Allen Funt's 'Candid Camera' Created Hidden Camera Prank TV

By | January 18, 2018

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Allen Funt, host of Candid Camera, seated at television set. Image dated May 20, 1960. Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Hidden camera or prank TV shows seem commonplace today, but Ashton Kutcher of Punk'd fame didn't invent them. Host Allen Funt's Candid Camera did -- over 70 years ago. Funt's hidden-camera practical joking goes back so far that it began as The Candid Microphone, in 1947. That sounds like a joke, but it's not -- Candid Camera created by Allen Funt, who died in 1999, essentially predated TV and televised entertainment. 

As Allen Funt became to old to host the show, duties were passed down to his son, Peter Funt, who was born around the time that The Candid Microphone debuted on radio, and is now in his early '70s.

Allen Funt enjoyed laughing, even at himself and knew that others usually did too. He perfected the art of catching unsuspecting people off guard in the funniest situations. The cameras were always well hidden and never failed to catch people in the act of being themselves.

A TV Institution

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Funt got his start in radio as the creative mind behind gimmicks for radio programs, and hit upon a winner with The Candid Microphone, which aired on the radio for just over a year before Funt made the jump to TV.

Candid Camera has come and gone many times since beginning in 1948. It's been a network prime-time show, a syndicated show, and a segment of network talk shows. The longest uninterrupted run that Candid Camera had was in a Sunday evening spot on CBS from 1960-67. During periods when Candid Camera wasn't an ongoing series, it did pop up as one-off specials. Allen Funt never failed to entertain viewers for all those years. Candid Camera last aired in 2014, on the TVLand network, hosted by Mayim Bialik -- but given its history, it's a fair bet to assume it will be back.

People could watch the same skits over and over and laugh just as hard every time. Even in reruns, Candid Camera was a breath of fresh air; almost like it was brand new.