Eleanor Mondale Poling Dies At 51

SLIDESHOW: Remembering Eleanor

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Eleanor Mondale Poling, daughter of former Vice President Walter Mondale and a former WCCO Radio show host and WCCO-TV reporter, died early Saturday morning at age 51.

Poling had been battling brain cancer since 2005.

Poling is the daughter of former Vice President Walter Mondale and Joan Mondale. She is survived by her husband, Chan Poling, her parents and her two brothers, former Minnesota Sen. Ted Mondale and William Mondale.

Walter Mondale issued a statement to friends that read: “Joan and I must report that our wonderful daughter, Eleanor Mondale Poling, after her long and gutsy battle against cancer, went up to heaven last night to be with her angel. Thank you for all your friendship. She loved you. You will hear more about plans to celebrate her life in a short period but we wanted you to know as quickly as possible. We send our love.”

Poling attended St. Timothy’s Boarding School outside Baltimore, Md., and graduated from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. After graduation, she went to Hollywood to begin her career.

She started her television career at WCCO-TV in the 1980s. She then worked for the E! Online cable channel, hosting shows including “Wild On” and “E! News Live.”

Poling started as an aspiring actress, with bit parts in TV’s “Three’s Company” and “Dynasty.” She also attracted a fair amount of press coverage on her own. Her dalliance with the late rock musician Warren Zevon was detailed in “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon,” a posthumous biography published by Zevon’s ex-wife in 2007.

In 1998, CBS News reported that Poling was one of four women Monica Lewinsky expressed resentment toward in taped conversations because of attention President Bill Clinton paid to them. (Mondale issued a statement saying her relationship with the president and his wife, Hillary, was “purely a friendship.”)

Poling was involved in her father’s 1984 presidential campaign, and made calls in 2002 in her father’s last campaign, when the former vice president took the ballot slot of Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash just days before the election.

In 2002, Poling started working as a reporter for ESPN, covering horse racing events. She also covered the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for ESPN2.

After working for ESPN, Mondale reported on auto shows around the world for the Speed Channel before moving to CBS and working on the program “This Morning.”

In June 2005, Poling married Minneapolis musician Chan Poling, of the group the Suburbs. Mondale and her husband lived on a small farm in Prior Lake, Minn., where they raised miniature horses.

In the summer of 2005, Poling was diagnosed with brain cancer after a bout of seizures. She was in remission by the summer of 2006 and she moved back home to Minnesota and joined Susie Jones on WCCO Radio, co-hosting the “Mondale and Jones” program from 9 a.m. to noon.

“I was terrified of her at first, she was so big, but you talked to her for a minute and you realized she was just as regular as you could expect,” Jones said. “She was uncanny, she was unpredictable. She sparkled. She was gorgeous inside and out. And I’m going to miss her; I’m going to miss her so much.”

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Susie Jones Reports

Poling’s cancer returned in 2008 and again in 2009. She had been off the air since March 19, 2009, when she announced that her brain cancer had returned a second time. She had surgery to remove the tumor Aug. 12, 2009, at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a posting on her CaringBridge website declared the surgery a success.

“She would send me texts about how her (cancer) scan was. She had it every six weeks, and she would report how it was and how big it was. She hated that part,” said Jones, who visited Mondale on Thursday to say goodbye. “She fought very hard. She did not want to die. She had a lot of dignity in the end, and died quietly and beautifully.”

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he remembers Poling as a shy teenager who transformed into an accomplished woman.

The governor released a statement on Saturday, saying, “From the shy teenager I first met, Eleanor transformed — and transcended! — into a very beautiful, poised, multi-talented, and accomplished woman. She loved her family, friends, and animals, as she loved life. She battled her cancer heroically and endured its agonies courageously. I extend my deepest condolences to her family, who loved her so dearly.”

Poling was married twice before she married Poling, first to Chicago Bears offensive lineman Keith Van Horne, and then to fellow DJ Greg Thunder.

Memorial arrangements have not yet been announced.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • kristy

    Rest in peace, Eleanor. You gave it your all and did it with dignity and no whining. Your positive outlook was inspirational for all people with illnesses—I know it helped you a lot.

  • Steve

    Rest In Peace Dear Eleanor. You gave it the good fight.

    • Thomas

      And you feel a page of condolence is the best place for this kind of rhetoric? Do you plan on attending her funeral so that you can relay the same message to her family in person? You need serious help.

