Art Linkletter, Early Father of Reality TV, Dead At 97

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Art Linkletter walks through the Hollywood Pictures Backlot at the opening of Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim, California in 2001

REUTERS / Sam Mircovich / Files

Art Linkletter, the man who conceived of Kids Say the Darndest Things, who firmly believed that everyday people could make for entertaining primetime TV, died today at the age of 97.

Born in 1912, and going on to mold a career that spanned radio, television, humor, and celebrity endorsements, Linkletter was a trailblazer in the concept of reality TV. TIME’s television critic James Poniewozik takes a look back at Linkletter’s inimitable, groundbreaking career. Read his remembrance here.