Mary Jane Odell dead at 87


Mary Jane Odell, who not only had a long run as one of Iowa’s best-known television personalities, but also as an elected official of the state, has died. She was 87.

Odell, then Mary Jane Chinn, hosted a daytime interview show on KRNT-TV (now KCCI) when it signed on in 1955. A dozen years later she moved to the Chicago market, where she continued her success and won two Emmy awards. The photo posted by KCCI shows her with famed network TV host Garry Moore. Odell returned to her native Iowa in 1975 and joined the staff of Iowa Public Television, where she hosted two programs.

Odell resigned from the public TV outlet in 1980 when she was appointed to fill an unexpired term as Iowa Secretary of State. A Republican, she was then elected in her own right and served until 1987.

The broadcaster was named to the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 1979, even before adding the political office to her accomplishments.