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Hollywood reacts to Art Linkletter's death [Updated]

The Walt Disney Co. issued a statement Wednesday from its president and chief executive, Robert A. Iger, on the death of Art Linkletter:

"Throughout Art’s 60 years in show business, he remained one of the most respected and beloved media personalities in America. Art had forged a great friendship with our founder Walt Disney, which led him to host Disneyland’s groundbreaking live opening day broadcast on ABC in 1955. Art had remained a good friend to the company ever since, and we honored him with the prestigious Disney Legends Award in 2005. On behalf of everyone at Disney, we are saddened by Art’s passing and extend our thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones." 

Grammy-winning producer Quincy Jones also commented on Linkletter's death in a statement:

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend and neighbor of more than 20 years, Art Linkletter. To know Art, it was easy to see how a man of such humble beginnings could achieve as much as he did in life. Right until the end, he was one of the brightest, funniest, inspiring and profound people that I have ever known. Art would always say, ‘Quincy, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans,’ and he was right. My most heartfelt condolences go out to his beautiful wife Lois and his daughters Sharon and Dawn. I have no doubt that Art Linkletter’s presence in Heaven will keep a smile on God’s face, as it did for so many of us here on earth."

[Updated at 4:25 p.m.: President Reagan's widow, Nancy, also issued a statement Wednesday:

"I was very saddened today to hear of the death of Art Linkletter. He was a good friend for a long, long time, and Ronnie and I admired him very much. Art was great to be around, always warm and optimistic, and he loved people. Art lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s as I did, and even in his later years he worked tirelessly to help find a cure for this terrible disease. My deepest sympathy goes out to Lois and the entire family."

The Associated Press also reported these reactions to Linkletter's death:

Bill Cosby, who collaborated with Linkletter on the TV show "Kids Saw the Darndest Things": "Because of Art Linkletter, adults found themselves enjoying children."

CNN host Larry King: "An amazing fellow, a terrific broadcast talent, a brilliant businessman. An all-around good guy."

Comedian Phyllis Diller: "In a couple of months Art Linkletter would have been 98 years old, a full life of fun and goodness, an orphan who made it to the top. What a guy."]

Click here to read the full obituary.

--Claire Noland

Photo: Art Linkletter, in top bubble, gets ready to ride in the monorail with Richard Nixon and his family on the opening day of Disneyland as Walt Disney looks on.

Credit: Walt Disney Co.

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That's not Art Linkletter in the photo, but Walt Disney who died in the mid 1960's.

Cheryl, Art Linkletter is inside the train, poking his head into the bubble-shaped window compartment at the top. Walt Disney is standing next to the train.

Hey Claire.
That's not a train. It's the Monorail

Indeed it is.

It would be difficult to imagine growing up and never having seen or heard Art Linkletter. He was truly one of the great influences on my formative years. I would stand bolt upright in my crib, which was right in line with the doorway to the living room, where the TV set was, and I could see and hear everything. His warm, inviting voice was one of those I remember vividly from my childhood, whether he was hosting "House Party" or "People Are Funny". I was fascinated to learn that Linkletter and John Guedel took a chance on Groucho Marx to host "You Bet Your Life", after most of Hollywood had written him off as washed-up. I think Marx's 1950 Emmy for "Outstanding TV Personality" proved the critics very, very wrong. RIP, Mr. Linkletter.


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