The Cutline

Marilyn Hagerty, 85-year-old Olive Garden reviewer, on Internet fame: ‘It’s overwhelming, wild, crazy’

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Cutline

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Hagerty (Grand Forks Herald)

Forget Linsanity. It's Marilyn Mania.

Marilyn Hagerty, an 85-year-old columnist from Grand Forks, N.D., has become an unlikely media sensation, after she published an earnest review of a local Olive Garden last week in the Grand Forks Herald, which went viral online.

It read like something out of The Onion. "The place is impressive," Hagerty wrote. "It's fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway."

The chicken Alfredo, she noted, "was warm and comforting on a cold day."

Hagerty, who was a guest of "CBS This Morning" on Saturday, appeared on "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Monday.

"It's overwhelming, it's wild, crazy," Hagerty told the actress Jane Lynch, Morgan's guest host. "It's all of that. It just seems like it's a dream. It doesn't seem like it's real. It seems like something that ... I'm going to wake up and this didn't really happen."

Hagerty's son James, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, informed her that the Olive Garden review had gone viral.

"I didn't really understand what that meant," Hagerty said on CNN. "So I asked him and he had to explain, 'Well, mother, it's like if you have a virus and you're sick,' and I said 'Oh, so that's what it is.' So whatever. It's fine with me."

"Some people pursue celebrity," James Hagerty wrote in a Wall Street Journal column about his mom. "Others stumble into it as they are rushing off to bridge club."

The "Today" show sent one of its correspondents, Kevin Tibbles, to Grand Forks to interview Hagerty—and take her out to the Olive Garden.

"We all have different ideas of what we want to do with our time," she said of her critics in the blogosphere. "I would rather play bridge or watch a basketball game than [blog.]"

Tibbles said she "demonstrated her technique of surreptitiously taking notes while dining and sometimes, shock, horror, she sneaks out with a menu."

"You do what you need to do," Hagerty said.

Hagerty has parlayed the new-found fame into a trip to New York, where she plans to file her column this week.

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