…you’re on Candid Camera!

Many of us are familiar with one or more versions of this long-time television program. Created and produced by Allen Funt, it originally aired on radio in 1947 as Candid Microphone and then transitioned to television in 1948. It appeared at one time or another on all three major U.S. television networks as either a standalone program or as a feature in other popular programs. Allen Funt continued as host of the show until 1993 when a stroke forced his retirement. The program’s co-hosts and writing staff are a “Who’s Who” of television celebrity of the era, including Arthur Godfrey, Woody Allen, Fannie Flagg, and Suzanne Somers, among many others.

The premise of the show was to film the reactions of ordinary people to contrived situations that often involved trick props. When the joke was revealed, victims were encouraged to “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!” In many ways, Candid Camera can be considered the gentler forerunner of today’s reality programming. However, Peter Funt (Allen’s son and successor as host and producer of the program) was disappointed by most imitation hidden camera/prank shows because, in his opinion, they were usually more interested in showing how stupid people could be rather than the Candid Camera perspective of highlighting positive aspects of human reactions to unexpected circumstances.

Finally, though the phrase “candid camera” is usually associated with Funt’s television program, the term was actually coined in 1928 after Dr. Erich Salomon used a hidden camera to take unposed pictures of diplomats at a League of Nations meeting. The London newspaper that published Salomon’s photos used the term “candid” to describe them; soon after the phrase “candid camera” was used to for photographs when a subject did not know he/she was being photographed.

Posted for Jenny Matlock’s AlphabeThursday study of the letter “C.” For Round 5 of this long-running meme, I am focusing on colloquialisms and idioms—those informal words and phrases that are unique to a region or have meanings that aren’t necessarily discernible from the combined meanings of the individual words. I missed the first two weeks of this round but, if you are interested, you can check out my catch-up entries here and here.

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Wikipedia’s Candid Camera and Dr. Erich Salomon entries
Morris, W., & Morris, M. (1988). Morris dictionary of word and phrase origins. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

10 thoughts on “Smile!

  1. I loved the original candid camera…the latest “version” is Betty White’s “Off Our Rockers”…the first few episodes were pretty funny, but then it got kind of corny.

  2. Candid Camera is one of those shows I have heard a lot about but never seen, but I do like the sound of a gentiler version than the prank shows of today. I don’t like those at all.

    Many thanks for your best wishes – I’m feeling a lot better thanks!

  3. Oh yes, I remember Candid Camera – there have been many imitators in the years since it was produced, but nothing has been as good. I think it was the lack of meanness in the show – it was all good fun.

  4. Oh, I remember that early day program watching with my Dad, it was our Friday night get together for a laugh, giggle and tears! Great memories, thanks x

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