For long-time residents of northeast Indiana , the name Ann Colone brings back many fond memories; "The Ann Colone Show" was a mainstay on WANE-TV from 1958 to 1976. Ms. Colone died yesterday morning after reaching her 77th birthday on Monday.
"The Ann Colone Show" was one of the highest rated programs in Fort Wayne for many years. The show was live and featured such famous guests as Bob Hope, The Rolling Stones and James Earl Jones.The list of celebrities Colone interviewed is not only long, it’s distinguished. Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Loretta Lynn, Count Basie, Liberace, Bob Newhart, Jackie Robinson, Walter Cronkite, Victor Borge, Lucille Ball, Elvis Presley, Joan Crawford, Cary Grant, Woody Allen, Jerry Lewis, Jack Benny, Ed McMahon, Merv Griffin, Mary Tyler Moore, Andy Griffith and Shirley Temple are just some of the celebrities whom Colone interviewed.
Cristine Martin, Colone’s niece, said she’s never met anyone her age or older who grew up in Fort Wayne and didn’t have some memory of Ann Colone. “She was the epitome of stardom in Fort Wayne,” Martin said. Indeed, I remember appearing on camera on the show at the tender age of five. Colone often had children tell their personal tales on the show, and would reward them with a prize for their efforts.
I told the story of a recent trip we had taken to St.Louis in my mother's 1965 Impala SS convertible. We were stuck on a freeway when a rainstorm began and we had to work the top up while maneuvering through traffic as we were unable to navigate to the side of the road. I remember Ann as being very easy to talk to (from a kid's perspective), and she rewarded me for my story with a huge pirate battleship with tons of stickers. I was a fan for life! =)
The first woman disc jockey in Fort Wayne, Colone started working for WANE in 1958 and became the first woman to host her own live, Monday through Friday television show in Fort Wayne. Between 1958 and 1975, Colone’s daily television show covered topics ranging from the need for women to have routine breast exams to dog sledding in frigid weather.
And though she had a celebrity status in the city, Colone didn’t let it get to her head, said Ron Harmeyer, chief photographer at WANE who worked with Colone during her show’s 17-year run. “I don’t care who she was interviewing, after the show was over with, she would always introduce them to the camera crew on the floor. A lot of people didn’t do that,” Harmeyer said. “She was a real person, even though she was real famous”.Harmeyer also said that during a time when television personalities would do live advertisements, national companies would demand that Colone be the one to present their products to the public.“In the 60s and 70s, WANE-TV was Ann Colone, basically,” Harmeyer said.
After 17 years, Colone’s show ended in 1975 and Colone continued to work at WANE until 1981, 22 1/2 years after joining the station. Since that time, Colone had worked at St. Joseph Hospital, Arata Medical Group, the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office and the Fort Wayne License Bureau. In recent years, Martin said, Colone volunteered at Parkview Hospital and the VA Medical Center.
She is a true community treasure who will be missed dearly and remembered well always.