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  ALLEN 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&#151all 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 major corporations.
    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 Fine Arts.
    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&#