Candid Camera is a long-running television series,
created and produced by Allen Funt, which initially appeared on radio as Candid
Microphone in the 1940s, then screened in the United States in the
1950s,with local versions produced around the world.
The show involved scenarios in which unwitting members of the public
would be placed in a situation where unusual things began happening
(caused by actors hired by the producers as well as various props, some
ingenious). The victim of the prank's reactions would be filmed by a
concealed camera, and at some stage the joke is finally revealed to them.
Writer Woody Allen got his start writing for the show in the 1960s and
performed in some scenarios; so did Buster Keaton and Muhammad Ali.
The show was very much a precursor to the late 1990s explosion of
so-called reality television, in that its humor was based around putting
"real people" in unreal situations. In the sixties and seventies
Candid Camera produced over ten tapes of adult-oriented (but not
pornographic) stunts and hidden camera gags called Candid Candid Camera.
(For example, a man is hired as a hypnotist's assistant and then a
beautiful new lady patient disrobes while hypnotized.)
The show often played its hidden camera pranks on celebrities as well.
One memorable episode had actress Ann Jillian (who is Lebanese) scheduled
to make a small donation to a Lebanese charity. Just beforeshe is
confronted by police officers who inform her that the man running this
charity is in fact a well known swindler and con artist. They convince her
to donate a MUCH larger amount with the assurance that as soon as he
accepts the check they will come in and arrest him. However, when she does
so, the cops are nowhere to be found and she is forced into acting like
she had intended to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars all along.
Another popular stunt is to appear to eat a goldfish in a public crowd.
The "goldfish" would actually be a slice of carrot.
Innumerable other such shows by different titles and with slightly
different variations have been produced. Some, such as MTV's Ashton
Kutcher vehicle Punk'd, have concentrated on playing pranks on
celebrities, others have concentrated on the inventiveness of the pranks,
while others have steadily become crueler to their "victims"—for
instance, a British variant, Beadle's About.
Candid Camera is currently running on the PAX Network and is
hosted by Allen Funt's son, Peter Funt and Dina Eastwood, Clint Eastwood's