FUNT 1914 - 1999
Allen Funt, creator and original host of the landmark television
series Candid Camera, perfected an art that has entertained people for nearly 60 years. From a humble start on radio in 1947, he used hidden microphones and cameras
to catch unsuspecting people worldwide—all in the spirit of fun.
Allen Funt's preoccupation with catching people off-guard and making
them laugh at themselves took many forms. Following the success of Candid Microphone
on the ABC Radio Network, Candid Camera was launched in 1948 and became a top-rated
TV show in both network runs and syndication. In 1968, Funt also produced his
first feature-length motion picture, the hidden-camera study of sexuality, "What
Do You Say to a Naked Lady?" His other credits included 40 movie shorts for Columbia
Pictures, three books"Eavesdropper at Large," "Candid Kids" and "Candidly,
Allen Funt"seven record albums and more than 100 sales training films for
How does one prepare for a career hiding cameras, dreaming up crazy
situations and delighting people with their own foolishness? Allen Funt's early
years gave few clues. Born September 16, 1914, in New York City, the son of a
diamond merchant, Funt graduated from high school at the precocious age of 15.
Too young for college and eager for a career in art, he attended Pratt Institute
in Brooklyn before entering Cornell University, from which he earned a B.A. in
After graduation he attended Columbia University School of Business
Administration and then returned to Pratt for additional courses in art, which
led to a job in the art department of an advertising agency. He subsequently became
a copywriter and then joined the radio department, where he found his true métier.
He became a radio idea man, dreaming up gimmicks for shows.
During World War II, the Army Signal Corps put Funt and his radio
experience to good use for five years. While in the service, Funt experimented
with the then young art of location recording, using a wire recorder, the predecessor
of today's tape recorder. The portability of the contraption led Funt to try out
various concealment techniques. The happy result was Candid Microphone, which
premiered on ABC Radio soon after Funt left the Army.
Funt, who never regarded himself as an actor, soon found himself playing
many characters in the program&#