Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Rose Marie!

It’s been one very long performance and the dating prospects are not looking any better at 90!
Rose Marie

Rose Marie launched into show biz at the tender age of three on vaudeville circuit as BABY Rose Marie, starred in early talkies and even headlined the notorious Las Vegas Flamingo Club owned by gangster Bugsy Siegel before becoming a household name with the premiere of the Dick Van Dyke Show in 1961. Check out her NEW WEBSITE!

Rose Marie remains the only star to appear on every single incarnation of Hollywood Squares and is still making with the snappy one-liners today.
Rose Marie infused the role with her own larger-than-life personality and flair for comic timing, song, and dance, earning three Emmy nominations and an entertainment legacy that goes far beyond re-run appearances on Nick at Nite. A true entertainment icon is turning 90 years old today. I have to say that is just a number.I was thrilled when her publicist, Harlan Boll, set it up. Rose Marie and I actually met a few years ago at a special screening of Carol Channing: Larger Than Life at the Paley Center in New York. It was a thrill for me to meet her due to the fact that she is one of those iconic people who have always been a part of my life. MY first introduction to Rose Marie was as Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show. The Dick Van Dyke Show and I were both born in 1961! Later, I used to love Rose Marie on The Doris Day Show. It was later in life that I found out that Rose Marie had such a night club career AND that she had an incredible career as a child entertainer.
No Shirley Temple, she! She had such an incredible person that she was constantly accused of being a "midget". I am not being politically incorrect; that was the term used at the time.
 At a very young age, she was sitting on the laps of mobsters in Chicago, she was opening for Milton Berle, and the world was at her feet.I began the interview by going back to the beginning. I am very familiar with her early years. Her autobiography, aptly titled Hold The Roses, goes into great detail about those years. I asked Rose Marie what inspired her to stay in the business as she got older.

"I never thought about it! I just ran from one thing to another." She started when she was three. She was running around the house mimicking others and what she heard on the radio. Her mother would take her to Vaudeville shows on Fourteenth Street in New York City and she would come home and mimic what she saw. In those days, Fourteenth Street in New York was very much what Forty Second Street is of today.  The neighbors and everybody who saw her raved about it. She would be playing the ukelele and singing What Can I Say, Dear...After I Say I'm Sorry? How could she lose? She was entered into a talent contest won the contest and twenty dollars and she was booked to do the circuit. Her father traveled around the country with her.

She was on stage and someone threw a bouquet of roses and the audience was screaming, "Bring the kid back! We want the kid to sing!" Baby Rose Marie said, "Hold the roses! I've got to take my bow!"
There was an adult voice coming out of that child!

She was home on stage. She just loved to do it and before she knew it, she was in Vaudeville. She was headlining and had her own radio show when she was five years old.
She was signed to NBC and NBC was affiliated with RKO and she was put on a tour of the RKO Orpheum Theatres to prove that she was a child. There were people in the press saying that she was not a child, she was a forty five year old midget! "No child sings like that!"
When she was doing the Vaudeville circuit, she did her radio program from each town she played.
When she was a little older, she got another radio program fifteen minutes every Sunday at 12:15pm. All she needed was an outfit and a piano player. She sang three or four songs and that was it. She did about a year or two of that. She went from that to yet another radio program. By this time, she was thirteen or fourteen. She automatically had an act and started to play nightclubs. Nightclubs in those days were really swank places. They aren't what they supposedly are today. All the big stars played them: Sophie Tucker being a major name and Rose Marie was part of all that!
Danny Thomas came in to see her once from Chicago. He had gotten big on the nightclub circuit. He was going to be playing the Martinique in New York and he asked her to open for him. They became very good friends and she was doing the next phase of her life, doing nightclubs.Opening for Danny Thomas would work in her favor many years later.
She went from the Copacabana in New York, to the Palmer House in Chicago, to Chez Paree  and eventually ended up in California where she got married. She was married to trumpeter Bobby Guy (from 1946 until his death in 1964). He was Bing Crosby's first trumpet player. He also played with Kay Kyser. He was the top guy in town.He was also the best husband according to Rose Marie. He didn't drink or smoke. His biggest vices were chocolate cake and Rose Marie. He was a golfer and a bowler and was very healthy at the time of his death. He got sick suddenly and went.

