In her first public appearance in some time, Mary Rodgers, the famous author, lyricist and composer, literally opened up the book into her own life, sharing many tales of her years in the writing and musical theater world in front of an audience of fans Friday afternoon.
The esteemed author, best known for writing “Freaky Friday” the story of a mother and daughter who literally switch bodies for a day forcing both to learn of the other’s life, graciously accepted the Junior Friends of the Library’s invitation to join the community on the 40th anniversary of her book on this Friday the 13th.
Eager fans gave her a warm welcome filing into the in hopes of getting her autograph while also getting the chance to hear her speak about her days of writing books while raising five children, of screenwriting for Hollywood and being the daughter of a famous composer.
Rodgers has quite a list of accomplishments in the literary, film and musical theater world. She is still currently chairman of the board at the Julliard School. She not only wrote the book “Freaky Friday” but also the screenplay for the 1976 Disney film production which starred Jodie Foster.
As Rodgers read an excerpt from “Freaky Friday” introducing the character of Annabel, a 13-year-old girl who is angry with her strict mother, she was actually introducing the audience to herself.
Closing the book she looked up at the audience, smiled and said “Annabelle is me.”
“I was really an impossible child,” she laughed admitting that the characters in the book are very much herself and her own mother who was very strict.
The audience eagerly wanted to know everything about the book, the movies, and what growing up in the home of Richard Rodgers, of the American composer duo Rodgers & Hammerstein, was like.
Rodgers honestly answered every question in a fun and engaging way. The 81-year old even told the audience she still sees herself as a kid.
She shared tales of her days growing up, studying writing and composing during a time when it was not a common thing for women. She told the audience she wished she could have studied orchestra but that opportunity was not widely open to women back then.
When asked which film version of the book was her favorite, Rodgers admitted she prefers the most recent version, the one she didn’t even take part in writing. Although many elements of her story were changed in this version, she felt that it had the right spirit.
For the future writers in the audience, Rodgers shared a simple formula for getting started – begin with the basic idea and the message you want to say in the end.
Rodgers was presented with an honorary membership to the Junior Friends of the Library from Chairman Justin Watrel. Mayor Rose Heck presented her with a proclamation in recognition of all of her work.
Rodgers graciously signed copies of her book for each of the audience members.
She also left behind a strong message to those who love the literary world. When asked to autograph a special hard copy of “Freaky Friday” for the library’s display, she wrote "Keep reading. Keep writing. The world needs you.”