Sally Starr Rises Again To Give Aid To Children

Posted: October 27, 1988

Sally Starr is making a comeback from the fire that engulfed her Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home in May 1987.

"Out of the ashes has come a very good life," said Starr, 65, well-known for her years as a children's TV hostess.

She said she had a new children's video coming out next year. On WHYY-TV (Channel 12), she will do three-minute interviews on careers in spots aimed at children. And she's trying to open a ranch to house abused children.

"It's a shame to say it," she said, "but the ashes were a firm foundation that I'm building on now."

Starr made the comments during an interview at a fall bazaar Friday at the Mayfair Shopping Center, Frankford and Cottman Avenues. Nearly 1,000 fans showed up to talk to "Our Gal Sal" and to get autographs.

Popeye Theater, which Starr hosted on Channel 6 from 1950 to 1972, was one of the longest-running children's programs in the Delaware Valley. After Popeye Theater was canceled, she hosted The Sally Starr Show on Channel 29. It lasted close to a year, she said.

Starr later moved to Florida, and then three years ago returned to the Philadelphia area to present Sally Starr's Western Theater on the now-defunct Channel 65. When that show ended, she returned to Florida.

Now, she makes appearances at public events, meeting the children she awed on television over the years.

"I have been criticized for playing a cowgirl at my age," said Starr.

In fact, she said, "I am a cowgirl, and this (cowgirl image) is what I am to the children that are adults today."

One of those children-turned-adults is Joseph Kouzynsky, who stopped by Friday. "I was one of the kids who would miss my school bus many times watching Sally's 8:30 a.m. TV show," said Kouzynsky, 32, a security guard at the shopping center.

"My husband remembers every minute detail concerning your show," fan Pat Wiseman told Starr. Her husband, Joseph, noted that they had brought along their son, Joseph, 10, and daughter, Trisha, 12, to meet the legendary Starr.

Said Starr, "I am thankful that people still want to see me."

Her fans will get a chance to see her on television again, in more of a public-service role. WHYY-TV producer Glenn Holston said that Starr would be seen on spots interviewing such people as a street artist, a veterinarian and a policewoman. Judge Lisa A. Richette also is on one of the spots, Holston said.

He said no date had been set for airing the interviews.

Starr said that the fire at her Florida home last year was devastating, but that she had been able to overcome it with the help of fans and friends, who lent financial and moral support.

"I have a multitude of friends," she said. "Everybody should be so fortunate."

She said that she lost many treasures in the fire: her first cowgirl costume, a Sally Starr doll, an autobiography - Me, Thee & TV - that had taken 14 years to complete.

"I had just completed a 500-plus-page autobiography, and it was completely destroyed," she said. As she pondered the impact of the loss, her voice became almost inaudible.

"All of my memorabilia, costumes . . . everything . . . destroyed . . . burned."

Starr said she had not attempted to rewrite the autobiography. "I have had a lot of offers from writers who would like to help me get a new book together," she said.

Starr's new children's video, Sally Starr's Stories, will feature three animated children's tales dealing with education, morals and ethics. One tale is about aquatic creatures, another is taken from the original Sherlock Holmes story, and the third is about a birthday party.

Starr said she was negotiating with the owners of a site in Pemberton, Burlington County, for a home for abused children to be called Sally Starr's Bar None Ranch. She also is seeking a license for the home, she said.

"I think in life we all have to give back something," she said. "If I only get one child out of this whole shebang, I feel like I will have accomplished something.

"This is what the rest of my career will be dedicated to."

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