Sally Starr (January 25, 1923 – January 27, 2013) was a prominent 1950s and 1960s celebrity television personality. Using a cowgirl persona, she appealed to local TV audiences of several generations of children through American radio, Broadway stage, movies and as a recording artist for more than sixty years. Fans remained loyal in the Philadelphia metropolitan area (referred to locally as the Delaware Valley), and embraced her cowgirl personality as part of their own family identity, and sometimes referred to her as "Aunt Sally" or "Our Gal Sal."
Starr was born as Alleen Mae Beller in Kansas City, Missouri, and legally changed her name to Starr in 1941. She was the second oldest of five girls. Her parents, Charles and Bertha Beller, encouraged her to enter the world of show business, for which she exhibited both talent and ambition. At the age of twelve, she and her sister Mildred, who were billed as the "Little Missouri Maids," made their debut on the CBS radio program "Brush Creek Follies".
|Sally with Jesse Rogers|
Starr sang and performed country music throughout her young adult life. By the end of the 1940s, she became the regional voice of the Pepsi-Cola Company and did all their commercial spots, leading to a full-time gig in radio. During the 1940s Starr married Jesse Rogers and the two performed on radio programs such as Hayloft Hoe-Down, which was produced in the old Town Hall in Center City. Sally also formed the band, "The Saddle Buddies," which performed in various clubs in the area.
Having already mastered radio and the stage, Starr’s next stop was television. On Oct. 3, 1955, Starr became the hostess of Popeye Theater, on WFIL-TV (now WPVI) which eventually became Philadelphia’s highest-rated children’s program. During the show, Starr presented half-hour western TV shows, cartoons, Three Stooges comedies, live acts and special features. She distinguished her character by donning flashy cowgirl regalia, including a cowgirl hat, boots, and gun with holster, often dressing in bright red blouses adorned with fringes and shiny stars.
Her opening line was, "Hope you feel as good as you look, 'cause you sure look good to your gal Sal." She closed with "May the Good Lord be blessing you and your family. Bye for now!" The theme song of the show was a variation on the theme from Wagon Train by Jerome Moross. Sally also had a country music radio program on Philly’s WJMJ. Public appearances were a staple part of her entertainment promotions. Many of these events also featured her horses "Pal", "Silver", "Cane", and "Rusty".
Aside from her television and recording career, Starr appeared in the 1965 Three Stooges feature film, The Outlaws Is Coming, as sharpshooter Belle Starr. She had small roles in such films as The In Crowd and Mannequin Two: On the Move. Aa vocalist, she recorded Our Gal Sal, backed by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1958, selling thousands of records under the Clymax label. Haley also co-wrote "A.B.C. Rock" and "Rocky the Rockin' Rabbit" for Starr, which were released as singles (the former would later be covered by Haley himself; the latter was released in 1959 as a standalone single unconnected with the album).
Although Our Gal Sal was out of print by the 1960s, in the 1970s and 1980s several of these recordings reappeared on a series of compilation albums put out by the UK-based Rollercoaster Records label entitled Rockaphilly. The first top-rated female disc jockey in the country, she also worked as an announcer, writer and producer while also appearing on stage and in movies. In her later years, Starr operated a pizza/ice cream restaurant in Atco, New Jersey. She was so loved by her fan base that they even helped her financially after her home in Florida was destroyed in a fire in 1987.
On New Year's Eve in 1992, Starr suffered a severe heart attack. Following medical treatment, she completed her recuperation during early 1993 while residing at the home of her sister, Mary Boyd. Hundreds of her fans reportedly sent get well cards, artwork, and gifts. Starr wrote an autobiography, Me, Thee & TV, which was published in 1994. Starr was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in 1995. She continued to make public appearances near her home in Waterford Township in southern New Jersey in her senior years.
She also hosted a radio show on WVLT, 92.1 FM in Vineland, New Jersey until retiring in September 2006. Starr died at a Berlin, New Jersey nursing home on January 27, 2013, two days after her 90th birthday, from undisclosed causes.
(Edited from Wikipedia & NBC Philadelphia)