I don’t view myself as a Nostalgia show host. I love old radio detective shows because of their quality, rarely touched in modern attempts, either in the fiber of the characters, or in the quality of the stories. They don’t make them like that anymore.
However, there are some shows that fill me with a nostalgic sense, and a great example of this is the radio and later TV hit, People are Funny. After the recent death of Mr. Art Linkletter, who I’d only seen from archive footage from his House Party days, I put five episodes of his game show where he gave out cash and prizes while challenging his audience to do stunts. People went along with the gag for the fun of it, more than for the prizes.
The show had something very gentle about its humor. While the idea of paying people money to do stunts isn’t unusual, today such stunts often involve doing things that are immoral or dangerous (see Temptation Island), and creating artificial hatreds and tensions with greed as a fuel for treachery (Survivor), as well as exploiting people’s real emotions, dreams, and feelings for high ratings (too many shows to list.)
Art Linkletter’s game show thought people were funny, but it also showed a respect for people. The stunts might cause some temporary embarassment like when Linkletter dispatached a man to sell Goat’s Milk door to door in a ritzy hotel, but they weren’t really going to hurt people in the long run. There was no attempt to gain ratings by exploiting people. There was a sense that the show was all in good fun, and audience, host, and guests were laughing together.
Of course, this isn’t to say that all was perfect in America during the 1950s. I’ll be the first to admit that the country was far from perfect back then (as the world always was), and these shows will have reminders of things we were better off leaving behind.
However,one part of the 1950s I am nostalgic about is the grace and class of Art Linkletter. Sadly, they don’t make many like that anymore.