Candid Camera

Candid Camera

Infobox Television
show_name = Candid Camera

caption = Candid Camera's producer, director and regular host Allen Funt
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country = USA
language = English
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first_aired = August 10, 1948
last_aired = May 23, 2004
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imdb_id = 40034
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"Candid Camera" was a television series created and produced by Allen Funt, which initially began on radio as "Candid Microphone" June 28, 1947. After a series of theatrical film shorts, also titled "Candid Microphone", Funt's concept came to television on August 10, 1948.

The format has appeared on network, syndicated or cable television in each succeeding decade, as either a regular show or a series of specials. Funt himself hosted or co-hosted almost all of the TV versions until a 1993 stroke from which he never recovered. Funt's son Peter Funt, who had co-hosted the specials with his father since 1987, is now the producer/host of the format.

The premise of the show involved concealed cameras filming ordinary people being confronted with unusual situations, sometimes involving trick props, such as a desk with drawers that pop open when one is closed or a car with a hidden extra gas tank. When the joke was revealed, victims would be told the show's catch phrase, "Smile, you're on "Candid Camera"." With humor based on putting real people in fabricated situations, the show was a precursor to the more recent wave of prank shows such as "Punk'd", "Girls Behaving Badly", "Fear Factor", "Just For Laughs Gags" and Boiling Points.

Writer Woody Allen got his start writing for the show in the 1960s and performed in some scenarios. Buster Keaton and Muhammad Ali also appeared in "Candid Camera" segments.

The show often played its hidden camera pranks on celebrities as well. One memorable episode had actress Ann Jillian (who is Lithuanian) scheduled to make a small donation to a Lithuanian charity. When police officers informed her a con artist was behind the charity, they convinced her to donate a much larger amount with the assurance that he would be arrested when he accepted the check. After the arrest attempt, Jillian was told the man was running a legitimate charity, a set-up that forced her into acting as though she had intended to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars all along.

Radio history

"Candid Microphone" was first heard on Saturday, June 28, 1947, at 7:30pm on ABC radio. The following week it moved to Sundays at 7:00 pm. Beginning in late September 1947, it aired Mondays at 9pm through October, then Thursdays at 8:00pm until May 1948 when it moved to Thursdays at 9:30 pm. That series came to an end on September 23, 1948.

Beginning June 6, 1950, "Candid Microphone" was broadcast by CBS on Tuesdays at 9:30pm, and that summer series, sponsored by Philip Morris, continued for three months until August 29.

TV history

Funt brought his program to ABC television in 1948 and then switched to NBC the next year. The format moved to syndication in 1951 before returning to NBC as a segment of "The Tonight Show". The segment reappeared in 1959 on CBS as a feature on "The Garry Moore Show", before once again becoming a stand-alone show in 1960.

Its longest uninterrupted run came on the 1960-67 CBS version. Producer/host Funt was joined on stage by CBS veteran Arthur Godfrey the first season, "Garry Moore Show" announcer/sidekick Durward Kirby from 1960 to 1966 and Bess Myerson for the final season of the run. Buster Keaton appeared on the show; clips of his stunts were included in Thames Television's tribute to the comic actor. This 1960-1967 run was arguably the most successful version of the show, and the show appeared in the Nielsen ratings during this era too; ratings were: 1960-1961: #7 [] ; 1961-1962: #10 [] ; 1962-1963: #2 [] ; 1963-1964: #7 []

"Candid Camera" returned in 1974 for a five-year run in weekly syndication, with Funt as emcee again and John Bartholomew Tucker and Dorothy Collins as early co-hosts. Fannie Flagg, one of Funt’s writers during the 1960s run, also shared emcee duties with Funt during the 1970s era, as did Phyllis George, Betsy Palmer and Jo Ann Pflug.

The network TV version celebrated its 35th anniversary with an NBC special in 1983. Four years later, a series of occasional "Candid Camera" specials aired on CBS with Peter Funt joining his father as co-host.

The show also aired a season in daily syndication (1991-92) with Dom DeLuise as host and Eva LaRue as co-host. Funt authorized this version, but did not approve of the format or host. He stated in his biography "Candidly" (1994) that he deeply regretted his decision (which he made strictly for financial reasons) mainly because he didn't think DeLuise understood the spirit of the show or was an appropriate host, and also because he felt the bits were weak, uninteresting, and too preoccupied with incorporating the show's sponsor, Pizza Hut, into them in an overtly commercial way.

