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Monday, June 19, 2023

Researching Mary Zimmerman Yet Again

It wouldn't be a year ending in 3 (like 2003 or 2013) without a note about Mary Zimerman. Zimerman was a poet, playwright, and a one-time resident of Wisconsin, where John Bellairs met her when he came to town for a friend's wedding. She reportedly was a big fan of all things purple. Bellairs was intrigued and inspired to create a similarly-named character, Mrs. Florence Zimermann.

We found an entry about a Mary buried in Sunland Cemetery on Find-a-Grave a decade ago, and now we're sure it's her, as evidenced by her obituary:
(SUN CITY) Mary H. Zimmerman, 68, who was graduated from the University of Chicago and obtained her master's degree from the University of Wisconsin, died Monday in Boswell Memorial Hospital. Mrs. Zimmerman, 9447 Newport Drive, who taught school for five years in Chicago, was a member of the Wisconsin Association of Retired Teachers, Wisconsin Historical Society, American University Women, Association of American Pen Women, was a Phi Beta Kappa and a Poet Laureate. A Chicago native, she came here in 1972 from Cleveland and was a member of the Catholic Church of St. Clement. Survivors include a daughter, Mrs. Mary Reilly of Houston; a brother, Francis J. Holoubek; and a sister, Mrs. Charlotte Wallace, both of Sun City; and four grandchildren. Mass will be at 11 a.m. today in Lundberg Sunland Cemetery. Burial will be in Sunland Cemetery [1].
We also found a 1951 article about a performance of "The Chocolate Milk Cow", featuring an allusive photograph of the author. We like to think her vest in the photograph is violet-colored. And the chair, for that matter.
Mrs. Mary H. Zimmerman, Whitewater, who wrote "The Chocolate Milk Cow," a full-length children's play which will have its premiere performance in Madison, hasn't stuck to playwriting alone for her avocation. ... The play will be presented by the Madison Theater Guild and the Wisconsin Idea Theater at 10 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Saturday in West high school auditorium. Mrs. Zimmerman, who is a former second-grade teacher in Chicago, has written shorter plays as well as stones and biographical sketches. A number of her copyrights have been published or are nearing publication stage. Her new three-act play was developed from a "made-up" story she used to tell in Chicago to amuse her pupils. She credits Edward L. Kamarck, director of the Wisconsin Rural Writers' and Prof. Robert Gard, of the Wisconsin Idea theater, with encouraging her to transform the story theme into drama form. Madison's east side youngsters will see the play at East high school March 3, and a special performance will be given at Bascom theater March 1.
In contrast, the woman who portrayed Florence Zimermann in the 2018 adaptation of The House with a Clock in its Walls - Cate Blanchett - was most recently seen dancing (in yellow) about crying in her latte.

[1] Arizona Republic (Jan. 9, 1974)
[2] Wisconsin State Journal (Feb. 23, 1951)

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