Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Philly-area TV, radio icon Sally Starr dies
BERLIN, N.J. (AP) -- Legendary Philadelphia-area TV and radio host Sally Starr has died at a nursing home in New Jersey.
WPVI-TV, where Starr had worked, said Starr died Sunday, just days after celebrating her 90th birthday. Starr, whose real name was Sally E. Gray, had been in failing health. Affectionately known as "Our Gal Sal," Starr began her decades-long career as a disc jockey in 1948.
She became host of "Popeye Theater" two years later on the former WFIL-TV, now WPVI. On the two-hour weekday program, Starr introduced cartoons and celebrity guests to a generation of young people. She was recognized for her trademark spangled, fringed cowgirl costume. The program was canceled in 1972.
Starr later earned a living from personal appearances and selling airtime on her WVLT radio program "High Noon."
In 1998, Starr filed for bankruptcy protection, saying she was "church-mouse poor." She blamed her financial troubles on alleged comments made by a Trenton radio talk show host on the air. She sued WKXW-FM in New Jersey saying that host Jeff Diminski slandered her when he allegedly twice called her a "lesbian cowgirl."
"I've lost thousands and thousands of dollars because of the idiotic statement made," Starr told The Associated Press at the time, adding that her personal appearance bookings had dropped off from as many as six per week to about two since the alleged remark.