Jane Norman, a Philadelphia native who developed a character named
"Pixanne" that became a local television hit for the entire decade of the 1960s, died Saturday at home in Bala Cynwyd, NBC10 has learned. She was 83.
Norman's affinity for music and the stage showed early as she started piano lessons at 3, and five years later composed a piece that the Philadelphia Orchestra played in concert.
Her long career in song and dance truly hit the big time when a Philadelphia television station, WCAU-TV (then a CBS affiliate before becoming NBC10), took Norman up on her idea for a show about "a female version of Peter Pan."
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After its original run from 1960 to 1969 -- and becoming one of the first in the Philadelphia market to air in color -- "Pixanne" ran another seven years in syndication.
"For 17 years Jane (as Pixanne) "flew" into a magic forest five days a week," her website reads, "where she enchanted children and adults alike."
Her cause of death was not immediately released.
Jane Norman Beazley was born in East Oak Lane and graduated from Olney High School. She went on to graduate from Temple University with a degree in early children education and a minor in television and radio. She worked at WTRI radio in college and acted in Templayer Theater productions.
After college, Norman taught for four years at Shoemaker School in Cheltenham, Montgomery County. Eventually, the itch to perform became too much to bear.
She asked WPVI (the local ABC station) to perform on a children's show, but they passed, noting the station already had a children's show. Next, she went across City Avenue to WCAU.
It's there that she nailed her walk-in audition.
"In the studio, Jane did exactly what she had been doing for the past four years with her kindergarten children: Sing, talk, and tell stories. After ten minutes, the WCAU-TV powers told her to go home and think up a program idea," her website says. "That night at the dining room table, 'Pixanne' was born!"
After "Pixanne," Norman and her husband, Frank Beazley, created a show called "Maintenance Ms." that included short clips to help women do odd jobs and fix-it's around the house.
The show aired on stations across the country. In recent decades, Norman spent time on musicals and wrote songs.
"This was a gift to her grown-up fans. The album, 'In a Christmas Mood,' was played on more than 350 radio stations nationwide," according to her website. "In addition to classic holiday standards, Jane wrote five new original Christmas songs for the CD, many of which are still played on stations during the holiday season."
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.