|Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Mary Ellen Colchagoff was an art student who got her start in television by being in the right place at the right time. One day in 1951, Mary Ellen was shopping when the manufacturer of Yogurta face cream happened to be in the store. He asked Mary Ellen if she knew anything about the product. Mary Ellen was not only knowledgeable but effusive! The Yogurta owner was very impressed and called her several days later...would she do a TV commercial?|
The commercial was to be live as part of a local variety show. TV and Mary Ellen clicked, and her commercial was an instant hit. "I discovered what a ham I was," she said, "and I haven't been able to stay away from TV since." Mary Ellen found a regular spot on the show, and in addition to commercials, used her talents as an artist to create 'instant artwork' during songs and dance numbers. "I drew pictures to records that they would play," recalls Mary Ellen. "I would draw the picture of what the song meant to me. All I did was use a regular black marker and a big drawing tablet, like I did later on my show in Florida."
When a Toledo station, WSPD, suggested that she host a children's program, Mary Ellen worked out the format, including the 'Funny Face.' Mary Ellen consulted "Mary Worth" artist Allan Saunders on developing a more cartoon style to her drawings.
The set of Mary Ellen's first show "Fun
Farm" and a photo taken off a studio monitor
Her first show was called 'Fun Farm,' and ran for three years on WSPD in Toledo and another two years on WEWS, Cleveland. Mary Ellen recalled that "We had kids on the show, and a mounted policeman came in from time to time and sing. The kids always enjoyed that horse in the studio. I also worked string puppets...a boy and a girl. I would play a record and they would 'sing' to it."
Mary Ellen in "Fun Farm" publicity photo
Somehow, a busy Mary Ellen found time to fall in love and get married. Over the next few years, Mary Ellen and her husband Clyde became parents to Gail, Mark, and Robin. Talk about having it all!
"Take Your Daughter to Work" day at WEWS.
Robin and Mary Ellen on the set of Fun Farm