Marian and Vivian Brown
The Brown twins photographed by Christopher Michel
January 25, 1927|
Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||November 20, 2014
San Mateo, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress, retired bank worker|
January 25, 1927|
Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||January 9, 2013
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress, retired legal secretary|
Marian (January 25, 1927 – November 20, 2014) and Vivian Brown (January 25, 1927 – January 9, 2013) were American identical twins and celebrity icons of San Francisco. Known as the San Francisco Twins, they were renowned for their appearance in media with signature identically bright snappy outfits and hats atop meticulously coiffed hair. They were voted second as San Francisco's "Best Local Character" in 2000. They would often eat dinner at one of the front tables at Uncle Vito's restaurant, just below the crest of Nob Hill, San Francisco.
Marian and Vivian were petite at 5 feet 1 inch (1.55 m) tall, and weighing 98 pounds (44 kg) each. They were always seen together. They dressed alike, walked in lockstep and ate at the same speed, even lifting their forks in unison. They never broke character until Vivian became forgetful due to Alzheimer's disease. After a slip and fall in the summer of 2012, Vivian ended up in San Francisco's Davies Medical Center and her condition continued to deteriorate. In 2012, the sisters faced financial problems after Vivian required costly care following her fall. San Franciscans and charities united to help keep the sisters together.
Vivian died on January 9, 2013, aged 85, from Alzheimer's disease at the Rhoda Goldman Plaza assisted living center in the Western Addition of San Francisco. Marian died on November 20, 2014, aged 87.
Vivian and Marian were born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, just eight minutes apart. Vivian was the elder. They grew up in Mattawan, Michigan, where they attended Mattawan High School and in 1945 graduated as co-valedictorians, giving the valedictory speech together. They went on to earn matching degrees in business education from Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo.
At the age of 43, the Browns left Michigan for San Francisco in 1970 with the intent of escaping hot summers and the long cold winter months. After they arrived in San Francisco, Vivian became a legal secretary and Marian worked at a bank.
For more than 40 years, the Brown twins were an entertainment fixture of the San Francisco social scene. They appeared in public in identical outfits, becoming neighborhood celebrities. They gained wide exposure in a 1988 Reebok advertisement, which led to appearances in talk shows and modeling in advertisements. They appeared on television with Richard Simmons, Tom Snyder and Vicki Lawrence. They were featured in over 25 television advertisements over the years. Corporate advertisements in which they appeared included IBM, San Francisco Chronicle, Pay Less, Virgin Atlantic, Joe Boxer, Macy's, AT&T, Dell Computers, and Apple Inc. The Brown Twins appear in an establishing shot in the film 9 to 5, ostensibly set in Los Angeles. While in Kalamazoo, the twins were frequently seen on the downtown Kalamazoo Mall always dressed identically from head to toe.
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- Kepka, Mike (October 16, 2011). "Marian and Vivian Brown, the twins of Nob Hill". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
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- Romney, Lee (January 11, 2013). "S.F. mourns a twin with a passion for fashion". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- "The Brown Twins of San Francisco: A tribute to the great Vivian Brown". Daily Kos. January 12, 2013.