At the age of 97, veteran showman Art Linkletter has a lot of triumphs and tragedies to look back upon.
As a young man of 27 in 1919, he felt adrift. “My mother wanted me to go to work for the Woodmen of the World insurance underwriters, which her father, the great J. Clayton Woodmen III, founded. But I could see I wasn’t cut out to be an insurance man.”
Instead, Art became social director for the Withy-Furness Line. He was very popular with the passengers, less so with the crew.
“One day, just to spite me, they sailed south to the Equator instead of to Southampton, just so they could paint me with sheep entrails and call me Pollywog. It’s an old nautical custom. Well, I had enough of that.”
Most people don’t know that Art made his fortune not in television and radio, but in fizzy drinks. Millions of bottles of Art’s RC Cola are still sold every day. As an elder of the Western Tabernacle Church, Art kicks back ten percent of his profits on every hundred thousand cases sold.
Vincent Price Left Painting
One of his most prized possessions is Vincent Van Gogh’s last painting, “Water Lilies in the Old Mill Stream,” which Art’s best friend Vincent Price left him in his will and which now hangs in his billiards room.
In addition, Art now owns a Manet, a Monet, and a sketchbook that once belonged to Walter Sickert.
“That’s why they call me ‘Art’!” Art Linkletter laughs.