A 1996 CBS program celebrating the 50th anniversary of the format (dating back to the "Candid Microphone" days) led to another series of occasional "Candid Camera" specials, and then to its return as a weekly CBS show with Peter Funt and Suzanne Somers as co-hosts. The show moved to the PAX network in 2001 with Dina Eastwood as co-host, remaining on the air for a few more years before suspending production.


In the 1960s and 1970s, "Candid Camera" produced over ten tapes of adult-oriented (but not pornographic) stunts and hidden camera gags called "Candid Candid Camera" for HBO and Playboy. For example, a man was hired as a hypnotist's assistant and then a beautiful new lady patient disrobed while "hypnotized".

In 1970, Funt wrote, directed, and produced a feature reality film, "What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?".


A British version of "Candid Camera" began in 1960 and ran for seven years. It was initially presented by Bob Monkhouse and featured Jonathan Routh and Arthur Atkins as pranksters. The show briefly returned in 1974, hosted by Peter Dulay. Jeremy Beadle made his name hosting prank shows, notably "Beadle's About" in the 1980s.

An Australian version of "Candid Camera" with the same name, began in the late 1990s and ran until the end of the century. It was successful until the show was cancelled for unknown reasons. Quebec saw its own adaptation titled "Les insolences d'une caméra".

A wave of other hidden camera and prank shows began in the 1980s: "Totally Hidden Video" was seen on Fox from 1989 until 1992. MTV's Ashton Kutcher vehicle, "Punk'd", devised elaborate pranks on celebrities. Some shows have been criticized because of the potential cruelty inherent in the pranks, such as "Scare Tactics". "Oblivious" gave cash prizes to unsuspecting subjects in the street who answered trivia questions but did not realize they were on a game show. The most ambitious of all was "The Joe Schmo Show" in which Matt Kennedy Gould was surrounded by actors and hoaxed for the entire series. The show also influenced "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment".

"Candid Camera" is currently produced by Funt's son, Peter Funt, and Clint Eastwood's wife, Dina. Previously, Peter Funt co-hosted with Suzanne Somers. The show is currently out of production and syndication.


In a suit filed against Peter Funt, Pax and the Mohave County Airport Authority, Philip Zelnick, 35, claimed he was injured during one of the show's pranks. Funt, posing as a security guard, instructed passengers to go through a fake X-ray machine, and Zelnick received a bruise to his thigh while getting off the conveyor belt. The jury awarded Zelnick a total of $300,000 in punitive damages with Peter Funt and the show ordered to pay $150,000 each. An out of court settlement was also reached with the Mohave County Airport Authority, Mr. Zelnick accepted an amount of $95,000 from the airport. PAX TV also awarded Mr. Zelnick $7,500 out of court.Fact|date=March 2008when

Listen to

* [ "Candid Microphone" with Allen Funt and Bela Lugosi]
* [ "Candid Microphone" (July 14, 1947)]


*Funt, Allen. "Eavesdropper at Large: Adventures in Human Nature with "Candid Mike". Vanguard Press, 1952.
*Funt, Allen. "Candid Kids". Bernard Geis, 1964.
*Funt, Allen. "Candidly, Allen Funt: A Million Smiles Later". Barricade Books, 1994.
* [ "Candid Camera"'s response to the lawsuit settlement]
* Phoenix Wright: Justice for All. In the Detention Center, examine the camera, Phoenix says "Smile, you're on candid camera."

External links

* [ "Candid Camera" official site]
* [ Israeli mockumentary]
* [ "Candid Camera" (1948) at IMDB]
* [ "Candid Camera" (1953) at IMDB]
* [ "Candid Camera" (1960) (American) at IMDB]
* [ "Candid Camera" (1960) (British) at IMDB]
* [ "Candid Camera" (1991) at IMDB]
* [ "Candid Camera" (1992) (New Zealand) at IMDB]
* [ "Candid Camera" (1998) at IMDB]
* [ "What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?" (1970) at IMDB]

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