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Norwalk native and 'Romper Room' legend 'Miss Barbara' dies

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 1:16 PM

A Norwalk native who gained fame as "Miss Barbara" on the television show "Romper Room" has died.

Barbara R. (Bowen) Plummer, 80, of South Euclid, died Saturday after a lengthy illness of pneumonia and complications in her lungs.

She was born Feb. 13, 1930 in Norwalk, where she graduated from Norwalk High School in 1948. She majored in political science at Wellesley College. She got married during her junior year of a college, and then earned her degree in 1952.

Her husband, Gordon, was working in southern Massachusetts and they eventually moved to Wooster, Mass. until they returned to Cleveland in 1957. The following year, she became known as "Miss Barbara" on the WEWS television show "Romper Room."

Romper Room was a syndicated show created by Nancy and Bert Claster who wanted a kindergarten show on television. It started in Baltimore and did so well that it was quickly syndicated. At one time the show was in 105 markets throughout the world, including Japan and Australia.

Although each market had their own version of Miss Barbara, they all had some traits in common. Obviously they had to like children, but they also had to have a warm personality and be able to adapt to whatever a live show with children might bring.

Each day, Romper Room began with this saying: "Pop goes the weasel, and the Jack-in-the-box jumps out of his house, and that means it's time for the Romper Room School."

The children who joined her in Romper Room each week were chosen out of the huge stacks of requests sent in weekly. Show-and-tell, physical activity ranging from playtime to exercise and the manners-teaching Mr. Do-Bee were popular segments of the show.

And anyone who watched Romper Room surely remembers the Magic Mirror.

Miss Barbara would recite her famous saying "Romper, bomper, stomper, boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me do. Magic Mirror, tell me today. Did all my friends have fun today? Did all my friends have fun with me today?" and then acknowledge children with special days or illnesses.

During her life, Plummer also volunteered in a number of charitable organizations which included the Cleveland Play House, Children's Guild, The Western Reserve Historical Society, Goodwill Industries and St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Survivors include her husband, Gordon C. Plummer of South Euclid; a daughter and son-in-law, Kathryn Plummer and Scott Collins of Lyndhurst; a son and daughter-in-law, Stephen and Margaret "Peggy" Plummer of Astor, Fla.; two grandchildren; and a brother and sister-in-law, Stephen and Marilyn Bowen of Huron.

Calling hours are from 5 to 7 tonight at Brown-Forward funeral home, 17022 Chagrin Blvd., Shaker Heights. Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m. Friday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2747 Fairmount Blvd., Cleveland Heights.

Memorial gifts may be sent in her name to the American Cancer Society, 10501 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH 44106; Children's Guild, in care of Julie Corcoran, 519 Spicebush Lane, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023 or The Western Reserve Historical Society, 10825 East Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44106.

To read a feature about Plummer and see additional pictures, click this link to a Cleveland Seniors story.

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