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Mary Hartline, who served as the host and bandleader of the 1949-55 kids TV show Super Circus, died Wednesday in her hometown of Hillsboro, Illinois, a family spokesperson said. She was 92.
At the height of her popularity, Hartline appeared on Kellogg’s cereal boxes and on the cover of TV Guide, was the face of Canada Dry ginger ale and modeled for a line of Mary Hartline dolls. She also recorded for Mercury Records.
Super Circus began on ABC in January 1949 from the Civic Theater in Chicago. The Sunday program would typically open with Hartline, wearing a red dress with a white sequined heart across the front, leading the band with a twirling baton. During Super Circus’ run, she also hosted The Mary Hartline Show for two years.
In 1957-58, she fronted another ABC kids show, Princess Mary’s Castle.
Born on Oct. 29, 1927, Hartline graduated from Hillsboro High School, where she was a trumpet player in the band and a cheerleader. She spent a year in Chicago modeling, which landed her on the cover of Lookmagazine, took trumpet and voice lessons and attended Northwestern University.
She began her show business career on a Saturday morning ABC Radio variety program called Junior Junction, also known as Teen Town, about a town run by youngsters in which she led a band.
She was married to Woolworth department store heir Woolworth Donahue, her fourth husband, from December 1964 until his death in April 1972. Survivors include her nieces, Jan, Kim and Ann.
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