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Mary Hart (TV personality)

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Mary Hart (TV personality)

For other people named Mary Hart, see Mary Hart (disambiguation).
Mary Hart
Heart Truth charity fashion show in 2007
Born Mary Johanna Harum
(1950-11-08) November 8, 1950 (age 63)
Madison, South Dakota, U.S.[1]
Occupation Former television personality
Years active 1976–present
Spouse(s) Terry Hart (1972–1979) (divorced)
Burt Sugarman (1989-present)

Mary Hart (born November 8, 1950[1]) is an American television personality and was the long-running host of the syndicated gossip and entertainment round-up program Entertainment Tonight from 1982 to 2011, which is the longest running entertainment magazine show of all time.[2]

Early life

Mary Hart was born Mary Johanna Harum in Madison, South Dakota[1] and lived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as well as in Denmark, as a child and teenager.[3] She speaks both Danish and Swedish fluently. Hart competed in the Miss America pageant in 1970 as Miss South Dakota, and finished in the top ten.[4] Two years later, Hart graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls and while teaching English at school she also produced and anchored her own talk show on KSFY-TV, the local ABC affiliate.[3] Also as a young adult Mary worked at JayCee Camp for the Exceptional (Handicapped, at that time) during the summer.


Hart began her full-time television career at KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1976, she went to KTVY (now KFOR-TV) in Oklahoma City, where she co-hosted a show with Danny Williams called Dannysday. She also was a sales representative for a school yearbook company. Determined to leave journalism behind, she moved to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Westwood in 1979 with $10,000 in the bank.[5] Hart landed a small role on the soap opera Days of our Lives, as well as some TV commercials. Almost broke, she became a co-host on the Los Angeles version of the syndicated PM Magazine. That led to a job in 1981 as co-host of Regis Philbin's first national talk show on NBC. When that show was canceled four months later, Entertainment Tonight interviewed her about what it felt like to be canceled. The day after the interview, she was hired as an ET correspondent. Thirteen weeks later, she was named the show's co-host, along with Ron Hendren.[6]

In 1984, Hendren was replaced by Robb Weller, who was replaced by John Tesh in 1986, who was replaced by Bob Goen in 1996. Hart has co-hosted ET with Mark Steines since 2004.[5][7] Soon after her hiring by ET, Hart chose Jay Bernstein as her manager. Hart is known for her shapely legs, leading to an endorsement contract with Hanes for that company's line of pantyhose in 1987. Jay Bernstein had her legs insured with Lloyd's of London for $1 million each.[8][9] Executive Producer Linda Bell Blue described Hart as "the face of ET"[7]

During the summer of 1988, Hart appeared in Las Vegas with comedian David Brenner at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, which realized another of her childhood dreams, singing and dancing on stage. She continued her work on Entertainment Tonight while performing in Las Vegas, flying between the cities after two shows in Vegas, the last at 11:00PM, to film ET the following morning at 8:00AM.[10] In 1991, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that Hart's voice had triggered seizures in an epileptic woman.[11] This was later referenced in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures[12] and the NBC sitcom Seinfeld, where Kramer (Michael Richards) suffers from convulsions whenever he hears Hart's voice. Hart has been parodied in Animaniacs in the character "Mary Heartless". She had also voiced a cartoon character named "Fairy Hart" in an episode of The Fairly OddParents where Bob Goen voiced "Bob Glimmer", and in The Fairly Oddparents TV movie, Fairly OddBaby.

In May 2009, Hart suffered a broken left wrist[13] due to an accident at home (not due to any exotic activity, despite her jokes about it). While her wrist was healing, she wore various brightly colored slings designed to match or complement her wardrobe for each show. On August 5, 2010, Hart announced that she was leaving the show at the end of the upcoming 30th season, citing that she was ready for a change.[14] On May 11, 2011, Hart appeared on The View, where it was mentioned her last show would air May 20. It was also referenced on ET on Monday, May 9, when co-host Mark Steines referenced 10 shows left with her. On May 12, 2011, Regis Philbin appeared on ET to say goodbye to Hart. There it was announced she broke a Guinness World Record for the "longest serving entertainment news host". On May 20, 2011, after 29 years with ET, Hart exited the show.

Personal life

Hart lives in Los Angeles, California with her film-producer husband, Burt Sugarman. They married in a private ceremony aboard a yacht in 1989[15] and have one son, Alec J "AJ" Sugarman. She is a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers and has performed the national anthem prior to games on several occasions.[16][17] Since 2000 she has had a home in Palm Desert, California[18] where she supports many local charities.[19]

As Cochair of the New Hospital Building Campaign Committee for Children's Hospital Los Angeles she helped pave the way for the opening of the new hospital building in July 2011. She has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2003.[20]

On August 17, 2011, Mary was announced as the Official Spokeswoman of Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Initiative, which will focus on research and care to decode the genetic make-up of every woman who volunteers to take part, in the hope to end breast cancer.


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • Twitter
  • Online
Preceded by
Dixie Whatley
Co-host of Entertainment Tonight
Succeeded by
Nancy O'Dell

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