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A.L.’s hometown sweetheart portrays 20th century musician

Marion Ross portrays Sadie Bliss Cox during Echoes from the Past: A Journey into History Wednesday at the Freeborn County Historical Museum. - Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Marion Ross portrays Sadie Bliss Cox during Echoes from the Past: A Journey into History Wednesday at the Freeborn County Historical Museum. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Nationally known actress and Albert Lea native Marion Ross performed Wednesday night in front of a packed room at the Freeborn County Historical Museum.

Ross played the part of Sadie Bliss Cox, an early 20th century musician and piano teacher from Freeborn County in the museum’s annual Echoes from the Past: A Journey into History.

Featuring gray, curly hair and a friendly demeanor, Ross, 86, portrayed Cox from a funny, yet informative historical perspective. She elicited laughter from the audience throughout her performance and displayed the acting ability that has been her claim to fame.

She gave a detailed description of Cox. Ross portrayed Cox on her educational journey at Oberlin (Ohio) College, Chicago Musical College and Lake Forest University in Illinois.

Ross was pleased she could perform in her hometown.

“It’s beyond any dream that I ever had that I would be able to come to my hometown where I walked across the icy lake.” Ross said. “My friends are here, it’s great.

“I was such a good mother on Happy Days,” she said. “I got how to portray my role from where I came from in Albert Lea. That’s where I got the role from, growing up around such wonderful people.”

She is best known for playing the role of Marion Cunningham on “Happy Days,” which aired from 1974 to 1984. She received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her role in the show.

She has a career that spans decades in Broadway, movies and television. She has played Drew Carey’s mother on “The Drew Carey Show,” the matriarch on “Gilmore Girls” and the mother-in-law on “That 70s Show.”

During the event, local re-enactors shared the lives of people who lived in Freeborn County in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Albert Lea native Elizabeth Harty played the role of Martha Robson Gibbs, a Freeborn County woman who lived from 1829 to 1920.

Dylan Kaercher played the role of Anders N. Teslow, a Freeborn County man who was born in Hadeland, Norway. Teslow and his family came to America from Norway in about 1862 by way of Quebec. Teslow first settled in Decorah, Iowa, and moved to Freeborn County in 1865.

Gary Schindler, dean of student affairs at Riverland Community College, played Charles A. Briggs. Schindler played the role of Briggs while Briggs was in the drug store business. He elicited laughter from the audience when he described the pseudo-medicine of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Briggs’ son Rollin was reportedly the first football player in southern Minnesota or northern Iowa to use the forward pass in the early 20th century.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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