Music: Durable Iowa Boy

The message at the Manhattan radio studio simply asked its musical director to call a Brooklyn telephone number—no name given. When he called, a woman's voice asked, "Is this Meredith Willson?" Assured that it was, the woman said reverently, "May the good Lord bless and keep you," and then hung up.

Ever since Iowa-born Meredith Willson, 49, wrote May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You as a closing number ("something benedictory") for Tallulah Bankhead's The Big Show last fall, he has been flooded with up to 2,000 fan letters a week. Once when...

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