Funt in 1972
|Born||Allen Albert Funt
September 16, 1914
New York, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 5, 1999
Pebble Beach, California
|Occupation||Producer, director, writer|
Allen Albert Funt (September 16, 1914 – September 5, 1999) was an American television producer, director, writer and television personality best known as the creator and host of Candid Camera from the 1940s to 1980s, as either a regular television show or a television series of specials. Its most notable run was from 1960 to 1967 on CBS.
Radio and television
Funt received a BA in Fine Arts from Cornell University in 1934 and studied business administration at Columbia University. After a stint in the military making radio shows, he began the show on ABC Radio as The Candid Microphone on June 28, 1947, and it ran until September 23, 1948. The program was revived on CBS June 6 – August 29, 1950. He soon experimented with a visual version by doing a series of theatrical short films also known as Candid Microphone. These film shorts served as a springboard for his entrance into television on August 10, 1948.
Funt wrote several books, beginning with Eavesdropper at Large: Adventures in Human Nature with "Candid Mike" (Vanguard Press, 1952). He followed Candid Kids (Bernard Geis, 1964) with Candidly, Allen Funt: A Million Smiles Later (Barricade Books, 1994).
During the 1970s, Funt made two documentary films based on the hidden camera theme: What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? (1970) and Money Talks (1972). Funt also produced a syndicated version of Candid Camera from 1974 to 1979; his co-hosts included, at various times, John Bartholomew Tucker, Phyllis George and Jo Ann Pflug. In the 1980s, Funt produced a series of adult-oriented videos called Candid Candid Camera.
In 1946, Funt married Evelyn Michal (1920–2014) with whom he had three children, Peter, Patricia and John. In 1964 the couple was divorced and the same year Funt married Marilyn Laron, whom he divorced in 1978. The couple had two children Juliet and William. Funt had seven grandchildren.
On February 3, 1969, Funt, his then wife, and his two youngest children boarded Eastern Airlines Flight 7 in Newark with a destination of Miami. While en route, two men hijacked the plane and demanded passage to Cuba. But some of the passengers, having spotted Funt, believed the whole thing to be a Candid Camera stunt. Funt repeatedly attempted to persuade his fellow passengers as to the reality of the hijacking, but to no avail. The plane later landed in Cuba, finally convincing the passengers.
He amassed a collection of works by the Victorian painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema, and engineered an exhibition of them at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art (bypassing the wishes of then director Thomas Hoving) which caused their value to skyrocket, after which he sold them at a handsome profit.
Born in New York City, Funt lived for a time in Westchester County, New York in Croton-on-Hudson. His White Gates estate was sold to opera singer Jessye Norman in the early 1990s. He later purchased a 1200-acre ranch between Carmel and Big Sur, California. The ranch is now owned by The Trust For Public Land. After a stroke in 1993, he became incapacitated and died in 1999 in Pebble Beach, California, 11 days before his 85th birthday. Candid Camera continued with his son, Peter Funt, as host.
- Alma-Tadema (Catalogue of the Funt Collection) compiled by Russell Ash, Sotheby’s Belgravia, 1973
- Vallance, Tom (September 8, 1999). "Obituary: Allen Funt". The Independent.
- "Allen Funt 1914–1999". candidcamera.com. Archived from the original on July 2, 2007. Retrieved July 11, 2007.
- "Smile My Ass". RadioLab. WNYC. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
- Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3, pp. 135–136.
- "You're NOT on 'Candid Camera': Allen Funt was on hijacked flight, passengers took it for a prank". DangerousMinds.