The Original Newsbabe

Urban Dictionary defines 'newsbabe' as "a sexually-attractive female news anchor or reporter on TV." It sounds like a modern term, but it actually was in use as far back as 1949, and originated in the context of radio news.

Back then, Christina Ohlsen earned the title of newsbabe while she was working at the U.S. Army's radio station in West Berlin (RIAS, or Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor). On-air, she played a character called 'Das Botenkind' which was a Berlin slang term that got translated as the Newsbabe. She would essentially make fun of the headlines in the Soviet newspapers, while in the persona of this newsbabe.

According to her obituary in the Washington Post (she died in 2012), she later married Air Force Col. William Heimlich, who was her boss at the station, moved with him to Falls Church, Virginia, and taught dance classes there for the rest of her life.

In an interview, her husband offered some recollections of her times as the newsbabe:

Q: How did you meet your wife, who was then Christina Olsen?

A: Christina Olson. She was a guest of my British opposite, Colonel E A Hollard, at a tea to which I was invited. I saw her, I thought she was the loveliest thing I'd ever seen in my life and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her - on the spot. I - came to know her then when she was in RIAS, came to know her much better, and when she came to the United States as a guest of the State Department in 1950 - yes, 1950, we were married here.

Q: If you describe exactly what she was doing for RIAS?

A: In RIAS she was an actress of course and a charming one, a very popular one, and - she did particularly a role called 'Das Botenkind' or 'The Little Messenger - The Newsboy, that's about the only way I can translate that. And she would sing song a pompous news story that appeared in, let us say, the T&aumb;gliche Rundschau, the Soviet Newspaper, and then poke fun at it. Typical example: 'The meat ration this month will not be filled. Instead you will receive four hundred fifty five grams of sugar.' or 'The potato ration this week will not be filled. Instead you will get thirty- three hundred and fifty grammes of soya beans.', or 'The travel cards between Berlin and Dresden will no longer be honoured until further notice. There will be no German personnel allowed to leave the city of Magdeburg until further notice' These pompous things would appear constantly in the Soviet newspaper, and she would talk about it on the air and say, 'I don't understand it. But the big ones, they've got to understand it. All of these things which violated agreements between the Western and the Eastern allies.

Racine Journal Times Sun - Jan 16, 1949

     Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 04, 2019
     Category: Journalism | 1940s

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