Sylvia Scott, 83, longtime host of TV talk show on WMAR

November 02, 2005|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

Sylvia Scott, host for 17 years of an afternoon television talk show in Baltimore, died in her sleep Thursday at her home in Oxford on the Eastern Shore. She was 83.

The show, The Woman's Angle, was already a staple of WMAR-TV's afternoon lineup when she took over in 1959. Opening with a logo of a lighted cigarette and cup of coffee, it soon featured a perfectly coiffed and immaculately attired Miss Scott interviewing performers from the old Ford's Theatre, guests from garden clubs, local chefs, physicians and the like.

"In her day, she was Miss Television in Baltimore," said longtime WJZ-TV personality Richard Sher. "She was the definition of the local TV superstar."

Sylvia Alexandra Tarvid was born in Cicero, Ill., the daughter of Lithuanian immigrant parents. She moved to Baltimore in 1943 to work in the legal department of the old Glenn L. Martin Co. aircraft plant in Middle River.

She subsequently worked at the Johns Hopkins University and at McCormick & Co., where she was to meet her husband.

Miss Scott made her debut on WMAR in the mid-1950s in a public service show, Get Together. She later filled in for Ann Mar, who had been the regular host of The Woman's Angle since its 1950 beginning.

Miss Scott took over the show when Miss Mar accepted a job with a New York advertising agency. Miss Scott appeared on camera for the next 17 years, until the station's management canceled the show. It went off the air Sept. 3, 1976.

"It was once a very popular show," Robert Helsley, former WMAR-TV art director, said yesterday. "When the show was canceled, she was devastated."

He recalled a show during which Miss Scott had the cast to the musical A Little Night Music and interviewed one of its featured performers: Margaret Hamilton, who had appeared years earlier as the Wicked Witch of the West in the film version of The Wizard of Oz.

"She always had great taste," Mr. Sher said. "And she was meticulous about everything she did. She took care to find the right foods, the right guests, the right word. She brought class to TV back then."

"She had a good, long run," said retired Evening Sun entertainment critic Lou Cedrone. "In a time before the big networks dominated everything, Sylvia held her own. She was good on camera."

By the 1970s, as more women were joining the work force, Sun critic Judy Bachrach wrote that the show "pirouettes through a lunchtime world of neatly crossed ankles and furniture polish" and summed up The Woman's Angle as "a daily excursion into knowing thy place."

At the time, Miss Scott was mapping out a possible career change.

In November 1971, she and her husband, Edward J. Vinnicombe Jr., a McCormick & Co. executive, purchased a commercial property in Oxford in Talbot County.

They opened Oxford Mews Bike Boutique, which they described as a "modern-day general store."

The operation combined a bicycle shop - as an agency for Schwinn - and had an art gallery mixed in with a general merchandise and gourmet food operation, including McCormick spices and meats to provision boaters' galleys.

"She had a very good eye for stocking the place and personally selected everything, from a good metal polish to olives soaked in vermouth," said Donna Hayes, manager of the store, which remains in operation as Oxford Mews Emporium. "Her customers loved to see her because she was Sylvia Scott. She kept her hair the same, maybe a little more casual. She also wore another trademark: unusual hats."

Her husband of 49 years died in 1997.

Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.

Survivors include a stepdaughter, Susan Vinnicombe of Fairfax, Calif.; and a nephew.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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