KDAL Color Photos From The 1960s

Attic reader Tom Barstow was kind enough to send in four color photos from the 1960s, showing staff at KDAL-TV and KDAL-AM. The first is of longtime women’s show host Dottie Becker, apparently showing off a new transistor radio:

And here is  a photo of Dottie Becker (center), John Russell (left) and another KDAL staffer – do you know who? – at a KDAL-AM booth in a local store during the Christmas season. It looks like a department store – can anyone tell which one:

More on Dottie Becker later in this post.

Here’s a photo of KDAL newscaster Dick Anthony, whose evening newscast was sponsored by Standard Oil:

And finally, a photo of Bill Cortez and George Gothner:

KDAL-TV is now KDLH, Channel 3. If you have any information or stories about the people in these photos, please post a comment.

Now, a little more about Dottie Becker. She hosted “Dottie Becker’s Town and Country” on Duluth TV from 1956 to 1971. When she died in December 2002 at age 76, News Tribune columnist Jim Heffernan wrote a column recognizing her place in Twin Ports TV lore:


By Jim Heffernan, Duluth News Tribune

I used to be a real sloth. In my youth, I would go out of my way to arrange my life so I could sleep until noon. It helped that I’ve held very few jobs that required getting up ultra early. Journalism lends itself to this kind of slothery.

One of my favorite movie scenes comes — yes — in the classic Humphrey Bogart-Ingrid Bergman wartime melodrama “Casablanca.” No, it’s not the airport scene when the two must part and he persuades the reluctant Bergman to leave by saying she’d regret not going, “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life . . .” And it’s not “Play it again, Sam” (which isn’t actually put that way) nor is it, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

All great dialogue, but my favorite line is uttered by Inspector Renault, played by Claude Rains, who has this exchange with a couple of desperate refugees trying to escape Casablanca when they say they’ll be in his office early in the morning to pick up letters of transit: “We’ll be there at 6,” says the eager refugee. “I’ll be there at 10,” deadpans Inspector Renault.

Way to go, Claude. Man after my own heart.

All of which backs into my point here today. When I was in my 20s and just breaking into newspaper reporting here, I worked the 3-11 p.m. shift. It allowed me to sleep until noon, roll out of the sack, click on the TV and watch Dottie Becker on Channel 3 — then KDAL.

Yup. Hairy-chested newspaper man watches the queen of local broadcasting on her long-running noontime “women’s” show, “Town and Country.”

Last Sunday, I was given pause when I read in the obituary section that Dottie Becker had died in California, where she had been living in recent years. I’m sure a lot of other Northland folks old enough to remember her caught their breath, too, to read that this effervescent, charming, seemingly forever young woman was gone.

Why would I watch a show that held virtually no appeal for me? I don’t know. Because it was there? Occasionally Dottie had guests that were interesting to me. Longtime Channel 3 news anchor and program director Earl Henton would sometimes be her guest and talk about movies.

Then there were the endless sessions with a woman named Ingeborg — just Ingeborg — who had a corset shop in Duluth and would jabber with Dottie about the importance of a good foundation. Ingeborg spoke with a European accent, sounding something like Dr. Ruth.

Society dames flocked to her show to promote their various charities, often involving some country club ball to raise money but also provide them an excuse to buy a foundation from Ingeborg and a new gown at the old Silver’s, a women’s apparel shop so exclusive it didn’t advertise or even have a sign on its building.

I came to know Dottie Becker slightly years later, and I could never be around her without having the feeling that I was in the presence of great celebrity — like a movie star. With a bright smile and never at a loss for words, Dottie was a local institution.

She was also responsible for one of my most uncomfortable moments. She persuaded me to model a man’s suit in some fashion show she was narrating. I wasn’t cut out to be a model and the suit wasn’t cut out for me.

All this is ancient history to many, but Dottie Becker shouldn’t pass from the scene without special mention. Not in Duluth.


