Diane Linkletter (October 31, 1948 – October 4, 1969) was the daughter and youngest child of popular American media personality Art Linkletter, and his wife Lois Foerster. In 1969, she reportedly died by suicide at the age of 20.
|Died||October 4, 1969 20) (aged|
|Cause of death||Suicide|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills|
(m. 1965; annul. 1965)
|Relatives||Jack Linkletter (brother)|
Not widely known to the public before she died, Diane Linkletter was the youngest of five children born to Art Linkletter and his wife Lois Foerster. Walt Disney is Diane's godfather.
In 1965, 17-year-old Linkletter married 19-year-old Grant Conroy. The brief marriage was quickly annulled and was not publicized, as both Linkletter's and Conroy's families wanted to keep the marriage quiet. Linkletter pursued a career in acting. She performed in summer stock, and in 1968 she appeared in a sketch on The Red Skelton Show, then traveled with her father to Europe to entertain servicemen's families.
At 9 a.m. on October 4, 1969, Linkletter jumped out of a window of her sixth-floor apartment at the Shoreham Towers in West Hollywood, California. She was first taken to Hollywood Receiving Hospital, then to Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center where she died of injuries she sustained in the fall. Her father blamed her death, which the media widely reported at the time, on drug use, specifically LSD.
Edward Durston, the last person known to have seen Diane alive, said that he had attempted to grab her, but she had jumped over the balcony. Durston was also the last person to see the actress Carol Wayne alive, who disappeared after an argument with him.
The day after Diane's death, Art Linkletter held a press conference where he stated that Diane's death "wasn't a suicide. She was not herself. She was murdered by the people who manufacture and distribute LSD." He also stated that Diane had used LSD in the six months prior to her death and the two discussed a "bum trip" Diane had experienced. Although Linkletter hadn't spoken to Diane in the last 24 hours of her life, he believed that she had taken LSD the night before her death and had experienced another bad trip which caused her to leap to her death.
A police investigation was launched to determine the events surrounding Linkletter's death. Police questioned Edward Durston, who claimed that Linkletter had phoned him the night before her death and "was very upset" and asked him to come over. He went to Linkletter's apartment at around 3 a.m., and the two stayed up all night talking. He claimed that Linkletter's behavior was "extremely emotional, extremely despondent and very irrational at times, in fact most of the time." He said she was also upset over her career and complained that she "could not be her own person."
Based on Edward Durston's account and the toxicology reports, police concluded that Linkletter's death was a suicide caused by her despondent mental state.
After Diane's death, Art Linkletter became a prominent anti-drug campaigner.
In 1970, Art and Diane Linkletter won the 1970 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Recording for their record "We Love You, Call Collect". The record, which was released in November 1969—just a few weeks after her death—sold 275,000 copies in eight weeks, peaking at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100. According to Art Linkletter, royalties from the sales went "to combat problems arising from drug abuse."
In popular culture
- On October 5, 1969, the day after Diane Linkletter's death, filmmaker John Waters made a nine-minute film entitled The Diane Linkletter Story, a fictionalized version of the events surrounding Linkletter's death.
- In David Foster Wallace's posthumous novel The Pale King, an IRS officer recounting his recreational drug use in the 1970s before joining the Service states that "personally psychedelics frightened me, mostly because of what I remembered happening to Art Linkletter's daughter—my parents had been very into watching Art Linkletter in my childhood."
- "TV Show Host Art Linkletter Dies at 97". foxnews.com. 2010-05-26. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- Scott, Walter (1970-01-10). "Walter Scott's Personality Parade". The Spokesman-Review. p. 2. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- Heffernan, Harold (1968-02-18). "Diane's Glad Of Her Show Business Link". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- Mikkelson, Barbara (2005-08-15). "The Scarlet Linkletter". snopes.com.
- "Linkletter Blames LSD For Death Of Daughter". The Morning Record. 1969-10-06. p. 1. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- "Art Linkletter: It Wasn't Suicide, It Was Murder". The Dispatch. 1969-10-06. p. 4. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
- "Profits of Tragedy". Time. 1970-01-05. Retrieved 2008-01-16.
- D.F. Wallace, The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel (Little, Brown 2011), p. 179.