Issued in October 1969 by Capitol, We Love You, Call Collect by Art Linkletter made number 42 in the Billboard charts on 22 November (it was 46 on the Cash Box chart the same week), almost six weeks to the day after the subject of the recording, Linkletter’s daughter Diane, committed suicide. In an even uglier twist, the flip side of the disc, Dear Mom and Dad is credited to Art Linkletter and his Daughter, Diane and features the ghost of Diane narrating her reply interpolated with portions of the plug side. Mindblowing.
Linkletter, real name Arthur Gordon Kelly, will be an obscure name to most outside of the US, but the Canadian-born radio and TV personality was the host of House Party, which ran on CBS radio and television for 25 years, and People Are Funny which aired on NBC radio and television for 19 years. The most popular feature of House Party was Kids Say the Darndest Things, where Linkletter would interview youngsters and the audience would howl at their naïveté. A series of books followed which contained the humorous comments made on-air by the kids, and serial sex abuser Bill Cosby would steal the idea for his own TV series in the late 1990s. In Britain troubled TV personality Michael Barrymore would do the same thing at the same time with Kids Say the Funniest Things. There’s a lesson in this: don’t host TV programmes about kids unless you want to screw up your career.
Diane Linkletter was a troubled soul, a wannabe actress forever in the shadow of her far more famous father. After dabbling with LSD (well, it was the 60s) and suffering from depression over her lack of career, she jumped to her death from her sixth-floor apartment. Linkletter senior blamed the drugs, however police reports confirm that the acid was not to blame, and friends confirmed that she had become increasingly depressed in recent weeks.
We Love You, Call Collect was first issued, earlier that same year, by Christian record label Word, and – in a deeply cynical move - picked up for distribution by Capitol after Diane’s death. Her untimely passing would also inspire fledgling movie director John Waters, who assembled his cast of Dreamlanders - Divine, David Lochary, and Mary Vivian Pierce – the day following her death to produce a mostly improvised short film based on the tragedy. The film features clips from both sides of the disc, used without permission. Waters himself called The Diane Linkletter Story “the worst taste thing I ever did.”
In the summer of 1971 Linkletter and Word issued a full length album We Love You, Call Collect Plus Interviews With Young Drug Users. In the sleeve notes, penned by Linkletter himself, Art hopes that “this album could be the jumping-off point in a family rap session which might then serve as the beginning of a communication bridge between the young and the old.” Given the circumstances, you have to admit that was an unfortunate turn of phrase…
Download Call HERE
Download Mom HERE