If you have interesting old Duluth or Northland photos to share, send them to akrueger(at)duluthnews.com.

40 Responses

  1. Adrienne Como Haugen

    Hunter Como, my father, was a creative character! He had a TV show called, “The Red Barn??” I was too little to remember the name of the show. But, Dad had his western outfit and handlebar mustache. I remember how he made sure it was nicely ‘set’ on his face! He also had his daily morning radio show, “I’ve Got Your Number.” His commercials were quite interesting, too!

  2. LovesongJ@AOL.com

    I, too, worked at KDAL RADIO AND TV. I walked in there out of the blue. There was no opening but within a month, I was called to work on the radio side first. What an adventure. I ended up with a broken finger when the lights went out while I was looking for props for my TV commercials and a friend closed an 8 inch thick door on it. It still hurts to play guitar
    I wore the first pants suit to work there. All the women came up to me and said, “You’re going to get fired.” Odin, one of the founders and by then the head man walked into my office and said, “I like your pants suit, Janet.”
    I had a fashion show, did all the commercials for the Magnolia Shoppe and recorded them for drive time, modeled on TV and wrote commercials for that side. One of the hightlights, though was from the first day I went there. Hunter was a friend of the family. He walked in and, as I had all his accounts, laughed and said, “Lie like Hell, kid.” On the TV side, I wrote Earl Henton’s St. Louis County Federal commercials. He used to call me “baby” and implored me to see if I could get my friend, Dottie Becker, to move back to Duluth as he and his wife missed her.
    Bill Kreuger trusted me to wheel him into the studio if I happened to be on coffee break. Inevitably, I’d hit the big door. I’d remark, “Bill, I don’t know why you trust me to do this,” and we’d both have a good laulgh

  3. I am Dottie Becker’s youngest son. I remember all of these names and faces from growing up around my mom and her profession. I remember Little Joe was a large man who rode a very large Harley Davidson Motorcycle. When I was perhaps 7 or 8 years old he came to our house and gave each of us a ride on his motorcycle.
    I have many more great childhood memories from the Town and Country show. I may even have had a transistor radio like the one pictured with my mon in this posting.

    1. Are there any tapes of the show? I was on your Mom’s show with a musical group called the Kettle River Ramblers. We were a kid country group. I still play music in Duluth in a band called Uncle Lucky.

      Tony Don Tracy

  4. Mary Cadigan Murdoch

    Oh, gosh! I, too, remember those halycon days. I worked for my brother, Pat Cadigan, at KDAL Radio. I would write his commercials. It was simply chaotic in the studio as Marsh would rush in with his sports copy and Eddie Williams would be pre-recording his morning cowboy show, John Russell would be playing romantic records, Pat would be reading commercials and making up half the words as he went along, and Gil Fawcett would be recalling tales of years past…all in one small space with everyone running around like Keystone Kops. No one would ever believe those days as we lived them. What fun! What memories! What small paychecks! Mary Cadigan Murdoch

  5. Jeff Missinne

    To Karin Swor: Mr. Toot was never on KDAL, but rather WDSM-TV on 3rd Ave. East & Superior St. KDAL did have some kid shows, like “Chief Charlie” (Chuck Lillegren in American Indian outfit, very politically incorrect now) and “Cousin Tom” (Olson I think…) They never could compete with Captain Q (Jack McKenna) or Bozo/Mr. Toot (Ray Paulsen) on Channel 6. Channel 3 ran “Krazy Kat” and other cartoons so old they barely made it into the “talkie” era. Still, it hurt when I learned years later that when KDAL moved from the Bradley Bldg. to the Broadcast Center, all those cartoons went in the trash rather than pay to move them to the new studios.

  6. Hunter Como, Pad Cadigan, Brent Turner, John Russell, Mitch Dupre, Little Joe, Dick Anthony, Bill Kreuger, Bill Cortes, Ron DeHart, Ian Pearson, Marsh Nelson, Eric Eskola, Ken Kalish, Greg O’Brien, Glen Truax, Gordy Paymar, Earl Henton, Bob Romanko, John LaForge, Dottie Becker.

