BERLIN, N.J. -- Legendary Philadelphia-area TV and radio host Sally Starr died Sunday at a nursing home in New Jersey.

WPVI-TV, where Starr had worked in Philadelphia, said Starr died just days after celebrating her 90th birthday.

Starr, whose real name was Sally E. Gray, had been in failing health in recent years.

Affectionately known to fans as "Our Gal Sal," she began her decades-long career as a disc jockey in 1948. She became host of "Popeye Theater" two years later on the former WFIL-TV, now WPVI.

On the two-hour weekday variety show, Starr introduced cartoons, Popeye, the Three Stooges, and celebrity guests to a generation of young people. She became recognized for her trademark spangled, fringed cowgirl costume.

The program was canceled in 1972 and Starr retired to Florida. But she returned to the area a decade later.

While residing in Atco, N.J., Starr earned a living from personal appearances and selling airtime on her "High Noon" radio show that aired on Sundays. She hosted the Vineland show on radio station WVLT into her 80s.

In 1998, Starr filed for bankruptcy protection, saying she was "church-mouse poor." She blamed her financial troubles on alleged comments made by a Trenton radio talk show host on the air.

She sued WKXW-FM in New Jersey saying that host Jeff Diminski slandered her. A state appeals court in 2001 said Starr could go forward with her defamation lawsuit. Diminski later retracted the statements. -- AP

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