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  Tribute to Allen Funt, September 27, 1999

House of Representatives
The Honorable Sam Farr
Of California

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor a man who with boundless energy and enthusiasm spread laughter throughout the nation with his long-running TV show "Candid Camera." Allen Funt died at his home in Pebble Beach on September 5, 1999 at the age of 84.
    Born on September 16, 1914 in New York, Allen attended Cornell University graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts. As an undergraduate student, Allen was a scholar of human nature and conducted psychology experiments which began his interest in people's reactions. Mr. Funt also worked as an assistant for an Eleanor Roosevelt radio show from which he began to engender ideas about combining spontaneous reactions of people with radio. During World War II, Allen was enlisted in the Army and served in the Army Signal Corps where he continued to study his idea about combining spontaneous reactions and radio as he experimented with location recording and concealment techniques. After leaving the Army, Allen founded "Candid Microphone" on ABC in 1948. In 1960, CBS picked up the show for a seven-year run and for the year 1960-61 it was the seventh-best rated show in the nation. CBS now airs "Candid Camera" with Allen's son, Peter Funt, as the host.
    For half a century Allen Funt loved to make people smile. He was a visionary who pioneered what has become an entire programming genre, but who also genuinely cared about people and appreciated the healing power of laughter. In the late 1960s, Allen donated his entire Candid Camera film library to the psychology department of his alma mater, Cornell University, in order to share his insights into the human psyche and his work with the students. After settling in the Monterey Peninsula in 1978, Allen held fundraisers to support Carmel schools in the 1980s and donated "Candid Camera" tapes to hospitals and the homes of the terminally ill as well as started the "Laughter Therapy Foundation."
    Allen Funt was truly a remarkable man who will be fondly remembered for his ingenuity and enthusiasm. His appreciation of laughter's power to heal provided for fifty-two years of good comedy for the entire nation. Allen will be missed by the countless numbers of people he touched both personally and through his "Candid Camera" show around the world

Candid Camera's Creator,
Allen Funt, Dead at 84

    PEBBLE BEACH, California - Allen Funt, creator and original host of the landmark television hit Candid Camera, died September 5, 1999, at his home here. He was 84.
    The cause of death was reported by his family as "continuing complications from a serious stroke suffered in 1993."
    Funt's unique idea, catching unsuspecting people "in the act of being themselves," began on radio as Candid Microphone in 1947. The following year the program moved to television, where it continues today as a CBS-TV series produced and hosted by Funt's oldest son, Peter.
    Allen Funt was active in Candid Camera's management until the time of his stroke, then retired to his home in Pebble Beach.
    "During the last six years of my father's incapacitation," said Peter Funt, "our entire family was inspired by his courage. He endured many hospitalizations and treatments, yet did so with good spirit and a ferocious will to live."
    Allen Funt is survived by five children: Peter, Patricia, John, Juliet and William; and four grandchildren: Stephanie, Daniel, Katherine and Anna.
    Donations in his memory may be sent to the Laughter Therapy Foundation, which he created for the purpose of providing Candid Camera tapes at no charge to critically ill patients. The address is: Laughter Therapy, Box 827, Monterey, CA 93942.
    A private memorial service was held September 17 in Hollywood.

Statement by Peter Funt
on the Death of Allen Funt

    For someone who based five decades of work on his fascination with ordinary people, my dad was, himself, quite extraordinary.
    Although often viewed as a practical joker, he was actually a rather serious student of human nature.
    While his Candid Camera program could be dismissed as hokey or slapstick, its archives are, to this day, used in college sociology courses, in business training, and even for medical research.
   Allen Funt was one of the inventors of the entire genre of "reality" television. In an age when TV shows are considered successful if they survive 13 weeks, it's unheard of for a program to still be pleasing millions of people after 50 years!
   He was a tough guy. When he suffered serious stroke in 1993, doctors gave him a few weeks to live, perhaps a few months. Instead, he battled for more than six years—through many hospitalizations and treatments—in a private way that was inspirational to me and the rest of our family.
    I once asked him what he considered his proudest achievement. His answer: "To be able to go almost anywhere in the world and have someone say, 'Thanks, Allen. You made me smile.'"

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