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Rodgers, Mary


RODGERS, MARY , U.S. composer and author (1931– ). Born in New York, the daughter of the composer Richard *Rodgers, she studied music at the Mannes College of Music in New York and at Wellesley College. She was married in 1951 and had three children before divorcing in 1957. Her 1959 stage musical, Once Upon a Mattress, was a huge hit in New York and helped launch the career of Carol Burnett, the comic actress. In 1961 Rodgers married a motion picture executive, Henry Guettel, and had two sons, one of whom, Adam, is a successful composer for the musical theater. Rodgers wrote for both the stage and the movies. Her children's book, Freaky Friday, was one of the most successful children's books from the 1950s through the beginning of the 21st century, and Rodgers wrote the screenplay for the film version, which was also a major success. Rodgers also wrote lyrics, music scores and playscripts. Her books for children frequently center on humorous and fantastic plots. Both Freaky Friday and Billions for Boris, a follow-up, involve adolescents and their relationships with adults. Often, the young people in her books assume more responsibility than the adults and the children have to cope with a parent's benign neglect. Rodgers also compiled the popular album Free to Be You and Me.

dorothy feiner rodgers (1909–1992), the wife of Richard Rodgers and the mother of Mary, came from an upper-middle-class Jewish background. A magazine writer and author of books on home decoration, Dorothy Rodgers had a background in the arts and conceived the permanent exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York. She invented two basic household items. An avid seamstress, Rodgers sometimes sewed her husband's silk shirts. She found pattern stays made of tissue to be unsatisfactory. So she invented a pattern stay made of plastic that became a commercial success under the name Basic Try-On Dress Patterns. Her more famous invention was the Jonny Mop, a small mop to clean toilets with a disposable sponge at the "business end." Rodgers, considered the financial brains in the family, won a suit for patent infringement against Johnson and Johnson, which tried to market a similar mop. Rodgers turned over the royalties to her daughters.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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