  7. Carol Madden

    The photo of Mary Rygg Berger reminds me of the tea parties at her house. Her daughter Amy went to the Lincoln school in Superior and in the summer neighborhood/classmates would receive written invitations to delicate tea parties at the Berger home.

  8. John Ebeling

    Del Russel did an overnight show on KDAL radio from the Bradley Building in the mid 50’s. I got to know him, and last I heard, years ago, he moved to a western Mpls. suburb.

    1. Karin Swor

      We would go to the KDAL Lake Ave Building back in the late 50’s to watch my brother box for Pee Wee Boxing Also my kids were on the Mr Toot show also at the Lake Ave Bldg. a couple of times. The best place to have a birthday party.

  9. Jimmy Houle

    Many of the respondents will remember me, especially , Claudia Hampston, as she was knowen back then. Well, I’m still in Duluth, only in the Lonsdale Building. How fondly I remember KDALTV; the Kennedys’Jack,Jackie,Bobby, Rose, Edward, the presidential campaign 1959-60. While on Daltons cruiser,”Caprice”, Jack said to me, what a beautiful town you live in. Many more stories are locked in my mind:”Gone Fishing” theme that introduced Bob Graham at midnight, til 6 in the morn. Carl Casperson’s Serenade to a Sunday, and the Shell weather tower, following Henton’s news and Dahls Sports at 10. Too many stories to share for the time remaining……back to work.

  10. Claudia Daly

    With Dottie and John Russell Snee (later g.m. for MPR in northeastern Minnesota and Houghton, Michigan, is a woman named Mary. Her last name started with a B and she was associated with the big family-owned hardware store in Superior. She often appeared on Dottie’s show, which had lots of infomercials before that term was in vogue.

    Remember Ingeborg and the big mama mannikins?

    Yes, the guy behind the camera was George Gothner, later owner of Virginia’s Chochoo Bar and at least one other drinking establishment in that city. With his was sports guy Bill Cortez.

    What a time we all had at KDAL-TV!

  11. Barb Aakeberg Tommasino

    I remember a kids show with a cowboy (don’t remember his name). He had a contest to name the “Ranch”. The winner was “The Idle Bridle”.

  12. The Big K

    I too worked at 3 – was hired by Bruce Nimmo what I remember most is you needed a key to get into the building yet that Italian guy “Prince” was often in Marsh Nelson’s office as Marsh typed away preparing for his sportscast I still have a pencil sharpener Prince gave to me. I looked forward to going to work for the 6 & 10 newscasts – where did all the archived film/video end up?

  13. Wow. Do those photos bring back memories!? I’d forgotten all about Dottie. Nice lady — actually nearly everybody that worked at KDAL (radio and TV) in those days were great people. John Russel was John’s radio name. I don’t remember the actual spelling of his last name — Schnee ?? He was frequently sponsored by Arco Coffee.

    The photo of Bill Cortez and cameraman George Gothner was from the old studios at Lake Avenue and Superior Street. George became a director in the new studios. That is one of the old RCA black-and-white cameras that George is operating. It had turret lenses that you manually changed and focused. The day we opened the studios at 5th Ave. West and Superior Street we started with new two new GE Color Cameras. I think we were the first studio in Minnesota to have color cameras with zoom lenses. That would have been around 1967. Because of those cameras, and two new color video tape machines, we got to do ads for the 1968 presidential campaign. Hubert Humphrey was regularly in the studio.

    Bob Dettman, the founder of KDAL radio, was still president/chief engineer, but, he died from a heart attack on an airplane before we were fully moved into the new studios. He designed most of the new studios, including using heat from the equipment to mix with outside air to heat and cool the new studios — quite revolutionary in the mid-1960s. Rudy Luukinen, who was key in establishing Armed Forces Radio during WW-II in the Pacific, was the assistant chief, and he became chief when Bob died.

