Monday, August 17, 2009

Pittsburgh Hero: Sally Wiggin

Rarely do a city's local newscasters earn the accolades, adoration, and the legendary status of this week's Pittsburgh Hero:  Sally Wiggin.

I was going to write an intricately researched and detailed profile of our city's favorite TV personality... but instead have decided to write a post based largely on vague perceptions and personal experience, in hopes of capturing the mystique and myth that is Sally Wiggin.

Sally has worked the Channel 4 Action News desk for nearly 30 years.  
Throughout her career, Sally has been a font of journalistic integrity and award winning stories. Watching Sally for years, I remember her receiving a number of awards in the eighties and nineties specifically a Golden Quill award, and some others that I can't remember off-hand.  In her extensive experiences at WTAE, she has covered serious topics as an anchor in the evening and lunchtime news, as well as conducting prominent interviews with local sports celebrities from Hines Ward to Myron Cope.

A woman after my own heart, Sally has an honesty in reporting that is unparalleled in modern media, but also displays an extensive knowledge of both Steelers football and Penguins hockey.  She also has a sharp tongue and an irreverent wit.  This is often wonderfully highlighted on the occasions in which she fills in on the WDVE Morning Show with Jim & Randy on 102.5 FM.  Who knew she is quite so hilarious?  Indeed, Sally Wiggin is the full package.  

An avid dog lover and owner, Sally is also highly active in the community.  
Sally is involved with a number of charities and cultural institutions.  She is a member of the Pittsburgh's Zoo's Board of Directors, and attends many of their fund-raising events.  Below, Sally is in an astounding Leopard-print dress that she wore to the 2007 Zoo Gala, where I was lucky enough to meet her.
I have seen Ms. Wiggin before from afar, as she flew by in an Action News Van, or rode through the town of Ligonier for their annual "Fort Ligonier Days Parade."  But at the zoo, we came face to face right in front of the elephant enclosure.  In that dress, she stole the spotlight from even the animals.  She looked amazing.  My unabashed crush on her could not over come the intimidation of actually seeing her in person.  She was larger than life.  I was star-struck.  Sally looks even better in person than she does on the screen.  (I know!?! Is that even possible?!?)  And she has graciously refused all but the most minor of plastic surgeries, to which many weaker stars succumb much earlier in their careers.  I hope this is a life choice she continues to honor.

Sally has maintained her status as a local icon even while local news outlets and newspapers struggle under tough economic conditions.  Her name is recognized across Western Pennsylvania, and her visage has even become a hipster staple on T-shirts and merchandise, such as in the examples below from Marginal Designs.  
I want one.

But her most striking and career topping role came in 1993 when she was prominently featured in Rowdy Harringon's Pittsburgh action-drama-mystery "Striking Distance."  Sally is featured early in film describing the circumstances which puts Bruce Willis' character Tom Hardy on the outs with the Detillos.  If you reference Sally Wiggin in, despite her daily appearances on the small screen, one film and only one film comes up... Striking Distance!  Awesome!

Thank you, Sally Wiggin.  Thank you for being an example of a strong female role model and an image of comfortable class and dignified cheekiness.  You have given Pittsburghers an example of grace and intelligence for all of us to aspire towards here in the "Best City in the World."  May you stick around for many years to come.

Below are Sally's lines from Striking Distance...
"...Police Department, zone one, Sergeant Roberts.  
The Polish Hill Strangler has claimed a fourth victim. 
The nude body of Arlene Dunn was recovered from the Ohio River.  
Police had been alerted to the crimes by the killer, who taunts them by playing the song "Little Red Riding Hood".  
The police brutality trial of Detective Jimmy Detillo is over.  
Detillo was convicted for the beating of Leon Watson. Watson remains in a coma. 
The key to the conviction was the testimony of Detillo's partner and cousin Thomas Hardy.  
Hardy testified that his partner used unwarranted force..." 
       ~Sally Wiggin
by Lord Johnson


Peak said...

Sally Wiggin impressed me the most when I went to see No Country for Old Men. Wiggin walked in, said hello to a friend, and proceeded to tell her friend that the movie was very good. And Wiggin knew this because that particular night was the second time she had been to see the film.

At least I think it was her.

Oh, you know who it is said...

You are MARRIED!

steve said...

i heard that she curses like a sailor. thats hot