, daughter of SM Sgt. and Mrs. Donald Lemire, during a visit to the USAFE Hospital in Wiesbaden, Germany, in June, 1967. (Joe Wesley / S&S)

IT HAS been a long steep road from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to the giddy heights of American television and radio, but Arthur Gordon Linkletter has made the climb with the easy stride of a distance runner.

Gregarious, confident and vigorous at 54, Linkletter still exudes the all-American charm and pragmatic idealism that have brought him wealth and fame in the dissimilar worlds of entertainment and business. Somehow, the miles just don't show.

There is something pressure-proof about the man. He obviously enjoys what he is doing and what he has accomplished and is perfectly at ease with the world. And he manages to project this unruffled manner to children and adults alike.

Linkletter has brought his charm to U.S. bases in Europe where he is conducting a series of "House Party" shows that later will be shown to TV audiences in America.

His tour of U.S. installations in England, Germany, Italy, Greece and Spain is the first undertaken solely for dependents in Europe by an American entertainment celebrity.

DURING 23 years of dealing with children on his radio and television shows Linkletter has authored three books — "People Are Funny," "Children Say the Darndest Things" and "The Secret World of Kids" — and he has become an authority on the behavior and attitudes of children and adults.

"The children of today are much more knowledgeable and much more sophisticated than they were 20 years ago," he said during an interview in Britain.

"From television they acquire amazing vocabularies. As a result kids of today fool a lot of people into thinking they're wiser than children used to be. But they're not.

"Wisdom is more than accumulating facts and the acquisition of vocabulary. This is where too many parents make their mistake. Because children appear to be quite bright they are given responsibilities they are not ready to handle.

"I think the society we're now living in pushes youth too much — far too much. We're expecting too much too soon.

"The children know they're living in a pressure-cooker society and the result is not good for their orderly growth into adulthood.

"But all this seems to be a sign of the times. We know that the sum total of knowledge is doubling every 10 to 15 years. So much is being discovered that none of us can keep up with even a fraction of what is happening.

"I think our educational leaders may have over reacted to the Russian sputniks, but you can never tell about something like this."

LINKLETTER took a swipe at parents who push their children into the intense competition of Little League baseball at an early age.

"The Little League is a great idea but parents ought to be barred from it. Children ought to be permitted to have fun and games instead of becoming little men long before their time.

"Unfortunately, the game has become a psychological syndrome for many children.

"And not only are they being pushed too far mentally. The physical effort can be ruinous. I've had top coaches tell me that a number of potentially strong pitchers suffer irreparable damage to their arms as kids because they throw too hard before their arms are developed."

LINKLETTER said the percentage of juvenile delinquency in the United States is no greater today than it was 10 or 20 years ago.

"There is more delinquency now because there are more children."

DESPITE his caution about overextending young children, Linkletter said young adults often are denied privileges they deserve.

"If a young man is old enough to fight for his country or to marry at 18, then he is old enough to vote.

"I believe many 18-year-olds think as well as many adults who have been voting for years.

"And I know college kids are too often treated as children and that's why they've been kicking up their heels.

"I speak at campuses all over the United States. I know these young people and I have great respect for them. They're tired of being faceless. They're really searching for identity.

"And I disagree with those who say communism is the cause of campus uprisings. Communism has been too easily demonstrated as a flop to hold any genuine appeal. It had a lot more appeal when I was in college."

A world traveler who has touched every continent and an exceptional businessman who is a director of numerous companies, Linkletter has not hesitated to share his wealth with others.

For a number of years he has supported foster children — as many as 10 at a time in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Hong Kong, Japan, South Vietnam and the Philippines.

"Some of these children have grown up and gone on to college, and Mrs. Linkletter and I have added others to our overseas family.

"It's something we really enjoy doing," he said with a smile.

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