John Guedel, Art Linkletter, And The Story Behind People Are Funny

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Manage episode 244681813 series 1286771
By The WallBreakers and James Scully. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 96: Halloween On The Air (1943 - 1953) ___________ On Friday April 10th, 1942 People Are Funny debuted over NBC airwaves, sponsored by Brown & Williamson Tobacco. It was the brain-child of gameshow maven John Guedel. Guedel was a jack-of-all-trades. In addition to writing he’d spent time as a WPA ditch-digger, traveling salesman, and a collector of rejection slips for his own failed ideas. With People Are Funny set to go on the air in April of 1942, Guedel brought both Linkletter and Baker in as co-MCs. Within a month Guedel negotiated a raise to $850 an episode. When B&W was ready to renew for a full season Art Baker made it known he resented sharing duties with Linkletter and gave an ultimatum. Guedel preferred Linkletter, but Baker was the bigger name and the sponsor took his side. The 1942-43 season was a ratings success. People Are Funny scored the first of its six consecutive seasons in Friday’s Top Ten and was NBC’s highest rated entertainment show of the night. Behind the scenes Baker continually sniped at Guedel and complained to the sponsor. But, John Guedel knew of a clause in Baker’s contract that allowed for a potential termination every thirteen weeks. After October 1st, 1943 he exercised it. Baker sued. Linkletter took over in the midst of Baker’s lawsuit. He’d never give the role up.

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