Retirement not an option for lively Art Linkletter, 96
If you’re Art Linkletter, you will. The entertainer, entrepreneur and self-professed lifelong learner says he not only works every day, but he has business deals in the pipeline that won’t come to fruition for five years.
Shouldn’t he be in a rocking chair somewhere, or fishing — or at least slowing down a bit? After all, at 96, most would say he’s earned his retirement.
Linkletter doesn’t see it that way. For him, working fuels his excitement and enjoyment of life, and only adds to the driving need he has to contribute every day, he says.
Interviewed on his 96th birthday from his home in California, Linkletter says: “Honestly, I don’t feel any different than I did 10 years ago.”
“I feel better than ever,” he says. “I feel optimistic.”
The author of more than two dozen books, including “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” and the recipient of 18 honorary doctorates, Linkletter also spearheads, or participates in, numerous charitable organizations.
And there’s also Linkletter the businessman, who is focusing on solar energy and building more affordable, quality housing for low-income seniors.
So Linkletter says he can’t imagine not working, even in his 90s.
While Linkletter is probably best known for his radio and television work, he points out that he’s had a wide variety of jobs during his lifetime, including a stint as a (nude) model for an art class and as a casino detective trying to catch cheaters and thieves.
Abandoned as a child by his birth parents, Linkletter was raised by a street preacher and his wife. He says he barely owned a suit of clothes until he was 20 and did not have any kind of “normal family life.”
“I guess that’s why I’m so optimistic. When you start from such a low position . . .”
Still, Linkletter doesn’t wear rose-colored glasses. On the day he was interviewed, he was disturbed to learn from a local newspaper story that one out of every four area high school students is dropping out.
“That’s a terrible, terrible thing,” Linkletter says. “Those kids are our future, and the future of the companies in this country. We need these kids to be involved and to have a better education.”
In typical Linkletter style, however, he immediately calls for action. “More seniors need to get involved and volunteer to help these kids,” he says. “You have to keep participating and helping others. That’s what keeps you alive and keeps your life meaningful.”
Linkletter says that one of the reasons he remains so upbeat and positive about the future “is because the world is so much better than when I was young.”
“There is no comparison,” he says. “When I was young, we didn’t have heart surgery or brain surgery. People died of a lot of diseases that can now be cured. We have wonderful things ahead.”
Beginning his day about 7:30 a.m., Linkletter goes to his office in Beverly Hills, checks his messages and makes phone calls to contacts in politics, business, education and real estate. Then it’s time for lunch, and often a swim and a massage before business meetings later in the afternoon. He says he loves spending time with his 18 great-grandchildren, who he says keep him informed about technology and other trends. He has been married for 73 years.