Of course you know the premise of the show – catching ordinary people “in the act of being themselves.” Long before Punk’d and America’s Funniest Home Videos, and way before YouTube, Candid Camera recognized the potential of reality video.
The show actually started on radio, which is a little hard to imagine now, given its association with visual gags. It debuted in 1947 as “Candid Microphone.” For the next decade, it surfaced here and there before becoming a regular television segment, first on the Tonight Show in 1958 and the Garry Moore Show in 1959. It finally emerged as a stand-alone show in 1960. It had its longest run on Sunday nights until 1967 when it was a top 10 program several of those years.
Allen Funt not only created and produced the show, but introduced the segments. His affection for the people featured on the show was both obvious and contagious. For most of his run on network television, he was assisted by Durward Kirby, a droll but likable guy. Allen’s son Peter Funt became the co-host when the show appeared as occasional specials, then took over for the syndicated series. Unfortunately, he lacked his father’s ebullient personality, and Candid Camera isn’t on the air today.