      Be at peace, Eleanor.

  • Pate

    My condolences to the Mondale family.RIP,Eleanor.You fought your illness with bravery and strength.

  • Paul Kuhlmann

    My condolences to the family Walter I’m sorry You always fought for the people and the planet I have nothing but respect for you and grieve with you for the bright star that was your daughter May she rest in peace

  • Kristin

    I can’t emphasize how much this affects me! For whatever reason, I connected with her on ‘CCO more than anyone else I have ever listened to. Rest in peace, beautiful lady, and know that you had an amazing impact on the world.

  • St Paul

    what a wonderful human being! She will be remembered!! My condolences to the family. I wish I could say “rest in peace” but I’m sure she will be busy up there as well!!

  • Joe

    Condolences to the family. The Mondale family is one of our greatest assets in Minnesota and the loss will be felt.

    • Playjojo

      Question quietly, not here.

      • borntobepolitical

        Really, there is a time and place for everything

        Rest in peace Elenore and my prayers and best wishes to her family in this time of profound grief for what appears to have been a great lady.

  • RetroDude

    Eleanor, I always enjoyed listening to you and Suzy on ‘CCO. Leaving us at 51 is far too young. We will miss you.

  • Heidi

    to her heartbroken family and husband: we’ll never forget your amazing daughter. rest in peace, Eleanor.

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  • borntobepolitical

    God bless, rest in peace.

  • Carlotta

    My condolences to the Mondale family and to Eleanor’s friends and fans. Eleanor fought her battle with dignity and grace; not an easy thing when you are a public figure.

  • Julie

    I will always remember Eleanor as Eleanor and Susie. I enjoyed the two together so much on my way to work as the WCCO team. They were so engaging and drew their audience right into the conversation. So truly sorry!!!

  • Tom

    I am a Republican, but as John Kennedy said, one thing we share is that we are all mortal. So it is always sad when someone too young dies. Mr. Mondale, I doubt you will read this, but if you do please know that my deepest sympathies are with you at this time. I am terribly sorry for your loss.

  • George Powell

    I liked her even though I’m a conservative. She was on Howard Stern’s show a lot and she had a great sense of humor. I’m sure Howard will have something nice to say on Monday, unless he’s on vacation for the 150th day this year.

  • Ray

    Really??? Get a life and go do some good in this world.
    You are loved Eleanor. Rest now.

  • Ice Pony Girl

    Dear Elenore,
    I so enjoyed your company, your laughter, love for life, and of course, your mini horses.

    Reiki and love sent to Chan, and your family.

    Rock On Girl!! May you be greeted in heaven by a herd of beautiful horses, ponies and minis.


  • hushupp

    My prayers are with the Mondale family. So hard for parnnts to lose a child. Bless you, Eleanor and may you rest in God’s hands.

  • Paul

    As one who is a year and a half into a similar war, I will remember, learn, pray, love…and fight.

  • Jean

    My condolences go to the Mondale and Poling families. Look at the wonderful life that Eleanor lived!

  • SandyLester

    Very sad for the family as well as the Kennedy family who daughter also died today at 51. No parent should have to out live their child.

  • MrBuddwing

    I can remember when her father, Walter Mondale, was named Jimmy Carter’s running mate in 1976, the TV showed the Mondale children – a bunch of kids back then – out on the front lawn of the Mondale house. And there was Eleanor, a teenager, casually dressed like other girls her age. So young. And now, 35 years later, gone too soon.


  • SOS

    Such a brilliant, brilliant light – it was hard watching her go through cancer, time and time again, every time being less certain that she’d beat it. Death gets us all in the end – we’ll remember you. We’ll remember.

  • Cherish the memories

    No matter the age there is nothing more painful than to lose a daughter. I will always cherish the CCO moments of listening to Eleanor and Suzie. The chemistry between these two cannot be replaced. My condolences go out to the Mondale family for your loss. Remember the beautiful memories Eleanor brought into your lives. Honor Eleanor’s memory by carrying on the things she believed in. She will be missed.

  • Michael Smith

    I did not vote for Mondale, but I respected him and his family. I remember being so impressed by Eleanor when I first saw her–how beautiful and poised she was! I have not really thought of her in years. I don’t watch TV anymore so I did not know about her television career. But she was truly lovely–the kind of young woman any man would be proud to have for a daughter. My heart goes out to the Mondales. May you find peace.

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