In the 1950s, men would never mind gathering around the old DuMont black and white television console with the kiddies, as long as they wanted to watch Super Circus. That could be because of wholesomely sexy Mary Hartline, considered to be the nation’s first television sex symbol, and a star of the beloved children’s program.

Super Circus began airing on TV in 1948 every Sunday afternoon on the ABC network. Mary Hartline joined the circus one year later in 1949. In addition to the beautiful Mary Hartline, there were other characters that went by the names, Cliffy, Scampy, and Nicki the clowns, and also Mike Wallace who voiced the show’s commercial pitches. 

Audiences were drawn in by the show’s authentic circus feel and Mary’s high-cut skirt and low-cut costumes certainly helped the ratings as well. The program became an instant national success and it shot Mary into the limelight as the nation’s first star with both child and adult appeal.

During the beginning of each show, Mary would play the role of drum major and direct the brassy “Super Circus Band” in an exciting number. Her fluent moves to a rhythmic beat and her smooth baton twirling skills, gave Mary the boost and popularity she needed to reach the top, as many girls in the 1950s tuned in because Mary embodied their dream of being a popular majorette.

Hartline became so popular that she was given her own 15-minute weekday children’s television show. This was a fantastic program for the kids, and every week a child would get to call into the show and talk to Hartline his or her self! They also had a chance to win prizes such as a Mary Hartline doll. The Mary Hartline show aired from February to June, 1951.

Hartline continued to work on Super Circus until 1955, when the show was revamped and production moved to New York. She still continues to make appearances for her fans, signing autographs at Palm Beach collector’s shows.