Saturday, April 20

Who was Merri Dee and what was her cause of death?

BROADCASTER Merri Dee has died at the age of 85.

The Chicago TV journalist suffered a kidnapping and shooting in 1971.

Merri Dee died peacefully in her sleep, a statement from her family said


Merri Dee died peacefully in her sleep, a statement from her family saidCredit: Getty

Who was Merri Dee?

Dee worked on-air for WGN-TV in the 1970s and 80s, later becoming the station’s director of community relations.

She was born Mary Francine Dorham on October 30, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois, to John Blouin, a postal worker, and Ethel Dorham.

Dee was the youngest of six children and grew up in New Orleans following her mom’s death in 1939.

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Her dad remarried four years later and Dee has said her stepmom would abuse her and later sent her to an orphanage.

Dee returned to Chicago as a teenager and after graduating high school, attended Xavier University where she majored in business administration.

She dropped out though in order to take care of her siblings and got a job as a salesperson with IBM.

Dee landed her first hosting role with radio station WBEE in Harvey, Illinois, rising to become something of a celebrity in Chicago radio.

In 1971, Dee became the host of The Merri Dee Show, a local talk show on then-independent station WSNS.

After taking a year out to recover from her kidnapping and shooting she returned to broadcasting in 1972, becoming an anchor for then-independent station WGN-TV’s 10pm newscast.

She held various on-air positions over 11 years at the station before becoming director of community development and manager of WGN-TV Children’s Charities, where she remained until she retired from the station in the fall of 2008.

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How did Merri Dee die?

According to her family, Dee died peacefully in her sleep.

“With great sadness, our family announces the loss of our beloved matriarch, the brightest light in our lives, Merri Dee, who died peacefully in her sleep at home,” read a statement from Dee’s family.

“As you can imagine our family is simply heartbroken and ask for privacy at this time.”

Dee was described as a “one-of-a-kind legend,” by WGN-TV.

“From WGN staff announcer to hosting parade telecasts, telethons and even the Illinois Lottery drawings, she was synonymous with WGN-TV. 

“She was groundbreaking in the broadcasting field and an inspiration to several generations of young women. 

“Among her greatest legacies as Director of Community Relations, she spoke at thousands of events and helped raise over $30million dollars for WGN-TV Children’s Charities, benefitting various organizations throughout Chicagoland. Merri Dee was a pioneer who will be greatly missed.”

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot also paid tribute in a statement: “Mrs. Dee was a homegrown, broadcasting legend whose time as an anchor and radio and talk show host made her a beloved, local celebrity. 

“In addition to her television and radio work, she also made a huge impact on communities across our city and state through a number of philanthropic pursuits that reflected her passion for protecting vulnerable individuals such as children in need of adoptive homes. 

“Mrs. Dee has truly made a positive and indelible mark on our city and inspired countless others to follow in her footsteps. We offer our deepest condolences to her loved ones during this difficult time.”

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Dee is survived by her husband, Nicolas Fulop, and their two children, a daughter and a son.

Dee suffered a horrifying kidnapping and shooting in 1971


Dee suffered a horrifying kidnapping and shooting in 1971Credit:

What happened to Merri Dee in 1971 kidnapping?

She hit the headlines for her 1971 kidnapping after an assailant forced her to drive to a remote location along with psychic Alan Sandler, a guest on her show at the time.

The perpetrator shot both Dee and Sandler in the back of the head, killing Sandler and nearly killing Dee.

“I smile, because it’s only because of my faith that I believe that I’m supposed to be here,” Dee said on Windy City Live in 2013, talking about the horrific ordeal.

“I’m supposed to be here. The gentleman who was with me did not live, and here I am.”

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A man named Samuel Drew was convicted for the attack. Dee’s near-death experience inspired her to become an advocate for victims of gun violence.

“One person really can make a difference. I was angry when he [Drew] received a 120-year sentence. after 12 years he was getting out of jail,” said Dee.

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