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 isÂ 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:
Here’s a photo of KDAL newscaster Dick Anthony, whose evening newscast was sponsored by Standard Oil:
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:
DOTTIE DID DULUTH PROUD
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.