Broadway Legend Barbara Cook, the Original Marian the Librarian, Dies at 89

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Barbara Cook in 2014. Photo: Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images

Barbara Cook, a soprano who was known for originating the role of Marian Paroo (the Librarian) in The Music Man on Broadway and for her cabaret and concert performances, has died at 89.

Cook started her career with a series of ingenue roles on Broadway in the 1950s and ‘60s, including The Music Man, for which she won a Tony in 1958, She Loves Me, and Candide. By the 1970s, after Broadway roles dried up, Cook reinvented her career with a series of concerts and cabaret performances, first and foremost an appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1975, which, as the New York Times wrote at the time, was given to “an audience so enthusiastically responsive that she appears to have become an instant cult figure.”

Cook, who continued working up until her retirement earlier this year, built the rest of her career out of those concert and cabaret performances, becoming known for her range, her control, and her skill at musical interpretations. Cook owned standards like “Till There Was You,” “Ice Cream,” and the devilishly tricky “Glitter and Be Gay.”

Barbara Cook, the Original Marian the Librarian, Dies at 89