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the REAL Marian the Librarian

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the REAL Marian the Librarian#0
Posted: 9/22/06 at 2:16am
Hey guys -- thought you might enjoy this. The story comes from the Daily Herald, a small newspaper in Provo, Utah.

Thursday, September 21, 2006
Marian the Librarian character reflects who she was
HEIDI TOTH - Daily Herald

Almost no one knows who Marian Seeley is.

But ask about her alter ego, Marian the Librarian, and expect "Music Man" fans to start humming "Seventy-six Trombones" and maybe doing a little dance.

And this Friday in Provo, whether you know it or not, you will be celebrating the 86-year-old resident who inspired the heroine in Meredith Wilson's show "The Music Man," as the city has declared the day "Marian Seeley Day."

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a real celebrity with us tonight," Mayor Lewis Billings said Tuesday night after reading the proclamation.

The petite, gray-haired Southern California transplant, unhappy with the gray weather Wednesday, smiled as she talked about the events that landed her persona on Broadway. She and her husband, Frank Seeley, were in California during World War II; Frank and Wilson, close friends for years in New York, were both stationed with the Armed Forces Radio Service. She became good friends with Wilson, particularly after he found out her job -- medical records librarian.

"He just laughed," she said of Wilson. "He thought that was the funniest job in the world."

So funny, in fact, that every time Wilson saw Seeley he said, "There's Marian the librarian!" Her family continued to call her that as a joke, but when Wilson returned to New York they all moved on, and the nickname died off -- at least until 1962, when "The Music Man" hit Broadway, and after 1,375 shows "Marian the Librarian" was practically a household name. Since then the story has been acted out by hundreds of different groups, made into a movie and earned Seeley an entry into online encyclopedia Wikipedia for her part in it.

Her namesake isn't a carbon copy of her, Seeley said, but instead is more in tune with the average girl in the 1950s. It wasn't until she saw it for the umpteenth time a few years ago that she finally saw so much of herself in Marian Paroo, the librarian in River City, Iowa, who exposes a traveling salesman's scam before the two fall in love.

"It just dawned on me that yes, that's who I was," she said. "I really hadn't thought about it in a long time."

The beauty of Marian the Librarian, though, is that actresses of many ages can play her, said Sharilyn Grooms, who is playing Marian in the Center Street Theatre's production of "The Music Man." She'll be performing for the original Marian on Friday.

"It's a lot of fun to think that there's someone who actually is going to be watching and wondering, thinking of her own life at the same time," Grooms said.

Seeley's excited to attend the show and watch a piece of her history, she said; she also went to the Brigham Young University production a few years ago and got a standing ovation. As for the rest of it -- the day, the proclamation, the recognition in front of the city -- it's a little overdone, she said.

"That'll impress my children," she said, gesturing to the proclamation sitting on her coffee table.

Heidi Toth can be reached at 344-2543 or
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page C1.
"Champagne makes me drowsy!"


As we stumble along on life's funny journey. As we stumble along into the blue. We look here and we look there, seeking answers anywhere. Never sure of where to turn or what to do.

Still we bumble our way through life's crazy labyrinth. Barely knowing left from right nor right from wrong. And the best that we can do is hope a blue bird, will sing his song as we stumble along.
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Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
re: the REAL Marian the Librarian#1
Posted: 9/22/06 at 3:06pm
That's so cute! I had no idea that character was based on a real person
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Leading Actor
Leading Actor
re: the REAL Marian the Librarian#2
Posted: 9/22/06 at 3:08pm
Since the date for the opening of "The Music Man" is the film and not the show, I find a lot of this suspect. In Meredith Willson's book about the creation of "The Music Man," he makes it very clear that Marian is based on his mother.
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Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
re: the REAL Marian the Librarian#3
Posted: 9/22/06 at 3:18pm
Maybe the character, but it's entirely possible that he borrowed the name.

What is so suspect?
"If you are going to do something, do it well. And leave something witchy." -Charlie Manson