    And Dick Anthony — another just incredibly nice person.

    I was very fortunate to spend my late teens and early 20s working there. What a great place.

    1. Bill Conner

      Love this stuff; I worked the TV booth on weekends when I started at UMD in 1964 and also worked four years off and on for KDAL radio. One question: thought Dalton A. LeMasurie was the founder-his initials the DAL in KDAL. Anyone remember what the story was? My dad worked in the 40’s for WEBC with Earl Henton-still have pics of them together as young and old men and my mom worked as staff organist for KDAL at the same time. Great memories.

      1. Claudia Daly

        Hi Bill,
        I remember when you worked at Ch. 3 in the old Bradley Building location.

        Dalton LeMasurier, Odin Ramsland, and Robert Dettman founded KDAL in North Dakota in the thirties (if I recall correctly). Moved the call letters and radio station to Duluth pretty early on and then applied for and got a construction permit for KDAL-TV. The television station went on the air as an NBC affiliate in 1954 and changed over to CBS (to align it with the longtime network affiliation of the the radio operation) in 1955 or 1956. The LeMasurier, Ramsland, Dettman leadership held in place until Dalton’s tragic death in a small plane crash on a western US mountain top. The other two partners carried on. In the early 60s, they sold the station to WGN.

      2. steve collins

        happen to come across this by chance , don’t know if you ever got you answer to the question. Yes Dalton Alexander LeMasurier was the founder od KDAL. When they moved to Duluth from Grand Forks to start up KDAL. Not sure what year it was for sure , but it was the first Duluth t.v. station.in the late 50’s Dalton had died in a plane crash coming home from visiting his mother, father and son Ron in California with his wife Dorothy. They crashed in a remote mountain area in Montana , He survived for 10 days before passing away. She lived 9 days beyond that and was rescued. Dorothy sold KDAL soon after. Dalton and Dorothy were my grand parent , although I wasn’t born when all this happened I did get to spend a lot of time with my Grand Mother.

  14. Dan

    All I remember about Dottie Becker is that she was in a coloring book of KDAL personalities. Yes, a coloring book. Why KDAL produced a coloring book is beyond me, but I remember figuring out at a young age that staying inside the lines was never going to be a strong point of mine.

  15. Gus Pearson

    I worked at KDAL with the Three Yanks. I started the band in the late forties and was on KDAL TV from March 1954 to 1957.Dottie became a good friend and every once in a while she would have me on her show and I would end up playing the piano and she would sing. The producer
    was not happy but we would sneak it in.She was from San Francisco and kept telling me you have to live in CA. to make any money. I followed her advice and in a short time I was working on The Ernie Ford show on ABC.
    Gus Pearson Auburn Ca.

    1. Marlene Corey

      As another transplant from Duluth I am really enjoying the old memories and photographs of my home town. It truely is a step back in time.

  16. Finley Stalvig

    The lady with Dottie Becker and John Russell at Goldfines-By-The-Bridge is Mary Rygg Berger, who later became Mary Steinman. Mary worked for the Goldfines for many years.

  17. Andrew

    Reader Rod Hafner also said the store is Goldfine’s, noting the distinctive poured concrete ceiling visible above the KDAL booth.

  18. Jim Saranpaa

    Photo was shot at Goldfine’s By-The-Bridge (Of Course). All that’s missing from this expose is Gordy Paymar and Marsh Nelson. The Big K…aw those were the days. Hunter Como anchored the morning show on 610, but here’s a brain teaser for readers. Who broadcast the overnight program “Vacationland Calling”? (Hint. He drove a stock car at the Proctor Speedway)

      1. Karin Swor

        I am sure it is.—How about Hellow Everybody good morning it’s time to rise and shine again. Opening son on radio?

        1. Brad Day

          …Come on you sleepyhead
          Come on! Get out of bed!
          Because it’s wake up time

          That would be the inimitable Eddie Williams; was often sponsored by Poplar Hardware

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