Virginia Graham

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Virginia Graham
Virginia Graham 1972.JPG
Graham in 1972
Born Virginia Komiss
(1912-07-04)July 4, 1912
Chicago, Illinois
Died December 22, 1998(1998-12-22) (aged 86)
New York City, New York
Cause of death heart attack

Virginia Graham, born Virginia Komiss, (July 4, 1912 – December 22, 1998)[1][2] was a daytime television talk show host from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s. On television, Graham hosted the syndicated programs Food for Thought (1953–1957),[3] Girl Talk, which debuted in January 1963 and ran until 1969;[4] and The Virginia Graham Show (1970–1972). She was also a guest on many other programs.

Graham was born and raised in Chicago. Her father, an immigrant from Germany, became a successful businessman who owned the Komiss department store chain [5] She graduated from the Frances Parker School in Chicago, and in 1931, received her degree from the University of Chicago, where she had studied anthropology. She later got a Master's degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. In 1935, she married Harry William Guttenberg, a costume manufacturer. They remained married till his death in 1980.[6]

She was described as "a bright, alert, talkative woman of ripe, tart-edged candor."[7] Another writer said she looked like "Sophie Tucker doing a Carol Channing performance."[8]

She attended the University of Chicago, where she majored in anthropology, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She then studied journalism at Northwestern University, and received a master's degree. After World War II, she wrote scripts for such radio soap operas as Stella Dallas, Our Gal Sunday, and Backstage Wife. She hosted her first radio talk show in 1951.[9] Graham was a panelist on the DuMont panel show Where Was I? (1952–53). She succeeded Margaret Truman in 1956 as co-host of the NBC radio show Weekday, teamed with Mike Wallace.[10]

In 1982, Graham played fictional talk show host Stella Stanton in the final episodes of the soap opera Texas. Her book about her husband's death, Life After Harry: My Adventures in Widowhood, became a bestseller in 1988. Harry Guttenberg, who died in 1980, had owned and run a theatrical costume company.

Graham, a cancer survivor, was a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. A former smoker, she denounced smoking whenever the opportunity arose. Still, when asked on her program what she would do if she knew the world would end tomorrow, she confessed she would smoke.


  • There Goes What's Her Name: The Continuing Saga of Virginia Graham (with Jean Libman Block), 1965.
  • Don't Blame the Mirror (with Jean Libman Block), 1967. Self-improvement, beauty advice.
  • If I Made It, So Can You, 1978.
  • Life After Harry: My Adventures in Widowhood, 1988.
  • Look Who's Sleeping in My Bed!, 1993. Memoir.


  1. ^, Social Security Death Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007.
  2. ^ "Virginia Graham, Popular Host of Early Television Talk Shows," New York Times, Dec. 25, 1998, p. B11.
  3. ^ "On Television," New York Times, March 11, 1953, p. 41.
  4. ^ "Program Shifts Set on Channel 7." Boston Herald, January 4, 1963, p. 13
  5. ^ Marian Christy. "Yes, Virginia, There's Always An Audience." Boston Globe, July 7, 1974, p. 56.
  6. ^ Marian Christy. "Straight Talk From Virginia Graham." Boston Globe, May 18, 1988, p. 29
  7. ^ Howard Thompson, "Life As the Girls Live It," New York Times, July 11, 1965, p. X13.
  8. ^ Richard L. Coe, "Virginia Graham in 'Wednesday' at the Hayloft," Washington Post, Sept. 30, 1977, p. C28.
  9. ^ Thompson, ibid..
  10. ^ "M-G-M Bars Use of 'Annie' on TV," New York Times, Feb. 24, 1956, p. 51.

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