'Miss Sally' of kids' TV

The Baltimore Sun

Sally Bell knows a thing or two about children.

In 1964, she succeeded her mother, Nancy Claster, who as "Miss Nancy" had been the original host of Romper Room, the WBAL-TV show that went on the air in Baltimore in 1953 and subsequently entertained generations of preschoolers.

Bell, who left the show in 1980, worked until 2000 in a variety of positions with Claster Television Inc., the family-owned business that created Romper Room.

Today, Bell, 64, who lives in Pacific Palisades, Calif., with her husband, Alan J. Bell, a veteran television and newspaper executive, has just completed a new project.

"You might say I've returned to my roots. I've just recently completed putting together with my partners, Three Moms and a Dad LLC, a property for families which I hope will help make family life a little happier," she said.

Bell is talking about trying to help parents with a difficult subject: their children's bedtime.

"Who among us have not had these problems? Yes, I remember all of this quite distinctly," said Bell, whose two children are now grown. "I must've read Bedtime for Frances to my son, Joey, 700 or 800 times."

Night, Night. Making Bedtime a Dream will be a series of videos with animated animals telling stories for children.

"Our aim with this is to help children get to bed and parents have a little peace," she said.

Bell says they hope to have the videos in bookstores and other retail outlets in six to eight months. "We're also going to include an e-mail database so we can solicit advice and ideas from parents. It will be like a parents' advisory."

Bell was quick to add: "However, the most fun I've had in life was with Romper Room. It had value for a lot of people."

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