Candid Camera

Candid Camera (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Candid Camera is an American hidden camera/practical joke reality 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. Its last original broadcast was on May 5, 2004.

The format has appeared on U.S. TV networks and in syndication (first-run) 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. His son Peter Funt, who had co-hosted the specials with his father since 1987, became the producer and host.


The show involved concealing 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 catchphrase, "Smile, you're on Candid Camera."

The show often played its hidden-camera pranks on celebrities as well: one 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.

In another episode, the show filmed the reactions of citizens after they saw the former President Harry S. Truman walking down the street, occasionally stopping to ask the time.

Radio history

Candid Microphone was first heard on Saturday, June 28, 1947, at 7:30 p.m. on ABC radio. That series came to an end on September 23, 1948.

Beginning June 6, 1950, Candid Microphone was broadcast by CBS on Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., and that summer series, sponsored by Philip Morris, continued for three months until August 29. The announcer for the radio program was Dorian St. George (1911"2004).

TV history

Funt brought his program to ABC television in 1948, using the Candid Microphone title of the radio series, and then switched to NBC in the fall of 1949 (for Philip Morris, with Ken Roberts as his announcer), at which point its name was changed to Candid Camera. The format moved to syndication in 1951 and continued for three years before returning to NBC in 1958 as a segment of Jack Paar's 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 on late Sunday evenings. Producer/host Funt was joined on stage by CBS veteran Arthur Godfrey the first season, Garry Moore Show announcer/sidekick Durward Kirby from 1961 to 1966 and Bess Myerson for the final season of the run, at which time it also began broadcasting in color. Buster Keaton appeared on the show; clips of his stunts were included in Thames Television's tribute to the comic actor. Among the annual winners was 1965's traffic cop Vic Cianca with the Pittsburgh Police who gained national exposure through the show and later appeared in Budweiser commercials as well as Italian TV and the movie Flashdance . A then-unknown Woody Allen was one of the writers for the show in the 1960s and performed in some scenarios.

Following an ABC special in the summer of 1974 celebrating the program's 25th anniversary, 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. This version was taped at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York for its first season, then moved to WTVF in Nashville for the remainder of its run.

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. Produced by Vin Di Bona, 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 three more years before suspending production.


The 1960"67 run was arguably the most successful version of the show, according to the Nielsen ratings:

  • 1960"61: #7 (27.3 rating)
  • 1961"62: #10 (25.5 rating)
  • 1962"63: #2 (31.1 rating)
  • 1963"64: #7 (27.7 rating)


In 1970, Funt wrote, narrated, directed, and produced a Candid Camera-style theatrical reality film, What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? A second film, Money Talks, followed in 1972.

What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? eventually led to a series of videotapes of an adult-oriented (containing nudity) version of Candid Camera, produced in the 1980s, called Candid Candid Camera. These videos would be shown on HBO and the Playboy Channel.


The 1960s version was seen in reruns on CBS daytime from 1966 to 1968, with local stations continuing to air the series for the next several years, and it was also aired by Ha! in the early 1990s.

The 1970s version continued to play on local stations for several years after its cancellation, followed by a run on cable's USA Network later in the 1980s, and another go-round on both Comedy Central and E! in the early 1990s.

Reruns of the PAX version were carried by GMC TV for a time in 2011, while both the 60s and 70s versions currently air on JLTV.


A British version of Candid Camera began in 1960 and ran for seven years. It was initially presented by David Nixon and featured Jonathan Routh and Arthur Atkins as pranksters. The show briefly returned in 1974, hosted by Peter Dulay, this one featured Arthur Atkins and Sheila Bernette. Another series was aired in 1976 with Jonathan Routh in charge, in which Peter Dulay produced. These two, 1970s series reappeared from 1986, with an opening sequence from Peter Dulay. Jeremy Beadle made his name hosting prank shows, notably Beadle's About in the 1980s. Channel 4 and Dom Joly developed Trigger Happy TV in the early part of the 21st Century. A similar style show with no real presenter went out as Just For Laughs on the BBC, around the same time.

An Australian version of Candid Camera, with the same name, began in the late 1990s and ran until the end of the 20th century. It was successful until the show was canceled for unknown reasons. Quebec saw its own adaptation titled Les insolences d'une caméra.

A wave of other American hidden-camera prank shows began in the 1980s: Totally Hidden Video was shown 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 was a series which gave cash prizes to unsuspecting subjects in the street who answered trivia questions but did not realize they were on a game show. More recent prank shows have been: Girls Behaving Badly, Just For Laughs Gags, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, Boiling Points, Trigger Happy TV, and Howie Do It. And perhaps 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.

In a 2010 interview, Peter Funt commented on some of these shows, saying,

We've always come at it from the idea that we believe people are wonderful and we're out to confirm it. Our imitators and other shows, whether it's Jamie Kennedy or Punk'd, often seem to come at it from the opposite perspective, which is that people are stupid, and we're going to find ways to underscore that.


In a suit against Peter Funt, Pax and the Mohave County Airport Authority, Philip Zelnick, 35, claimed he was injured June 15, 2001 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, although Funt and the show appealed and later reached a considerably lower, undisclosed settlement. An out of court settlement was also reached with the Mohave County Airport Authority, with Zelnick accepting an amount of $95,000 from the airport. PAX TV also awarded Mr. Zelnick $7,500 out of court.




  • Candid Camera Christmas
  • Candid Camera Golf Gags
  • Candid Camera's All-Time Funniest Moments Parts I & II
  • Candid Camera's Biggest Surprises
  • Candid Camera's Pets & Animals
  • Candid Candid Camera (adult content)
  • Candid Kids


  • Best of the 1960s Volume One
  • Best of the 1960s Volume Two
  • Best of the 1970s Volume Two
  • Best of the 1970s Volume One
  • Best of the 1980s Volume One
  • Best of the 1990s Volume One
  • Best of Today Volume One
  • Best of Today Volume Two
  • Candid Camera Greatest Moments
  • Candid Camera: Fooling The Senses
  • Green Kid
  • Inspirational Smiles
  • Most Requested Characters
  • The Funt Family Collection

Classic audio CD

  • Candid Microphone (1960)

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Candid Camera". Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions this article may contain.

Page generated in 0.72964787483215 seconds