Mary Rodgers, author of Freaky Friday and its sequels, A Billion For Boris and Summer Switch, died yesterday at the age of 83.
Although Rodgers was known in part because of two screen adaptations of her 1972 book, Freaky Friday, she also had a long history with musical theater. Her father, composer Richard Rodgers, was one half of the Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration (Oklahoma!, The King And I), but Mary was determined to built her own legacy: In a 1958 interview with The New York Times, she said, “As a famous man’s daughter, I always had an urgent, rebellious desire to retain my own identity at any cost.” She went on to compose the music—in only three weeks—for Once Upon A Mattress, which launched Carol Burnett’s career in 1959.
Rodgers studied music at Wellesley, although the college didn’t even teach composition at the time—Rodgers told The Juilliard Journal in 2012 that “they obviously didn’t think women should or could write music”—and Rodgers described herself as only a moderately good pianist (though she went on to chair Juilliard’s board from 1994 to 2001).
Freaky Friday tells the story of Annabel Andrews and her mother, who wake up one Friday in each other’s bodies. The book saw two screen adaptations, one in 1976 with Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris, and one in 2003 with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan.