Tippy Stringer Huntley Conrad, charming D.C. weather beauty, dies at 80

Shown in 1955, WRC-TV's Tippy Stringer appeared twice each evening in pearls and a perfect coiffure.
Shown in 1955, WRC-TV's Tippy Stringer appeared twice each evening in pearls and a perfect coiffure. (File Photo By Arthur Ellis)
By Emma Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 23, 2010; 9:46 PM

Tippy Stringer Huntley Conrad, who became a Washington personality during the 1950s as a comely weather girl issuing forecasts on the local NBC affiliate, and who left the city for New York when she married television newsman Chet Huntley, died Oct. 1 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 80 and had a brain tumor.

Miss Tippy Stringer, as she was known when she took to the airwaves, hosted cooking and homemaking shows on WRC-TV and radio before she landed a permanent role as the station's weather girl in 1953. She was often joined on-air by a cartoon character she created named Senator Fairweather, whose doe-eyed likeness was photographed with Tippy for Life magazine in 1955.

Mrs. Conrad appeared as a weather girl twice each evening, at 6:45 and 11:10, wearing pearls and a perfect coiffure. In between, she raced to the Shoreham Hotel's swanky Blue Room nightclub, where she changed costumes to sing in two nightly floor shows.

Five-foot-five, blond and slender, she was popular among television viewers and critics alike.

She "pitches her patter at women, but Miss Stringer herself is well-worth any male's attention," wrote Washington Post TV reviewer Lawrence Laurent in 1953. "Her long suit is fashion, beauty and the undeniable fact that she's about the cutest thing seen on TV in these parts."

Washington newsman David Brinkley, whom Miss Stringer knew through her television work, introduced her to Chet Huntley, who was known nationally for broadcasting the news with Brinkley on NBC's "The Huntley-Brinkley Report."

"She sat in my lap or something corny like that," Brinkley said in a 1961 interview, "and I told her who Chet was while he looked on [in] the monitor. The next thing I knew he was taking her out."

The couple married in 1959. They lived in New York until retiring in 1970 to Huntley's home state, Montana, where they founded the Big Sky Resort on the Gallatin River outside Bozeman. Chet Huntley died just three days before the 1974 dedication ceremony for the $25 million recreational complex.

The resort, which includes a golf course and a tangle of ski runs including one called "Tippy's Tumble," was sold to a Michigan company in 1976. Mrs. Conrad - then Mrs. Huntley - ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1978 as a Republican candidate from Montana.

In 1980, she met and married another nationally known figure: William Conrad, an actor who first rose to prominence as the voice of Marshal Matt Dillon on the radio program "Gunsmoke." He had been widowed in 1977, and he met Tippy during a visit to the Big Sky Resort.

Mrs. Conrad moved to Los Angeles and helped manage Conrad's later career, which included a starring role in the CBS legal drama "Jake and the Fatman." William Conrad died in 1994 after 14 years of marriage.

In 1995, Mrs. Conrad founded the Stringer Foundation to support causes including public broadcasting and reproductive education.

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