Tippy Stringer Conrad, TV weather girl in 1950s

Mrs. Conrad was popular among TV viewers and critics. Mrs. Conrad was popular among TV viewers and critics. (Arthur Ellis/Washington Post)
By Emma Brown
Washington Post / October 27, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Tippy Stringer Huntley Conrad, who became a Washington personality during the 1950s as a comely weather girl issuing forecasts on the local NBC affiliate, died Oct. 1 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 80 and had a brain tumor.

Known as Tippy Stringer when she took to the airwaves, she hosted cooking and homemaking shows on the television station in Washington and on 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 Mrs. Conrad 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. 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 named Tippy 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 Huntley’s widow during a visit to the Big Sky Resort.

Mrs. Conrad moved to Los Angeles and helped manage her husband’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.

Lewis Tipton Stringer was born in Evanston, Ill. Her family moved to the Washington area later that decade.

Mrs. Conrad was noticed for her looks and magnetism while performing onstage in student plays.

During the height of her local fame, Mrs. Conrad often appeared off-screen at local fairs and holiday celebrations.