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Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (7) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 18 May 1902Mason City, Iowa, USA
Date of Death 15 June 1984Santa Monica, California, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameRobert Meredith Willson

Mini Bio (1)

Meredith Willson - musician, playwright and composer - was best known for the book, words, and music for The Music Man (1962). He wrote two other musical plays, including The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). Many of his songs are standards, including "You and I", "May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You", "It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas", "Seventy-six Trombones", and "Till There Was You", which was a surprising song choice for a hit record by The Beatles. Willson left Mason City, the setting for "The Music Man", in 1919 to attend Damrosch Institute (now Juilliard) in New York. He played flute and piccolo in John Philip Sousa's band from 1921 to 1923 and then joined the New York Philharmonic Orchestra from 1924 to 1929. In 1930 he got a job in radio in California. Radio was his primary source of income over the following twenty-five years. He also composed several orchestral works during the '30s and '40s, including symphonies for The Great Dictator (1940) and The Little Foxes (1941). In 1951 the stage producers Martin and Feuer proposed that Willson write a musical comedy about his Iowa boyhood. With his common touch, they said, it was sure to be a hit. After seven years, he finally got what turned out to be his masterpiece onto the stage. "The Music Man", which Willson said was "an Iowan's attempt to pay tribute to his home state", premiered on Broadway in 1957. Robert Preston recreated his most famous role and Willson's most famous character, that of Professor Harold Hill, in the film production of The Music Man (1962).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bob Shields <rshields@igc.apc.org>

Spouse (3)

Rosemary Sullivan (14 February 1968 - 15 June 1984) (his death)
Zarova, Ralina 'Rina (13 March 1948 - 6 December 1966) (her death)
Elizabeth Wilson (29 August 1920 - 5 March 1948) (divorced)

Trivia (7)

Musical director for NBC Radio's "The Big Show" (1950-1952).
Won Broadway's 1958 Tony Award for book, with collaborator Franklin Lacey, as well as music and lyrics of Best Musical winner "The Music Man."
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 885-887. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1982.
His second wife, nicknamed Reenie, was a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Took a commercial law class while in high school.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Radio at 6411 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

Personal Quotes (1)

. . .when you start a play and you type 'Act one, scene one, ' your writing is every bit as good as Arthur Miller or Eugene O'Neill or anyone. It's that fifth word where amateurs start to go wrong.

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