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Merri Dee

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Information about Merri Dee

Profile image of Merri Dee

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Television Personality

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Pink
Favorite Food:
Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Home
Favorite Quote:
If it is to be, it is up to me.

Birthplace

Born:
10/30/1936
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Television Personality

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Pink
Favorite Food:
Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Home
Favorite Quote:
If it is to be, it is up to me.

Birthplace

Born:
10/30/1936
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Merri Dee is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Merri Dee was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 30, 1934. Dee was raised in Chicago and New Orleans, Louisiana, where she developed a passion for journalism during school. She began her long relationship with broadcast media in 1966 as a radio personality. Based upon the strength of her reputation, Dee moved to WGN-TV in 1972, where she gained experience in newscasting as a staff announcer and talk show host.

At the height of her very promising career, Dee was confronted with a personal tragedy when she and a talk show guest were kidnapped from the television station and nearly killed by the attackers. Not one to remain a victim, however, Dee looks upon that incident – which changed the course of her career and life – as a challenge to grow. Lobbying state and city politicians, Dee assisted in the passage of Illinois' first Victims Bill of Rights law, legislation that has served as a model for other states.

Following the tragic event, Dee became more involved in the administrative aspect of television production and was appointed director of community relations at WGN-TV. In this capacity, Dee served as liaison between WGN-TV and the many social organizations that compose Chicago's civic community. She received direct feedback from the audience and ensured that the station served the needs of Chicago's diverse populations. Dee also oversaw WGN's public service campaigns. Dee retired as WGN-TV’s director of community relations in the fall of 2008.

Dee is also committed to extensive charitable work, including fundraising on behalf of the homeless and the victims of domestic violence. Her most passionate endeavor, however, is on behalf of Illinois orphans. Dee has garnered an exceptional amount of attention for the issue of orphans through telethons and fundraisers. Through her efforts, she has sought to increase the number of children who get adopted each year. In 1998, Illinois Governor Jim Edgar commended Dee and WGN for increasing the number of adoptions in the state by more than 50 percent. Also a strong advocate for education, Dee has hosted the United Negro College Fund Telethon for several years. She has also hosted the prestigious Easter Seals Telethon. She is one of the founders of a Chicago-based organization called Athletes for a Better Education.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the AT&T Outstanding Community Role Model award, the North American Council on Adoptable Children Outstanding Leadership Award, the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago Woman of the Year Award, and the Chicago Academy of TV Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Merri Dee interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Merri Dee discusses her name
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Merri Dee's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Merri Dee describes her family members
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Merri Dee remembers her early life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Merri Dee describes returning to New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Merri Dee discusses Creole culture in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Merri Dee remembers lessons from her family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Merri Dee describes the nunnery where she attended school
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Merri Dee recalls leaving school at the age of fourteen
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Merri Dee describes life on her own at age fourteen
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Merri Dee remembers her childhood home, Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Merri Dee remembers an influential mentor from her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Merri Dee describes life with her stepmother, part 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Merri Dee describes life with her stepmother, part 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Merri Dee remembers her high school experience
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Merri Dee remembers her grandfather
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Merri Dee discusses her Catholic upbringing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Merri Dee describes an early job at a supermarket
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Merri Dee describes an encounter with employment discrimination
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Merri Dee describes her experience working at a law firm
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Merri Dee recalls her stepmother's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Merri Dee discusses her employment with IBM
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Merri Dee remembers her mother-in-law
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Merri Dee describes her career aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Merri Dee details the end of her marriage, part 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Merri Dee details the end of her marriage, part 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Merri Dee decides to change her career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Merri Dee considers the merits of hard work
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Merri Dee discusses her radio broadcast career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Merri Dee discusses her career in television
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Merri Dee recalls her kidnapping and near murder
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Merri Dee recalls her return to TV after her kidnapping and attempted murder
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Merri Dee discusses her role in asserting victims' rights
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Merri Dee remembers her assailant's release from prison
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Merri Dee details her twenty-eight years at Chicago television station, WGN-TV
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Merri Dee describes her varying roles at Chicago television station, WGN-TV
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Merri Dee recalls the difficult early days at WGN-TV in Chicago
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Merri Dee describes the black community's response to her media success
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Merri Dee reveals her faith in her broadcasting skills
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Merri Dee describes mixed feelings in light of her career success
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Merri Dee discusses her career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Merri Dee describes her position as director of community relations for WGN-TV
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Merri Dee considers the relationship between blacks and the media
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Merri Dee describes her admiration for influential black figures
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Merri Dee shares words of advice
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Merri Dee relates the importance of friendship in her life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Merri Dee describes her loving relationship with her daughter
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Merri Dee touches upon her mother-daughter bond
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Merri Dee discusses her stance on adoption
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Photo - Merri Dee hugs her granddaughter, Marissa Monet and daughter, Toya Monet, ca. 1990s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Photo - Merri Dee with colleagues from WGN-TV, Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Photo - Merri Dee with Chicago Police Superindendent, Matt Rodriguez, Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Photo - Merri Dee with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Photo - Merri Dee with the staff of WGN-TV news, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 1985
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Photo - Merri Dee with WGN-TV co-workers, Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Photo - Merri Dee with WGN-TV news anchor, Allison Payne, Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Photo - Merri Dee with the executive director of the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Photo - Merri Dee with her daughter, Toya Monet
  • Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Photo - Merri Dee models in an advertisement for Bloomingdale's department store, Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Photo - Merri Dee with her daughter, Toya Monet
  • Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Photo - Merri Dee with her granddaughter, Marissa Monet, ca. 1990s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 16 - Photo - Merri Dee's granddaughter, Marissa Monet, ca. 1990s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 17 - Photo - Merri Dee's granddaughter, Marissa Monet, dressed as a flower girl
  • Tape: 6 Story: 18 - Photo - Merri Dee with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, ca. 1990s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 19 - Photo - U.S. Postal memorabilia promoting adoption presented to Merri Dee by The Cradle, Evanston, Illinois, May 11, 2000