Candid Camera
For the cartoon, see Elmer's Candid Camera
Elmer's Candid Camera
Elmer's Candid Camera is a 1940 Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Chuck Jones, and first released on March 2, 1940 by Warner Bros.. It marks the first appearance of Elmer Fudd Elmer's Candid Camera is a 1940 Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Chuck Jones, and first released on March 2, 1940 by...

. For the exhibition, see Candid Camera (Australian photographic exhibition)
Candid Camera (Australian photographic exhibition)
Candid Camera: Australian Photography 1950s–1970s was a group retrospective exhibition of social documentary photography held at the Art Gallery of South Australia from 28 May to 1 August 2010....


Candid Camera is a hidden camera
Hidden camera
A hidden camera is a still or video camera used to film people without their knowledge. The camera is "hidden" because it is either not visible to the subject being filmed, or is disguised as another object...

/practical joke
Practical joke
A practical joke is a mischievous trick played on someone, typically causing the victim to experience embarrassment, indignity, or discomfort. Practical jokes differ from confidence tricks in that the victim finds out, or is let in on the joke, rather than being fooled into handing over money or...

 reality television series created and produced by Allen Funt
Allen Funt
Allen Funt was an American television producer, director and writer, television personality, best known as the creator and host of Candid Camera from the 1940s to 1980s, as either a regular television show or a television series of specials...

, which initially began on radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 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 networks and in syndication (first-run) in each succeeding decade—until 2004, 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
Peter Funt
Peter Funt is most notable for his role as an actor, co-host, host, and producer for the hit TV show, Candid Camera. He worked for the Denver-radio station KHOW, ABC Radio Network, a writer for the New York Times, and various other media organizations throughout his career...

, who had co-hosted the specials with his father since 1987, became the producer and host.

The premise

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
Ann Jillian
Ann Jillian is an American actress, who started acting at age 10. Her career reached its zenith in the 1980s, with her best-known role being that of waitress Cassie Cranston on the sitcom It's a Living.-Early life and career:...

 (who is Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

n) 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
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 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
ABC Radio
Cumulus Media Networks is an American radio network owned and operated by Cumulus Media. it controlled many of the assets of the former ABC Radio Networks, which Citadel Broadcasting purchased in June 2007...

. 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
Philip Morris
- Philip/Phillip Morris :*Altria Group, conglomerate company previously known as Philip Morris Companies Inc., named after the 19th century tobacconist**Philip Morris USA, tobacco company wholly owned by Altria Group...

, 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
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 television in 1948 and then briefly switched to NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 before moving to CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 in the fall of 1949 (for Philip Morris, with Ken Roberts
Ken Roberts (announcer)
Ken Roberts was an American radio and television announcer known for his work during the Golden Age of Radio and for his work announcing the daytime television soap operas The Secret Storm, Texas and Love of Life, each for a two-decade span.-Early life and education:Roberts was born on February...

 as his announcer). The format moved to syndication in 1951 before returning to NBC in 1958 as a segment of Jack Paar
Jack Paar
Jack Harold Paar was an author, American radio and television comedian and talk show host, best known for his stint as host of The Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962...

's The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show
The Tonight Show is an American late-night talk show that has aired on NBC since 1954. It is the longest currently running regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States, and the third longest-running show on NBC, after Meet the Press and Today.The Tonight Show has been hosted by...

. The segment reappeared in 1959 on CBS as a feature on The Garry Moore Show
The Garry Moore Show
The Garry Moore Show is the name for several separate American variety series on the CBS television network in the 1950s and 1960s. Hosted by experienced radio performer, Garry Moore, the series helped launch the careers of many comedic talents, such as Don Adams, George Gobel, Carol Burnett, Don...

, 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
Arthur Godfrey
Arthur Morton Godfrey was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead...

 the first season, Garry Moore Show announcer/sidekick Durward Kirby
Durward Kirby
Homer Durward Kirby , known professionally as Durward Kirby , was an American television host and announcer...

 from 1961 to 1966 and Bess Myerson
Bess Myerson
Bess Myerson became the first Jewish woman to win the Miss America pageant in 1945. She appeared on various television shows in the 1950s and 1960s...

 for the final season of the run. Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton
Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton was an American comic actor, filmmaker, producer and writer. He was best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone Face".Keaton was recognized as the...

 appeared on the show; clips of his stunts were included in Thames Television
Thames Television
Thames Television was a licensee of the British ITV television network, covering London and parts of the surrounding counties on weekdays from 30 July 1968 until 31 December 1992....

's tribute to the comic actor. Among the annual winners was 1965's traffic cop Vic Cianca
Vic Cianca
Victor S. "Vic" Cianca, Sr. was a famous traffic police officer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who spent his entire career with the Pittsburgh Police Bureau retiring January 4, 1983 His flamboyant style of directing traffic led to appearances on the television program Candid Camera in 1964, and...

 with the Pittsburgh Police who gained national exposure through the show and later appeared in Budweiser
Budweiser is a German adjective describing something or someone from the city of České Budějovice in Southern Bohemia, Czech Republic.Beer brewing in České Budějovice dates back to the 13th century...

 commercials as well as Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 TV and the movie Flashdance
Another song used in the film, "Maniac", was also nominated for an Academy Award. It was written by Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky, and was inspired by the 1980 horror film Maniac. The lyrics about a killer on the loose were rewritten so that it could be used in Flashdance...
Writer Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

 was one of the writers for the show in the 1960s and performed in some scenarios. Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton
Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton was an American comic actor, filmmaker, producer and writer. He was best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone Face".Keaton was recognized as the...

 and Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist...

 also appeared in Candid Camera segments.

Candid Camera returned in 1974 for a five-year run in weekly syndication, with Funt as emcee again and John Bartholomew Tucker
John Bartholomew Tucker
John Bartholomew Tucker is an American radio and television personality, as well as an author.Along with Big Wilson, Tucker was one of the last two "communicators" of the long-running NBC Radio program Monitor; he was on the air when the show signed off for the last time on January 26, 1975...

 and Dorothy Collins
Dorothy Collins
Dorothy Collins was a Canadian/American singer, actress, and recording artist. She was born Marjorie Chandler in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and adopted her stage name in her mid-teens.-Radio and TV:...

 as early co-hosts. Fannie Flagg
Fannie Flagg
Patricia Neal , known professionally as Fannie Flagg, is an American actress, comedienne and author. She is perhaps best-known for the 1988 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, which was adapted into the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes; Flagg was nominated for an Academy Award for...

, one of Funt’s writers during the 1960s run, also shared emcee duties with Funt during the 1970s era, as did Phyllis George
Phyllis George
Phyllis Ann George Brown is an American businesswoman, actress and a former sportscaster. She is a former Miss Texas and Miss America of 1971.- Early life :...

, Betsy Palmer
Betsy Palmer
Betsy Palmer is an American actress, best known as a regular panelist on the game show I've Got a Secret, and later for playing Pamela Voorhees in the notorious slasher film Friday the 13th.-Life and career:...

 and Jo Ann Pflug
Jo Ann Pflug
Jo Ann Pflug is a former American motion picture and television actress, who retired in the 1990s.Pflug's first major role was as U.S. Army nurse Lt. Maria "Dish" Schneider in 1970's MASH. Other notable roles include the voice of Invisible Girl in the 1967 animated version of Fantastic Four, Lt...


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
Peter Funt
Peter Funt is most notable for his role as an actor, co-host, host, and producer for the hit TV show, Candid Camera. He worked for the Denver-radio station KHOW, ABC Radio Network, a writer for the New York Times, and various other media organizations throughout his career...

 joining his father as co-host.

