Cleveland Area Broadcasting Icon Mary Holt Passes Away!
Posted March 22nd 2011
HOLT MARY C. HOLT, passed away quietly at Eliza Bryant Nursing Home on March 9, 2011. Mary was born to the union of Walter and Mathilda Brown in Asheville NC on Aug. 11, 1921. She was 89 years old. She grew up in Asheville, NC and Fremont, OH and later moved to Cleveland where she met and married Lafayette Holt. To this union two children were born.
Mary will be remembered as a Cleveland icon of radio and television. She was the first African-American female radio personality, hosting a gospel music and a country music radio show. Mary Holt didn’t believe the radio ads for her record shop were very well done. Her partner told Mary to give it a try. When she did, the Florida A&M and Case Western Reserve theater graduate did so well that Cleveland radio station WSRS hired her as an announcer, in 1945. Mary Holt appeared over WJW 850 AM doing a “Hillbilly” show and went by the name of “Hillbilly Cindy Lou”(most people thought she was white), later she moved on to WJMO 1490 AM and then WABQ 1540 AM. She was 89 years old. Mary
Holt also was the first African-American in the nation to host a commercial TV show. Her credentials include news director, radio host and radio announcer. She hosted TV shows on three local stations. Mary learned all aspects of the business including production and news direction.
Holt had her lows, including turning in her own son to her brother, a sheriff, for a murder charge. But she maintained her active lifestyle in Cleveland and was listed as both a major black leader and woman leader in the city by the Plain Dealer.
After retirement, Mary continued her involvement in organizing enriching programs for senior citizens. Mary went to join her siblings: sister, Laura Gibbs, brothers, Walter Browne, Johnny Brown, Ralph Brown and Floyd “Butch” Brown. Left to cherish her memory are: daughter, Carole Shaver (Benjamin); son, Clifford Holt, grandson, David Driggins, granddaughter, Phuter Holt Bell, brothers, Leslie “Joe” Brown (Chauncey), Charles Brown, sister, Nancy Holloway and a host of nieces, nephews and special friends. NO SERVICES.
The greatest compliment she received, though, as for anyone who makes their living from their voice was from a fellow DJ: “You ever heard a rose petal talk? She had one of the sweetest, most delicate voices.”