Lakewood resident portrays TV star at local library

Sara Huebner

Actress Carol Starre-Kmiecik performed a one-woman show as Dorothy Fuldheim, the first woman television reporter, as part of Women’s History Month at the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library yesterday. MEGHAN GAURILOFF | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

A Cleveland news legend came back from the dead last night for a performance at the Stow-Munroe Falls Library.

Well, sort of.

Lakewood resident Carol Starre-Kmiecik performed a one-woman show as Dorothy Fuldheim, who is known as the first lady of television.

Fuldheim was born in Passaic, N.J., to German parents and grew up in Milwaukee. After graduating college, she was cast as Shakespeare’s Juliet in a theater group, Starre-Kmiecik said as she portrayed Fuldheim.

Fuldheim said she was met backstage after a performance by a Chicago social worker who liked her voice and asked her to be a part of the lecture circuit to talk about social issues.

After her stint on the lecture circuit, Fuldheim was approached by a Scripps Howard representative and asked to take up journalism.

“I had never been a journalist, but I said, ‘Of course, I can do anything’,” she said.

In 1947, Scripps Howard opened WEWS Channel 5 in Cleveland. Because it was the first television station in Ohio, no one knew how to deliver the news, Fuldheim said.

“So they asked me,” she said. “And I told them that the anchor should sit behind a desk with a script in front of them through the entire broadcast. And they follow that format to this day.”

Perhaps it was her sense of confidence and way with words that made her a name at Channel 5.

“I was to read the news for 13 weeks, and then I was to be replaced by a man,” she said. “I ended up staying for 37 years.”

Fuldheim, who interviewed every American president during her career, covered a wide variety of issues and events during her career as a journalist. Starre-Kmiecik told of Fuldheim’s reaction to the shootings at Kent State in 1970.

“What is wrong with our country?” she said on the air. “We’re killing our own children.”

Marjorie Nicholson, Silver Lake Village resident, was at the event “because I remember Dorothy so well,” she said.

Fuldheim died in 1989 at the age of 96. She worked for Channel 5 up until 1984 when she suffered an on-air stroke that left her crippled.

Starre-Kmiecik performs locally as different historical women but her specialty is Fuldheim, whom she has portrayed more than 1,000 times. She started the performance for the 1996 Cleveland Bicentennial, she said.

Contact libraries and information reporter Sara Huebner at [email protected].