Miss Julie, the unflappable mistress of KSL's "Romper Room," has attained everything in life any of her 6,000 children would have wished for her.
She has a dog and a rabbit that take naps together and chase each other tirelessly about the yard all day. She has a swimming pool, a tennis court and an immense yard so crowded with trees it is a wonderland of scary spots and secret hiding places.She has other things that would be of less interest to children: a radiantly happy marriage after widowhood and a divorce, a beautiful home with palatial overtones, more projects than she can ever get to and that ageless zest that carried her through early morning frolics with half-a-dozen youngsters every weekday morning for 17 years.
There were three or four Miss Julies in the show's 23-year run. But if you grew up in the '60s and '70s, you knew only one: Edna Anderson-Taylor. A sunny blonde with a throaty voice, she led you in the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. She introduced you to all of the new animals at the zoo, and she invited your help in dressing Willie the Weatherman for the day's weather.
Best of all, if it was your birthday or you were in the hospital, she held you breathless with the words, "Romper, bomper, stomper, boo, tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, did all my friends have fun at play." Then, if you were very lucky, she read your name on the air.
Romper Room was a nationally syndicated format that aired in 104 markets and seven countries. The Salt Lake market had one of the highest ratings of the 104. At one time, the show was 11th in this market, a remarkable achievement for a children's show.
Anderson-Taylor left Romper Room in 1981, after over 6,000 children and scores of animals had each spent a morning on her set. She moved across the hall to the station's sales department and worked for seven years as a marketing consultant. KSL dropped the show shortly after she left.
Anderson-Taylor exchanged the pressure of Romper Room for the more relentless pressure of 10-hour days. She loved the work. But if you've met her, you would expect that. Loving every day is integral to her personality.
During those executive years, she met and married her third husband, Jerry Taylor. The two met on a blind date after someone tried to line Taylor up with Anderson-Taylor's niece.
The niece felt he was a bit old for her and recommended her "Auntie Edna" instead. Auntie was entranced from the moment she saw Taylor. They have been married four years.
"Most women don't find one man in a lifetime whom they are truly, deeply in love with. I feel fortunate. I have found two."
She is referring to her first husband, Jack Anderson. Anderson, an insurance executive, was killed in a plane crash when the couple was still young and their two children small.
Anderson-Taylor adored her husband. "That used to be my only fear _ losing Jack." When fate brought her biggest fear home to her, It was Romper Room that saw her through.
"Romper Room was the only area of my life that wasn't permeated with my husband. The half hour when I was doing the show every day was the one half hour I could forget about the tragedy in my life. It allowed me to survive."
In time, she went from surviving to flourishing. She quit KSL in January after working there nearly 25 years. She had done most everything KSL had to offer, and it was time to move on, she said.
She is most of the way through the year of leisure she promised herself.
"I decided to take some time, look over the menu of life and decide what I want to do when I grow up _ if I ever grow up."
She is enjoying her elegant home, tending her garden, swimming and playing tennis.
"Some days, I don't do anything."
On the days she chooses to do something, she usually golfs with one of her children and works on her several projects. She edited her husband's book, which will soon be published, and she does charity work.
Right now, she is deciding when to go back to work. It won't be with KSL.
"I think I'm ready for a new career." She has turned down several "wonderful" job offers because this year of leisure meant so much to her.Comment on this story
When she's ready to go back to work, she's half afraid the offers won't be there. "Timing is everything in life," she laughed.
With at least 15 working years ahead of her, Anderson-Taylor plans to do something in public or media relations. "I would be foolish to turn my back on 25 years of media training."
Whatever she does, the specter of Romper Room will follow her.
"I don't think I spend a single day that someone doesn't say, `I remember you on the show,' or `I was on the show' or `My brother was on the show.' That's quite wonderful. When I left the show, I thought I would be out of sight or out of mind."