Inquiring Minds: Purple People Eaters

Each week the staff at the Roseville Library answers more than 2,500 questions on every subject under the sun. Here’s one of the most interesting ones they’ve gotten lately.

Q. What were the Purple People Eaters?

A. Well, the original Purple People Eater was the subject of a nonsense song from 1958 about a space alien described as a “one-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater” who “sure looked strange to me.”

For true Minnesota sports lovers, however, the Purple People Eaters will always be named Page, Eller, Marshall and Larsen. They were the defensive line of the Minnesota Vikings football team in the late 1960s and early ‘70s. Their sobriquet was in honor of the color of their uniforms, although rumor has it that the players themselves didn’t much like the nickname.

Defensive ends Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and defensive tackle Gary Larsen played memorable football. Defensive tackle Alan Page didn’t do too badly either. In addition to being chosen MVP of 1971 and elected to the Football Hall of Fame, he had something of a post-football career, too, as an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1994 until his retirement in 2015.  (Internet resources.)


Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 651-724-6001 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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