The show also aired a season in daily syndication (1991-92) with Dom DeLuise
Dom DeLuise
Dominick "Dom" DeLuise was an American actor, comedian, film director, television producer, chef, and author. He was the husband of actress Carol Arthur from 1965 until his death and the father of: actor, director, pianist, and writer Peter DeLuise; actor David DeLuise; and actor Michael DeLuise...

 as host and Eva LaRue
Eva LaRue
Eva Maria LaRue is an American model and actress. She is best known as Doctor Maria Santos on All My Children, and is now a cast regular on CSI: Miami, portraying Detective Natalia Boa Vista of the Miami-Dade Police Department.-Early life:LaRue was born Eva Maria LaRuy in Long Beach, California to...

 as co-host. Produced by Vin Di Bona
Vin Di Bona
Vincent John "Vin" Di Bona is a television producer for many American television shows such as America's Funniest People, MacGyver and Entertainment Tonight as well as America's Funniest Home Videos...

, 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
Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut is an American restaurant chain and international franchise that offers different styles of pizza along with side dishes including pasta, buffalo wings, breadsticks, and garlic bread....

, 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
Suzanne Somers
Suzanne Somers is an American actress, author, singer and businesswoman, known for her television roles as Chrissy Snow on Three's Company and as Carol Lambert on Step by Step....

 as co-hosts.

The show moved to the PAX network in 2001 with Dina Eastwood
Dina Eastwood
Dina Ruiz Eastwood is an American reporter, TV news anchor and film actress. In March 1996 she married actor/director Clint Eastwood and has acted in two films which he directed.- Private life :...

 as co-host, remaining on the air for a few more years before suspending production.


The 1960-1967 run was arguably the most successful version of the show, according to the Nielsen ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

  • 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 the 1960s and 1970s, Candid Camera produced over ten videotapes of adult-oriented (containing nudity) stunts and hidden camera gags called Candid Candid Camera for HBO and Playboy
Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with...

. 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, narrated, directed, and produced a Candid Camera-style theatrical reality film
Reality film
Reality film or reality movie describes a genre of films that have resulted from reality television, such as The Real Cancun, MTV's film version of The Real World, which was originally titled Spring Break: The Reality Movie...

, What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?
What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?
What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? is a hidden-camera style reality film released in 1970, and directed by Candid Camera creator Allen Funt...

A second film, Money Talks, followed in 1972.


A British version of Candid Camera began in 1960 and ran for seven years. It was initially presented by Bob Monkhouse
Bob Monkhouse
Robert Alan "Bob" Monkhouse, OBE was an English entertainer. He was a successful comedy writer, comedian and actor and was also well known on British television as a presenter and game show host...

 and featured Jonathan Routh
Jonathan Routh
Jonathan Reginald Surdeval Routh co-starred in the British version of the television show Candid Camera and co-starred with Germaine Greer and Kenny Everett in a later attempt at a revival, Nice Time...

 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
Jeremy Beadle
Jeremy James Anthony Gibson-Beadle MBE was an English television presenter, writer and producer. During the 1980s, he was a regular face on British television and in two years appeared 50 weeks of the year. His shows regularly topped the charts beating Coronation Street and EastEnders on one...

 made his name hosting prank shows, notably Beadle's About
Beadle's About
Beadle's About was a British television programme hosted by the late Jeremy Beadle, where members of the public became victims of practical jokes behind hidden cameras...

in the 1980s. Channel 4 and Dom Joly
Dom Joly
Dominic John Romulus "Dom" Joly is a British television comedian and journalist. He came to note as the star of Trigger Happy TV, a hidden camera show that was sold to over seventy countries worldwide...

 developed Trigger Happy TV
Trigger Happy TV
Trigger Happy TV was a hidden camera/practical joke reality television program. The original British edition of the show, produced by Absolutely Productions, starred Dom Joly and ran for two series on the British television channel Channel 4 from 2000 until 2002...

 in the early part of the 21st Century. A similar style show with no real presenter went out as Just For Laughs
Just for Laughs
Just for Laughs is a comedy festival held each July in Montreal, Quebec, founded in 1983. It is the largest international comedy festival in the world.- Information :...

 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 century. It was successful until the show was cancelled for unknown reasons. Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 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
Totally Hidden Video
Totally Hidden Video was an American television show that aired on the Fox Network from 1989 to 1992, with Steve Skrovan as host for the first two years and Mark Pitta taking over in 1991...

was shown on Fox
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Broadcasting Company, commonly referred to as Fox Network or simply Fox , is an American commercial broadcasting television network owned by Fox Entertainment Group, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Launched on October 9, 1986, Fox was the highest-rated broadcast network in the...

 from 1989 until 1992. MTV
MTV, formerly an initialism of Music Television, is an American network based in New York City that launched on August 1, 1981. The original purpose of the channel was to play music videos guided by on-air hosts known as VJs....

's Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher
Christopher Ashton Kutcher , best known as Ashton Kutcher, is an American actor, producer, former fashion model and comedian, best known for his portrayal of Michael Kelso in the Fox sitcom That '70s Show...

 vehicle, Punk'd
Punk'd is an American hidden camera/practical joke reality television series that first aired on MTV in 2003 and was created by Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, produced and hosted by Ashton Kutcher. It bore a resemblance to both the classic hidden camera show Candid Camera and to TV's Bloopers...

, devised elaborate pranks on celebrities. Some shows have been criticized because of the potential cruelty inherent in the pranks, such as Scare Tactics
Scare Tactics
Scare Tactics is a hidden camera/comedy television show, produced by Hallock Healey Entertainment. Its first two seasons aired from April 2003 to December 2004. After a hiatus, the show returned for a third season, beginning July 9, 2008. The first season of the show was hosted by Shannen Doherty....

. Oblivious
Oblivious is a comedy game show that aired within the United States of America on TNN/Spike TV at various points between 2002 and 2004.It was also aired on Challenge in the UK, Ireland and The Comedy Channel in Australia and still airs on Real TV in South Korea and on TV2 Zebra in Norway. It no...

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
Game show
A game show is a type of radio or television program in which members of the public, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes...

. More recent prank shows have been: Girls Behaving Badly
Girls Behaving Badly
Girls Behaving Badly is an American reality comedy television show on the Oxygen cable channel, and is also syndicated to television stations across the United States and Canada by Sony Pictures Television....

, Just For Laughs Gags
Just For Laughs Gags
Just For Laughs Gags is a Canadian silent comedy/hidden camera reality television show that is under the Just For Laughs brand. On December 26, 2002, JFL Gags began airing on CTV and The Comedy Network in Canada...

, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment
The Jamie Kennedy Experiment
The Jamie Kennedy Experiment is a half-hour-long American hidden camera/practical joke reality television series that was broadcast on The WB...

, Boiling Points
Boiling Points
Boiling Points is a prank reality television show, much like the format used on Candid Camera. It is broadcast on MTV in the United States. In each half-hour episode, annoying situations are set up and deliberately inflicted on one or more young adults who are unaware that they are being tested...

, Trigger Happy TV
Trigger Happy TV
Trigger Happy TV was a hidden camera/practical joke reality television program. The original British edition of the show, produced by Absolutely Productions, starred Dom Joly and ran for two series on the British television channel Channel 4 from 2000 until 2002...

, and Howie Do It
Howie Do It
Howie Do It is a Canadian/American comedy television series, co-commissioned by Global and NBC, that stars Howie Mandel. The series features practical jokes in the vein of earlier shows like Just for Laughs, Punk'd or Candid Camera – the supposed twist being that the cameras are in the open,...

. And perhaps the most ambitious of all was The Joe Schmo Show
The Joe Schmo Show
The Joe Schmo Show is a reality television parody show which aired on the American cable network Spike TV from 2003–2004. The show's premise is that a target person or persons are led to believe that they are contestants on a reality television show; in reality, all of the other participants in the...

in which Matt Kennedy Gould
Matt Kennedy Gould
Matt Kennedy Gould is a former American television personality. He rose to prominence in 2003, when he was the main protagonist of The Joe Schmo Show, a fake reality show in which, unbeknownst to him, all the participants but Gould were actors portraying broad reality show participant...

 was surrounded by actors and hoaxed for the entire series.


In a suit against Peter Funt, Pax and the Mohave County
Mohave County, Arizona
Mohave County is located in the northwestern corner of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of the 2010 census, its population was 200,186, an increase of 45,154 people since the 2000 census count of 155,032. The county seat is Kingman...

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. 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.


  • 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

External links

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