"The Music Man," written by Meredith Willson, featured a heroine named Marion Paroo, or "Marion the Librarian." Apparently, she was based on a real life medical librarian named Marion Seeley of Provo, Utah.

I can imagine Willson, the Iowa boy casting himself as Harold Hill, the traveling salesman and (pretended) "musician." (Willson was a real one.) And Willson was married three times, but never to "Marion."

So what made him cast "Marion the librarian" as his leading lady in the play (1957) that was later made into a film (1962)? Was she a (secret) mistress? Did he have a platonic "crush" on her? Did he owe her some emotional debt, perhaps because of her medical expertise?

  • Is this actually about a film or about a play? In the latter case I'm afraid this isn't really on-topic here.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 23:50
  • @NapoleonWilson: Both. Play (1957); film (1962), remade, 2003. Like Hello Dolly, Sound of Music, etc.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 23:52
  • However, it seems to be inherently about the very play and its creation, rather than any of its adaptations to screen.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 23:54
  • Internal rhyme scheme dictates that all librarians in musicals be named Marian or Darian. As Marian was (and is) a more common name, Marian the Librarian was born.
    – dbugger
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


I am writing on behalf of a movie critic, whom I contacted, because he had published several articles on "The Music Man."

The critic had visited Meredith Willson's boyhood home in Mason City (read River City), Iowa, and found that just across the street was, you guessed it, the library.

If you "personify" these buildings, then the library was the "girl next door." So Willson's visceral feelings may have been for the library, rather than the librarian. But he had to use a real life librarian he had met for this personification.

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