I first and only time I saw Art Linkletter was about six years ago. I was in the West Wing outer office at the White House waiting to interview President Bush. Linkletter also had an appointment to see the president before me. There he was with no entourage; the man I recall from black and white TV and the original host (before Bill Cosby) of "Kids Say the Darndest Things."

Art didn't look 90 years old. He was charming, friendly and funny. While I have had the pleasure of meeting other pioneers in television (including General David Sarnoff, the founder of RCA, which became the parent company of NBC) and Steve Allen (first host of "The Tonight Show"), Art Linkletter created the kind of television entire families could -- and would -- watch together.

The innocence of children saying hilarious and sometimes outrageous things is a far cry from today's murder-mayhem and shows drenched with sex and bad language. One might say that television long ago left Art Linkletter. And now he has left us. Television and all Americans, including those not old enough to have seen his shows, are diminished by his passing.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated newspaper columnist and a Fox News contributor. 

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