Bettie H. Tolson

June 16, 1922January 15, 2013

Omaha television pioneer Bettie Tolson was known for her love of hats. Her family and friends will be wearing hats when they say goodbye at her memorial service Thursday.

Tolson, 90, died Tuesday at Immanuel Fontenelle Home of complications from a Christmas Day heart attack, said daughter Nikki Heim of Omaha and Clearwater, Fla.

Tolson’s memorial service will be at 11 a.m. at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 5410 Corby St.

She had her own show, “Your TV Home,” throughout the 1950s on KMTV, her family said. The show featured cooking and interviews with national and Omaha celebrities.

Tolson’s family has photos of her with entertainers Broderick Crawford, Thelma Ritter, Doris Day and Dinah Shore — all guests on Tolson’s show.

“She was good friends with Johnny Carson and that group,” Heim said. “That was back in the early days when all the pioneers in early TV in Omaha hung around together.”

When KMTV had a 25th anniversary show at the Orpheum Theater, Heim said, Johnny Carson asked: “Bettie, are you still alive?”

For a while, Tolson also had an Omaha-based entertainment booking agency called National Orchestra Service. It booked orchestras and many other acts, including a budding Omaha musician.

“Johnny Ray Gomez cut his first record in our living room in Omaha” in the late 1950s, Heim said.

Tolson also was Miss Peter Pan Peanut Butter (dressed in green and with a green hat) in the early 1950s in Omaha and was the first “Miss Color TV” selected in New York City, her family said.

Tolson, whose friends called her Betty Boop, loved to wear Betty Boop-inspired things, her daughter said.

“She was a hoot,” Heim said. “She had a wonderful life.”

Bettie Helmle Tolson grew up in Omaha and graduated from Benson High School in 1939, the same year she married.

“She went to work at the (Martin) Bomber plant” near Bellevue during World War II and was a home party lady for Peggy Newton Cosmetics in the 1940s, Heim said.

After taking time off to raise a family, Tolson sold cosmetics at J.C. Penney at the Westroads.

Well into her 80s, Tolson ushered at the College World Series, Civic Auditorium, Omaha Community Playhouse, Orpheum Theater and Qwest Center Omaha. She also volunteered at Methodist Hospital.

At the CWS, “The guys from Texas — Hook ’em Horns — adopted her like you wouldn’t believe,” Heim said.

“She just made them feel welcome to Omaha.”

Tolson was preceded in death by her husband of 46 years, Blair Tolson.

Besides Heim, other survivors include daughters Judy Iakisch of Omaha and Clearwater, and Peggy Mitchell of Clearwater; 12 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren.


  • Memorial Service Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bettie H. Tolson

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Michelle Rost

January 17, 2013

Grama Bettie you'll be missed by so many! I will never forget our very first conversation 29 years ago... I'm so glad I was able to find you guys!!! You definitely left an imprint in my heart for always!! I remember last year just how stubborn you were insisting on getting a bathing suit so you could sunbathe in the mornings!!!! Your were such a kick to be around with. I love you!!! Always!!
Going to miss you!! Love you Michelle Rost


January 17, 2013


Candy Green

January 17, 2013

Bettie was such a beautiful lady with a warm smile, the luncheons at Methodist Hospital will miss Bettie and her hats. Loved her so much. Candy Green

Clara Bruning

January 16, 2013


To a life well lived .

You shared yourself and brought
so much goodness and joy to those whose lives you touched.
Your heart was pure gold.
Know that you were loved and will be missed by so many.
You made us very proud.
A wonderful lady from a grand generation .

I am very sure that you are
with your loved ones in heaven . Many welcome you home and you are in the arms
of Bud and your parents. Mom and Nelle. So many.

I see your pretty face and warm smile.

You were comfort and happiness. Your words were always positive. You always had the most original and wonderful sayings.

My deepest sympathy to all.


Terri Dhondt

January 16, 2013

Dear Peggy and family, Praying for you all as you celebrate your wonderful loved one's life. I feel very blessed to have met your mom.My deepest sympathy...


January 16, 2013

My dear Grandma, you keep telling me you wanted to go "Home" and I knew what you ment. You were wanting to see Jesus and Grandpa and I know you are Home now. I love you Grandma and will miss you dearly but I will not be sad because I know you are where you belong and you, Grandpa and Jesus are together. You are and always will be with me! Til we meet again!

Jennifer Luna

January 16, 2013

You will be greatly missed Bettie....

Karen Babb

January 16, 2013

Sweet Bettie first I will miss our Monday's out to dinner with your other daughters. But most I will cherish our 20 min of alone time on Monday we had a great talk & I know you heard me.I told you what a great Mother you had been to the girls & than to the grandkids & I know you missed Bud so very much when I said that it was OK to go see him you squeezed my hand. Rest in Peace my other MOM Love Karen