Betty Toughill, was 'Palmolive Girl'

August 13, 1994|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,Sun Staff Writer

Betty Toughill, whose picture as the "Palmolive Girl" appeared on billboards advertising the soap in 1920 and 1921 while she was a professional dancer in New York, died Tuesday at Fallston General Hospital after a stroke. She was 91.

A restaurant hostess and ticket clerk at Baltimore's Pennsylvania Station for many years, Mrs. Toughill retired in 1971 as an employee of what was then the Penn Central Railroad.

She had started working in the station's Savarin Restaurant in the late 1930s and became an employee of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1941.

While working at the station, she met many celebrities, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, opera star Robert Merrill and John F. Kennedy and members of his family before he became president.

A woman who was a member of Delaware's du Pont family brought her an orchid from her Wilmington greenhouse on each of many visits to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The former Betty Seiler was born in Baltimore. She moved to New York at the age of 17 to begin her professional dancing career.

When she married and moved to Cleveland, she gave up her work on the stage, but this first marriage ended in divorce.

Returning to Baltimore in the 1930s, she married Morgan Toughill, who died in 1968.

Her interest in dancing continued and she took up ballroom dancing in the 1950s and 1960s.

About a year ago, Mrs. Toughill moved from her Northeast Baltimore apartment to the Bradshaw home of a granddaughter, Elizabeth Rawl.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. today at Mrs. Rawl's home, 11314 Reynolds Road.

Mrs. Toughill is survived by a daughter, Eleanor Kershner of Berlin on the Eastern Shore; another granddaughter, Susan Reid of Birmingham, Ala.; two grandsons, Robert L. Kershner of Ellicott City and Thomas Harrison Kershner of Berlin; and seven great-grandchildren.

A son, Harrison Woodruff, was an Air Force fighter pilot killed in the Korean War.

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