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Sally Starr Wednesday, March 20, 2002 at the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia luncheon
Sally is heard on Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT every Saturday from 5pm to 6pm!
Sally Starr has been a prominent personality on the Philadelphia area television, radio and stage for over fifty years. She is, what can be described as a total performer, having been not only a pioneer in TV, but also the first top-rated female DJ in the country, working as announcer, writer and producer.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri on January 25, 1923, Sally is the second oldest of five girls. Her parents, Charles and Bertha Beller (she changed her name legally to Sally Starr in 1941) encouraged her to enter the world of show business for which she exhibited both talent and ambition. She and her sister Mildred, billed as the "Little Missouri Maids," made their first debut on a CBS radio program titled "Blush Creek Follies" - she was only twelve years old!
Sally Starr has had a flair for country music all her life. She continued singing and performing for live audiences throughout her young adult life. By the end of the 1940's, Sally had the opportunity to bring her unique talent to the broadcast medium. She served as the regional voice of the Pepsi-Cola Company, doing all their commercial spots and eventually landed in full-time radio.
The 1940's saw her marriage to Jesse Rogers and together they began performing on radio programs such as "Hayloft Hoe-Down" which emanated from the old Town Hall in Center City Philadelphia. Sally also organized her own band, "The Saddle Buddies," and performed at all of the top local clubs, including "The Santa Fe Ranch" and "The Sleepy Hollow Ranch."
About 1950, Sally Starr entered the "infant" medium of television as hostess of what would eventually become Philadelphia's highest rated children's program: "Popeye Theater." Sally's pioneering format consisted of her presenting cartoons, Three Stooges comedies, live acts and special features. During this same period, Sally also had a country music radio program over Philly's WJMJ. She was the recipient of many prestigious awards from Nashville.
Many of the top entertainers of the day visited Sally on her daily TV show, which was broadcast LIVE from Channel 6. They included Chief Halftown, Roy Rogers and Dale Evens, Chuck Connors (The Rifleman), Dick Clark, Jerry Lewis, Tim Conway, Jimmy Durante, Nick Adams, Gene Autry and of course, her long time friends, The Three Stooges. Many distinguished advertisers were eager to sponsor Sally's program. It was Sally who opened the first Dunkin' Donuts franchise in the Philadelphia area. She also introduced her viewers to Kentucky Fried Chicken and Hires Root Beer to name a few. Even Colonel Sanders himself was a frequent TV guest of Sally's, and made numerous appearances particularly during the Christmas season.
In 1965, Sally Starr turned actress when she had a feature role as Belle Starr in "The Outlaws Is Coming" with the Three Stooges. It was the last feature film to be made by the Stooges at Columbia Pictures in Hollywood. Sally has also had major roles in such movies as "The In Crowd," "Mannequin on the Move" and "Holiday Journey." Sally was also a recording artist, having performed with the legendary Bill Haley and the Comets. She sold thousands of records under the Clymax label, which was one of Haley's local companies.
As an author, children were fond of reading Sally's stories which were published at the time her program was at the peak of its popularity in the early 1960's.
Entertainment aside, Sally was instrumental in many notable charities, helping thousands of handicapped children and other unfortunates throughout the run of her television program.
To the remorse of countless, loyal TV fans, Sally lost her program on channel 6 (WPVI-TV) in 1971. Delaware Valley viewers responded accordingly with the largest mail protest in the station's history!
Since leaving channel 6, Sally Starr has produced and hosted local TV shows on Channel 29 and 65. When a fire destroyed her home in Florida in the Spring of 1987, many of her loyal baby-boomer fans came to her financial rescue. They were happy to assist Sally who lost most of her worldly possessions including her unfinished autobiography. This affection is typical of the love Sally has inspired among her fans of many ages. Today, Sally looks forward to the future with a healthy enthusiasm. She is continuing her personal appearances aggressively throughout the Tri-State area.
Sally Starr, "Our Gal Sal" as she is known to many millions, will also be the subject of an upcoming documentary. She is also planning to produce two TV pilots for potential cable syndication broadcast.
She recently completed a book which has already sold thousands of copies entitled: "Me, Thee & TV" an autobiographical journey through her personal and professional life. Sally also recently appeared in the stage hit: "Annie Get Your Gun" at the Three Little Bakers Theatre. She played an "older" Annie with creative flashbacks. A role that was written especially for Sally in this popular stage production.
Sally was the host of a three hour radio show on, Cruisin' 92.1, WVLT 92.1 in Vineland, New Jersey. The show aired every Sunday from Noon to 3 pm for many years. Sally retired in September of 2006.
Sally has been instrumental in the resurrection of the "Wilson Line Show Cruises" and looks forward to many more years with her fans. She is a survivor - having had a heart attack in 1993, she turned 82 years young in January of 2005. This feisty lady isn't ready to hang up her boots and her fans won't let her! To this day, she does an average of two appearances per week! As Sally says, "That keeps the Adrenaline flowing."
She recently purchased a home in Atco, New Jersey where she resides with Molly, a toy poodle and a fat cat named "Misty." She drives herself to all her personal appearances in her recognizable, beautiful red van. She is full of life and ready to face the world, head-on! Visit her website at http://www.sallystarr.net
Sally Starr has received many honors including being inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia's Hall of Fame in 1995.