Carol Duvall looked at the plastic foam trays that meat or vegetables come packaged in and saw picture frames. To her, “rock, paper, scissors” wasn’t a children’s game; it was a list of what you needed to make a personalized gift for someone to place on the mantel or in the garden.
Ms. Duvall encouraged countless television viewers to make their own picture frames, greeting cards, place mats, jewelry, Christmas decorations and more, first in Michigan and then nationally through programs on ABC and HGTV.
Newspapers called her the queen, or sometimes the empress, of crafting. Some of her fans called her a savior of sorts, the person who showed them a skill that they turned into a business, or who gave them something constructive to do while going through chemotherapy or recovering from surgery.
Ms. Duvall, host of “The Carol Duvall Show,” which ran on HGTV for more than a decade, died on July 31 in Traverse City, Mich. She was 97.
Rita Ann Doerr, who had been married to her son Michael and accompanied her to many public appearances, confirmed her death, at an assisted living complex that had been Ms. Duvall’s home for several years.
Ms. Duvall was on television from the medium’s earliest days. She told The Detroit Free Press in 1997 that in 1951, living in Grand Rapids, Mich., she turned up at a tryout for WOOD-TV, Michigan’s first television station outside of Detroit, and won a spot on a show for children called “Jiffy Carnival.” She said that her father was surprised when she showed him her first paycheck, for $5 — he had thought that she would have to pay the station to be on television.
The company that owned the station also owned a radio station, and Ms. Duvall was soon a frequent presence on both.
In 1962 she moved to WWJ-TV of Detroit, where she hosted “Living,” a morning show. Two years later the station asked her to fill a five-minute gap between a travel show and the evening news, but didn’t give her much guidance.
“I did anything I could possibly think of” to fill the time, she told the Knight Ridder News Service in 1999. She would talk about books she’d read or movies she’d seen. And occasionally, she would try to demonstrate some crafty thing she remembered from childhood, like making a yarn doll.
“Every time I did something like that, I just got tremendous response,” she said. “So I started making stuff. I didn’t know what I was doing.”
“I’m not a crafter who got on television,” she added. “I’m a television person who got into crafting.”
She did those bits for 14 years, then retired, or so she thought. In 1988, when ABC was starting a daytime show called “Home,” a producer remembered her and persuaded her to do crafting segments on the new show, which aired until 1993.
In 1994 she joined the new HGTV network with “The Carol Duvall Show,” which lasted more than 1,000 episodes, winding down in 2005. She was also featured regularly on the Lifetime Network shows “Our Home” and “Handmade by Design.”
The crafts she demonstrated were things anyone could do. She began a picture frame project by cutting the bottom from a plastic foam tray and covering it in colorful fabric. A homemade greeting card was livened up with a butterfly design complete with bits of wire for antenna. Her 2007 book, “Paper Crafting With Carol Duvall,” includes a “Rock, Paper, Scissors” chapter: Find a smooth stone, cut up some colorful paper or family pictures with scissors, and glue them on the rock.
Her show often featured guest crafters with a particular expertise — in stenciling, for instance, or coffee can creations.
“Her interview skills brought out the very best in every guest artist and designer that appeared on the show,” Cherryl Greene, her assistant and producer on many shows, said in a written tribute.
In the days before Etsy, Ms. Duvall’s HGTV show helped spread the gospel of crafting.
“What she’s done is bring crafting into the realm of the mainstream,” Don Meyer, a spokesman for the Hobby Industry Association, told The Stuart News of Florida in 2003 on the occasion of her HGTV show’s 1,000th episode.
In interviews over the years, Ms. Duvall told of fans who said they had built businesses that enabled them to feed their families based on craft-making they had learned from her show. She was especially moved, she said, by fans who told her that her shows had helped them while recovering from illness or surgery, or had simply given them the confidence that they could do something creative.
Ms. Duvall’s appeal was that viewers could identify with her, Ms. Doerr said, especially when she bungled something on the air and cracked her and her guest up.
“She was so approachable and natural,” Ms. Doerr said in a phone interview. “She would laugh at herself.”
Carol-Jean Reihmer was born on Jan. 10, 1926, in Milwaukee to Leo and Alice (Davies) Reihmer. When she was 11, the family moved to Grand Rapids.
She studied theater for a time at Michigan State University and remained interested in it; a 1953 article in The Lansing State Journal mentioned that she was appearing in a summer theater production of “The Glass Menagerie” in Grand Rapids.
By then she was already on local television. The new medium was something of a mystery back then, even in her own home.
“I was on the air a whole year before we even had a television set in our house,” she told The Free Press in the 1997 interview. “Nobody even knew what I did when I left the house.”
In 1972 she published her first book, “Wanna Make Something Out of It?”
Ms. Duvall’s marriage to Carl Duvall, in 1945, ended in divorce. Her son Michael died in 2011. She is survived by another son, Jack; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Though Ms. Duvall attracted fans whenever she made public appearances, on one occasion, at least, she was surprised by her own celebrity. In the summer of 1997 she was at a TV critics convention in Pasadena, Calif., when the actor Dennis Franz of “NYPD Blue,” then one of ABC’s top shows, came up and shook her hand. She thought he’d mistaken her for someone else and told him who she was.
“Oh, Carol, you don’t have to introduce yourself to me,” Mr. Franz said. “You’re in my kitchen every morning.”
Neil Genzlinger is a writer for the Obituaries desk. Previously he was a television, film and theater critic. More about Neil Genzlinger
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