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Sally Jesse Raphael is an American talk show host best known for TV’s Sally Jesse Raphael and her trademark red glasses.
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Sally Jesse Raphael is an American talk show host born on February 25, 1935 in Easton, Pennsylvania. Raphael studied broadcasting and acting while in college. She began as a correspondent in Puerto Rico before working in the U.S. in radio and TV during the 1960s and '70s. Raphael debuted as the host of Sally Jesse Raphael in 1983. Recognized by her trademark red frame glasses, the show became a hit and aired until 2002. Since then Raphael has hosted shows on the internet and radio.
Talk show host Sally Lowenthal was born on February 25, 1943, in Easton, Pennsylvania. Her father was a prosperous business executive, who Sally claims was “the last of the men who wore Dunhill suits and silk ties,” and her mother was an artist whose paintings still hang in city museums. Raphael grew up in Westchester County, New York, until she was 12. The family then moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where her father owned a rum-exporting company. Raphael had a very privileged upbringing, but after her family moved back to the U.S. in the 1950s, her father developed a heart condition, and the medical bills eventually drained the family’s finances.
Enchanted by radio, she landed a job reading the junior high school news on WFAS-AM in White Plains, New York, at the age of 14. After high school, she got a broadcasting degree at Columbia University, then took a turn towards acting at The Actor’s Studio, where she studied with Lee Strasberg. At 18, she married and moved to San Juan with her new husband, Andrew Vladimir; they had two daughters, Allison and Andrea. Soon after, Raphael began her roller-coaster career in broadcasting that would eventually take her through more than 24 cities. She found Puerto Rico to be a fertile starting point because “they let me do everything…I was the girl reporter, standing in front of the burning buildings. I was the morning man, doing comedy, weather, and news for WHOA above a garage.” She also served as a correspondent for the Associated Press, hosted a cooking/chatting show in “Spanglish,” and eventually scored her own talk show at the poolside of a posh hotel. While starting out in broadcasting in Puerto Rico, she decided to change her name, taking her father's first name, Jessy, and her mother's maiden name, Raphael, because, as she told People magazine in 1992, "most people in Puerto Rico have three names."
After her first marriage ended in the late '60s, Raphael left Puerto Rico with her two daughters, a foster son and her new companion, Karl Soderlund, who had become her manager and greatest supporter. They first settled in Miami, but eventually headed north, traveling town-to-town in search of broadcasting work—living meagerly, and often sleeping in the car. She accepted a variety of broadcasting assignments, including a few stints as a rock-‘n’-roll disk jockey and hosting a television puppet show. However, Raphael failed to find steady employment and was fired over eighteen times during this period.
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