Marian Rees
Marian Rees

September 21, 2018

A highly accomplished Carroll High School alum earned a final starring turn Monday night on national television — although few of her contemporaries were around to catch the honor.

The Emmy Awards recognized the late Marian Rees, an 11-time winner of that trophy, and the valedictorian of the CHS Class of 1946, in the memorial scroll the awards show runs annually to honor prominent figures in the TV industry who have died in the last year.

Rees, who captured 38 Emmy nominations and a raft of other high-profile entertainment awards during a half century in the television business, died at age 90 on Sunday, Aug. 26, on Bainbridge Island, Washington, outside of Seattle, where she had been living, officials with the Cook Family Funeral Home in that region confirmed to the Daily Times Herald.

The Producers Guild of America, of which Rees was a one-time vice president, released information on her death as well, calling her “one of its most revered members” and “one of the great producers of long-form television.”

According to the Producers Guild, a memorial service will be held Saturday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m. at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, near Rees’s home on Bainbridge Island. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Eagle Harbor Church or the University of Iowa Foundation.

The Daily Times Herald conducted several interviews with Rees in the late 1990s through 2000 as she was recognized at the Donna Reed Festival in Denison — and toured Iowa to promote two films she produced, “Ruby Bridges,” which aired as the ABC Sunday night movie in 1998, and “Cora Unashamed,” a PBS Masterpiece Theater production.

“Though I live in Studio City, this is the place I call home,” Rees said in one interview in Carroll with this newspaper.

Following her graduation from the University of Iowa, Rees packed up and headed for New York City with no job lined up.

She thought her commitment to the United Nations would be enough to get her in the door.

It was.

But her lack of foreign-language skills dashed any hopes for work at the United Nations.

She soon wound up back in Iowa before trying to make her way in the world as a social worker in California.

While on the West Coast, she landed a job as a receptionist for NBC Television so she could earn money to return home for her brother’s wedding.

One job led to another, and as the years passed, Rees found that she had built a show-business career.

In the 1960s, Rees served as an associate producer for “All in the Family” and “Sanford and Son.”

She formed Marian Rees & Associates in 1981 and produced dozens of TV movies.

Rees credited part of her success to lessons learned as the summer manager of the old outdoor pool in Carroll, the one located where the current Des Moines Area Community College sits.

Rees worked as a lifeguard at the pool and later became the manager on breaks from college.

According to the Donna Reed Foundation, besides the Emmys, Rees won two Golden Globes, six Christopher Awards, the Humanitas prize, a Peabody — and more.

Her films include “Miss Rose White” and “Love Is Never Silent,” both of which won an Emmy for Best Television Motion Picture.

Members of Rees’ family could not be reached for comment as of press time today.

Born in Le Mars, Iowa, she was the daughter of the late Robert L. and Clarissa (Burkett) Rees.