March 2, 2021

Eleanor Mondale Poling, Ex-Vice President’s Daughter, Dies at 51

The cause was brain cancer, which she had been battling since 2005, her family said.

“She was a wonderful daughter,” Mr. Mondale said in a telephone interview from his daughter’s home, where relatives and friends had gathered. “A great spirit, a lot of courage. She fought this stuff almost six years now, and never a whimper.”

Eleanor Jane Mondale was born in Minneapolis on Jan. 19, 1960, the second of three children of Mr. Mondale and his wife, Joan. When she was 4, her father was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Hubert H. Humphrey, who had become President Lyndon B. Johnson’s vice president.

She graduated from St. Timothy’s School in Maryland and St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. In college and soon afterward, she spent time in Los Angeles auditioning for television and movie roles, landing small parts in several TV shows, including “Three’s Company” and “Dynasty.”

She also appeared on the campaign trail, stumping for her father in 1984 during his failed campaign to unseat President Ronald Reagan.

Ms. Mondale told Newsweek in 1985 that having a famous father was a double-edged sword in Hollywood. “The exposure didn’t hurt,” she said. “But being Walter Mondale’s daughter doesn’t make me a good actress. I have to prove myself five times over. I have to overcompensate.”

Ms. Mondale began her broadcasting career in the late 1980s as a radio D.J. in Chicago. In 1989, she became an entertainment reporter at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis. She later worked as a D.J. at WLOL-FM, a Minneapolis radio station, and as an on-air personality at the E! Online cable channel, ESPN and “This Morning” on CBS.

In 2005, she suffered two seizures during a camping trip and received a diagnosis of brain cancer. A year later, after receiving chemotherapy and radiation, she returned to the air as a host of a weekday morning radio show on WCCO-AM in Minneapolis.

In March 2009 she gave up those duties, announcing that the cancer had returned. She underwent surgery to remove a tumor that August.

Ms. Mondale found her way into the gossip columns at an early age. In 1977, when she was 17, she attracted the attention of photographers when she wore a tuxedo to an inaugural ball for President Jimmy Carter.

Over the years, she was romantically linked to various celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Warren Zevon and Don Henley, as well as the financier Ronald O. Perelman. She was married three times, first to Keith Van Horne, a former tackle for the Chicago Bears, in 1988; then to Greg Malban, a D.J. known as Greg Thunder, in 1991. In 2005 she married Chan Poling, a musician and composer, and took his last name.

The couple lived on a small farm, where they kept a menagerie of animals, including horses, dogs, cats, a cockatoo and chickens, according to a photo spread in a 2005 issue of Country Living magazine. The chickens were kept in a corner of the barn decorated with an antique chandelier. Ms. Poling called the coop “Cluckingham Palace.”

In addition to Mr. Poling and her parents, Ms. Poling is survived by her brothers, Ted Mondale, a former Minnesota state senator, and William H. Mondale, a former assistant attorney general of Minnesota.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 17, 2011

An earlier version of this article improperly identified the deceased as Eleanor Mondale, her name before she was married.

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