CLEVELAND - If the legendary Dorothy Fuldheim were still with us, the Grand Dame of Cleveland television would be celebrating her 121st birthday today.
Born June 26, 1893, the First Lady of Television was an institution here at WEWS. She's still with us in spirit, perhaps in more than the metaphorical way too .
She began her career in television at WEWS in 1947 at age 54 but her career as a journalist began before television. As a print journalist, she interviewed Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.
Her television interviews ran the gamut from presidents and sports stars to such important figures as Helen Keller and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She kicked activist Jerry Rubin off her show .
Her importance in Cleveland and to this television station was immeasurable.
A birthday celebration for a legend can be no small event, so what to do, what to do? How about holding it at Blossom Music Center and having the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her?
Her birthday party was held on June 25, 1983, the eve of her 90th birthday at Blossom Music Center. U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum was among the dignitaries there to pay her homage. The man conducting the orchestra for the event was a big name too, Mitch Miller.
The video in our player begins with Dorothy on stage as the orchestra begins the birthday song. It’s so nice, they sing it again.
She is given roses by then-general manager Ed Cervenak and sportscaster Gib Shanley.
I’ve added our 6 p.m. newscast before the party next in the player. Bill Jacocks anchors from the studio and WEWS main anchor, Jeff Maynor, field anchors from Blossom.
Near the end of the newscast segment, Maynor interviews Dorothy and asks her what her wish is on her 90th birthday. The fiery redhead doesn’t miss a beat in her reply, “A 95th birthday!”
Dorothy was an amazing woman who worked here at WEWS until the age of 91. She suffered a stroke shortly after conducting an interview with President Ronald Reagan in July 1984
Dorothy Fuldheim passed away Nov. 3, 1989.
Happy Birthday, Dorothy.