For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.
Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on the Astound TV Network with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.
There are many examples in film and television history where life imitates art.
But there are many fewer times when art imitates another art form.
Such is the unique case in the 1946 classic movie, People Are Funny.
The film was based on the popularity of the radio show of the same name (and would later spawn a TV show) and starred venerable vaudevillian and film star Jack Haley, best known for his dual role as Hickory Twicker/the Tin Man from The Wizard Of Oz.
People Are Funny — the radio show — was created by John Guedel and ran from 1942 to 1960 in which contestants were asked to carry out stunts in order to prove that…dare I say, “people are funny.” Many of these stunts lasted weeks, months, or even years. But contestants who were successful received prizes. For example, in 1945, the host announced that $1,000 would go to the first person to find one of 12 plastic balls floating off California. Two years later, an Ennylageban Island native claimed the prize.
Riding the momentum of the radio success, Paramount Pictures came up with a fictional storyline, using the real radio program and show’s producer:
John Guedel (played by actor Phillip Reed) is panicked and dumbfounded when his popular radio show Humbug is immediately taken off the air for making fun of the legal profession. Given a deadline to produce a replacement, Gudel contacts his writer/girlfriend Corey Sullivan to help him but Corey has another client, Leroy Brinker, seeking a radio show for himself. The two come across a radio show put on in a small town called People Are Funny that mixes bizarre challenges for contestants with musical entertainment. Corey gets the show’s producer, Pinky Wilson, to bring his show to Mr. Guedel.
One of the fictional schemes in the movie was when a young singer agrees to partake in the program, showing off his vocal cords but also agreeing to play the game show–while answering questions in a stockade. He’s sucked into the deal by being promised a date with a real “honey,” only instead of a young girl he’s met with the sticky stuff made from bees.
The film had no shortage of big names for the time period. In addition to Haley playing the role of Pinky Wilson, the movie also starred one-time pop idol turned mainstream actor/musician Rudy Vallee in the role of Ormsby Jamison.
The role of the Master of Ceremonies for the fictional “People Are Funny?” … none other than the REAL host of the radio show, Art Linkletter, who starred in the radio edition from 1943 until the program’s end in the early 1960s. He also later anchored the television version of the show, which was very popular in the mid-1950s and won a pair of Emmy Awards.
Linkletter, among many notable programs he would go on to host, also had a short stint as host of the “Tonight Show,” filling in between the sudden and unexpected departure by host Jack Parr and when Johnny Carson was contractually able to take over the role.
You can see People Are Funny — the movie — on ATVN this Friday evening at 8pm.
To view the complete rundown of classic programming on the Astound TV Network, check out the weekly listings here.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.