At 76 years old, Merri Dee’s life reads a bit like a Hollywood screenplay: love, loss, intrigue. She was a local television star with 43 years in Chicago broadcasting, nearly all of them spent right at WGN TV. She has a challenging past but overcame adversity over and over again by continuing to tell herself one thing: When life gets you down, you pick yourself up. Don’t just take the hard knocks, fight back. She did it with grace and integrity.
She’s written a memoir that is part biography and part self-help. It’s called Merri Dee, Life Lessons on Faith, Forgiveness and Grace.
Her mother died when she was just 2. Her stepmother beat her for years then cast her away at the young age of 14.
Out on her own at such a tender age, Merri Dee was determined to make something of herself. And so she did.
From auto shows to radio shows, talkshows to telethons, the outlets for this budding star were limitless.
But life was far from easy.
In that time, she married, had a daughter and divorced. In 1971, everything changed for this single mother with a stand out smile. Merri was kidnapped as she was leaving a television studio one night. Her attacker wanted her money. He drove her and her TV guest that night to the south side then pulled out a gun. Merri Dee was shot in the head twice, yet survived. The gunman went to prison but was later paroled. Her story so compelling, it became the subject of a 60 Minutes piece years later.
From that day forward, victims’ rights-became Merri Dee’s cause.
“I can be knocked down and rise again,” she said.
Her book is a look at one victim who won’t allow herself to be seen as one. Her suffering is a platform from which to teach others, she says. Merri Dee, Life Lessons on Faith, Forgiveness and Grace is a tool full of truths about beating the odds and seeing, actually feeling, the good around you.
Merri Dee has been busy her whole life and retirement, of course, is no different. She is already penning her 2nd book.