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Meredith Willson
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    (May 18, 1902-June 15, 1984)
    Born in Mason City, Iowa
    Birth name was Robert Meredith Willson
    Flautist with John Philip Sousa's band (1921-23) and the New York Philharmonic (1924-29)
    Bandleader and recurring character on George Burns and Gracie Allen's radio show
    Wrote the scores for 'The Great Dictator' (1940) and 'The Little Foxes' (1941)
    Wrote music and lyrics for the Broadway musicals 'The Music Man' (1957), 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' (1960) and 'Here's Love' (1963)
    Also wrote the songs 'You And I,' 'I See the Moon,' 'May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You,' 'It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas' and fight songs for the University of Iowa and Iowa State
    Posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1987)
    Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1982)
    It is easy to miss the extra 'l' in his last name.
    He recorded an album about writing 'The Music Man.'
    He wrote a fourth musical, '1491' about Columbus, that never made it to Broadway.
    He wrote a theme song for the Ford administration's 'Whip Inflation Now' campaign, but it was turned down.
    He worked as a musical director for Armed Forces Radio during World War II.
    'The Music Man' won the Tony for Best Musical and the first Grammy for Best Original Cast Album.
    His alma mater, Juilliard, named its first residence hall after him.
    He said, '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.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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