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Composer Mary Rodgers Guettel, Pillar of the Broadway Community, Dies at 83

Composer Mary Rodgers Guettel, Pillar of the Broadway Community, Dies at 83
Photo by: Bruce Glikas
Mary Rodgers Guettel
The daughter of the legendary composer Richard Rodgers and his wife Dorothy, she was 83.

Tony-nominated composer, Freaky Friday author, screenwriter and celebrated Broadway patron Mary Rodgers Guettel died at her home in Manhattan on June 26 after a long illness, according to her son Alec Guettel. Rodgers, who was the daughter of legendary composer Richard Rodgers and his wife Dorothy, was 83.

Though Rodgers had a vibrant career of her own, she was also well known as a director of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, which handles the work of her father, as well as his frequent collaborator Oscar Hammerstein, Irving Berlin and others. Her Broadway career began as composer of the 1959 musical Once Upon a Mattress, starring Carol Burnett. The musical was later broadcast on network television. A 1997 Broadway production, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Musical Revival. Her other Great White Way credits included Working (for which she received a Tony nod), The Madwoman of Central Park West, Hot Spot and From A to Z. Her musicals have been celebrated in the revue, Hey, Love.

Rodgers was also a successful children’s author, penning Freaky Friday, which she later adapted into the hit 1976 movie, and the books A Billion for Boris, Summer SwitchThe Devil and Max Devlin.

At the time of her death Rodgers was chairman emeritus and served on the board of the Juilliard School. She served on the boards of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival and the Dramatists Guild Council.

She was married to the late Henry Guettel, who died in October 2013 at the age of 85. Rodgers is survived by her sister, Linda Rodgers Emory, five children, and seven grandchildren.

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