Born October 8, 1923 - Died December 20, 2002
Dorothea M. Fitzgerald worked on "Art Linkletter's House Party," from 1950-1970. She was his "Teacher for the Day" to an estimated 20,000 school-age children who appeared on that television show.
For five years prior to joining the Linkletter production she was a mentor-teacher for the LA Unified School District. She was told of the job with Linkletter from a friend, right when the show started, so she went to interview. She said she was happy being a teacher and she didn't expect to get the job, but everything just seemed to "click." Art hired her and she stayed with the show during its entire run, more than 20 years.
And Dorothea loved every minute of it. Friends say she had "so many stories of wonderful things, you could sit with her for hours and just be enthralled!"
Along the way, she received her Master's from Pepperdine University in 1968. In 19___ she was listed in Who's Who in California. She also served as President of the Junior League for Crippled Children, at Orthopedic Hospital, Los Angeles.
After the show finished, Dorothea resumed her teaching career. She loved teaching and took great pride in her role and asked for teaching assignments in areas throughout the district where she felt education was lacking and where she could make a difference. In South-Central Los Angeles, her peers say she accomplished great things for over 20 years, started a mentor program, and gave her time and life to helping dis-privileged kids.
In 1990, Dorothea retired to Playa del Rey, California, a Los Angeles beach community.
She never had any children of her own, and so she took a keen personal interest in the "children" she had, first the Linkletter kids, then her own grade school students, and lastly she became "Mother #2" and "Grandmother #2" to her sister's seven children and to her five grand-nieces and nephews. Her home was filled with photographs throughout the walls, halls, and tables of her adoring family, whom she never ceased to talk about.
Dorothea also was an avid bridge player and every Wednesday she and her friends could always be found playing around the table in her home, sipping their Perriers.
Art's Note 12/2/02
In 2002, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Although she continued to keep in touch with Art to the end, he was unaware of her condition (see his note at left). She died at age 79 on December 20, 2002, quickly and peacefully, from respiratory failure. But she died with the joy of knowing her life meant something to so many others.
According to friends, at the end she was "happy and courageous", and faced each day with a positive and beautiful smile. She was happy to know that the kids from the television show still remember her and that she made some very small impact in their memories, at a time that was memorable. And she wouldn't and couldn't have asked for more.