Biography

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 312

Mary Rodgers, daughter of the composer Richard Rodgers, was born January 11, 1931, in New York City. She graduated from Brearley, a girls' private school in New York, then attended Wellesley College but left in her senior year to marry Julian Beaty. She was divorced from Beaty in 1957 and married Henry Guettel in 1961. She has five children. Rodgers achieved her first major success with the score for the Broadway musical Once Upon a Mattress, which captivated audiences, charmed the critics, and introduced a new star—Carol Burnett. Rodgers also wrote the score for The Mad Show, which appeared off-Broadway, and contributed to the book and album Free to Be . . . You and Me, featuring Mario Thomas. In addition, she worked on a number of children's shows, including a long stint with Leonard Bernstein for the young people's concerts of the New York Philharmonic.

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In the early 1970s, encouraged by the reception of her first work for children, The Rotten Book (1969), Rodgers continued with two new ventures. Along with her mother, Dorothy Rodgers, she began a column in McCall's magazine, "Of Two Minds," in which they gave alternating (and often very different) answers to readers' questions much as they had done in their book A Word to the Wives (1970). Her second new venture was Freaky Friday, a fantasy novel intended for adolescent readers. Freaky Friday was an American Library Association (ALA) Notable Children's Book of 1972 and won the Christopher Award for 1973, as well as three awards voted on by young readers: the California Young Readers Medal (1977), the Nene Award (Hawaii, 1977), and the Georgia Children's Book Award (1978). A sequel, A Billion for Boris, appeared in 1974; it was an ALA Notable Children's Book and captured the Christopher Award.

Meanwhile, Rodgers had also become a screenwriter; she adapted Freaky Friday for the Walt Disney Studio in 1977. A third volume in the Andrews family comedy, Summer Switch, was published in 1982.

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