Video Vault: Dorothy Fuldheim's 83rd birthday WEWS-TV special

Lengendary TV journalist's 1976 TV special

CLEVELAND - For most of us, a birthday means a few cards, some presents and blowing out the candles on a cake. But when you're the grand dame of Cleveland TV and a true legend, your birthday includes your own TV special.

Dorothy Fuldheim was born June 26, 1893, 120 years ago.

Our video player contains the 30-minute WEWS special aired in June, 1976 celebrating Dorothy Fuldheim's 83rd birthday.

Hosted by Fred Griffith, there is rare footage of her at home, her ride to work, in her office at the station and in the studio. The special was taped inside Dorothy's Shaker Heights apartment.

Where do I begin detailing the fun tidbits in Dorothy's life revealed in this special?

She and her daughter relaxed at the end of the day by smoking cigars.

Before TV, she did commentaries on radio, which were so popular 1,800 people attended a lecture she offered.

She was approached to run for political office, including the Senate.

"I don't think I could take the kind of things men who run for office take," she gives for one of her reasons for not running.

She begged the station to get her a comfortable chair to use on the news set. After years of asking, she got it only to have Joel Rose keep stealing it from her.

WEWS-TV executives found a sponsor but didn't invite Dorothy to any of the meetings. They had a show in mind, but Dorothy said, "Fine, but that's not what I do."

Her commentaries were sponsored by Duquesne Beer. The beer company didn't much care what Dorothy did, they bought the time and relented on the shows format.

"Let her do whatever she wants, we're not going to keep her anyway, we just bought it to have the time," She recalls being told.

How wrong they were, she was a pioneer whose television career lasted nearly 40 years.

Some of the famous persons she interviewed are shown; Omar Sharif, Helen Keller, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Dr. Benjamin Spock. She discusses the influence of television and touches on talking to Hitler in Germany.

The show closes in the studio in front of a birthday cake as staff members honor her with a champagne toasty.

All in all, the special whizzes by, I could have listened to so much more of Dorothy and Fred talk.

The station did manage to top her 83rd birthday half-hour special.

Her 90th birthday bash was held at Blossom Music Center and featured the Cleveland Orchestra playing "Happy Birthday" for her, click here to see that story.

Happy birthday Dorothy.

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