When Bobby came out of the army, they moved to California. She got booked at the hottest nightclub in town called Slapsie Maxie's. Slapsie Maxie's was named after an American boxer, actor, and television personality. Someone from the Hollywood Reporter came to see her and told her she should play Las Vegas to do an act. Her first question was "What is a Vegas?" At that time, Las Vegas was just a desert "town". There was NOTHING there!
A new venue was opening with Jimmy Durante and Xavier Cugat.Rose Marie knew Jimmy very well. She is not an impersonator, but she did a dead on Jimmy! It was a side thing she used to do in her act to the point where everybody told her she had to do more Durante. She wound up doing songs associated with Durante. Durante even wanted her to do more. Durante taught her the various inflections. His wife Marge always said Rose Marie did the best Durante. To appear with Jimmy was wonderful. She agreed to go. At that time, Vegas was sand. There were a couple of "cowboy" type of hotels. (Listen to Jimmy Durante and Rose Marie on the radio HERE.)
They opened at the Flamingo which was just starting to build. This was being run by Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. The mob gave him two million dollars. He was not a good business man. On December 26, 1946, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Siegel opened The Pink Flamingo Hotel and Casino at a total cost of $6 million. The 40-acre facility wasn't complete and Siegel was hoping to raise some revenue with the grand opening. A silent partner came in to help finish the hotel.
The original hotel housed a dining room, a coffee shop, and a casino. That was it! It was like Monte Carlo but it was so out of place in the desert. Everybody was avoiding it. Bugsie said, Don't worry about it. It will be a success."  When they opened, every major star in Hollywood showed up. Robert Taylor, Barbra Stanwyck, Clark Gable, Lana Turner were all there! It was a great showAt the end, Rose Marie did a bit with Durante and the audience went crazy. The second night, they all came back again. The third night, they all went back to Hollywood and they got the locals...nine of them. Rose Marie believes that is where the saying "Come as you are" began.
Rose Marie played there for four weeks.They averaged between nine and ten people per show. She remembers that time, however, fondly. Siegel was absolutely wonderful to her.Virginia Hill told Rose Marie that she had a great act, her gowns were beautiful, but that she needed to lose weight. Rose Marie told her she was twenty weeks pregnant. Virginia said she didn't know. Rose Marie said nobody knows! Virginia told Rose Marie that she was going to Paris and asked Rose Marie if there was anything she would like brought back. Rose Marie said, "Please bring back the most beautiful Christening dress you have ever seen." She did and Rose Marie still has it.
She became very good friends with Bugsie Siegel and Virginia Hill.
One afternoon, Rose Marie was sitting in the coffee shop with the banker for the show and a man came in to distribute the checks. He gave everybody their checks and Rose Marie's check was short eleven dollars. She was making twenty-five hundred then. Rose Marie looked at the man and said, "There's eleven dollars missing." The banker said, "Forget it. Don't pursue this." Rose Marie said, "I want to know where that eleven dollars is." Rose Marie said, "I don't mean to be rude, but you took eleven dollars out of my check." She went on to say, "If you need eleven dollars, I'll give it to you, but don't take it out of my check." The banker said, "I'll find out about it. Don't worry about it."
Rose Marie, 1970
When the guy left, the banker said, Do you know who that was? THAT was Bugsie Siegel!" Rose Marie said you could have picked her up in an envelope! Nobody talked like that to him. Rose Marie did! He came back with the eleven dollars. What had happened is that they had come in the night before and stayed at the El Rancho Hotel because there were no rooms at The Flamingo.Rose Marie's room was eleven dollars and they had deducted the eleven dollars from her pay to take care of it! She got the money back, however.
When her run ended, Siegel told her that she would always be taken care of and that she would always play the Flamingo.
She ended up playing the Flamingo six or seven times a year.
Each time were four week stints.
This was not her only brush with the Mob. When she played The Palace Theater in Chicago, Al Capone came to see her. This was when she was much younger. He told her father that the "boys" would love to have the two of them over for dinner. Her father said, "I don't know if we can make that happen. She does twelve shows a day." Capone said, "We'll take care of that.We'll get her back in time. We'll pick her up tomorrow."
Rose Marie said to her father, "Who is that?" Her father replied, "Never mind but you're going to dinner tomorrow."
She was about ten or eleven years old at the time.They drove out to Capone's home in Cicero. There was a dining table that sat twenty-four people. Rose Marie had never seen anything like that before. "No bridge chairs! All the chairs matched." 
All the MOB boys were there and each of them came over to say hello. She was the center of attention and they gave her a "dinner ring." They all told her she was adorable. They told Rose Marie's father that they were protected in Chicago and if they got into any kind of trouble to contact them. They said "Rose Marie is OUR baby now. Don't worry about anything."

Now, back to Danny Thomas. Remember, Rose Marie used to open for him years before. Her relationship solidified with him and his wife, also named Rose Marie, They considered Rose Marie family when she was doing a radio show on the West Coast. One afternoon, she gets a call from Danny Thomas asking her to meet with him and Sheldon Leonard. She told them she was about to close again at the Flamingo in Vegas. Sheldon asked, "Don't you ever bomb?" She answered, "I try not to."
She asked Danny when he was going to have her guest on his show. She told him he had EVERYONE guest on her show but her. He told her her time would come. She never did.
One day, she gets a call from the casting office and they asked her to come down to Desilu for Danny Thomas. She said, Oh good!" She thought she was getting a guest spot. They told her no, that this was for a new show called the Dick Van Dyke Show. She said, "What's a Dick Van Dyke?" They told her to just go down there. She met Carl Reiner for the first time. Sheldon said to Carl, "If you want the best, get Rose Marie." She walked in and said, "Here I am!" She didn't have to audition or read. She already had the
The Paley Center
part. She asked who they had for the third writer. They told her it had not been cast yet. She suggested Morey Amsterdam. She said everybody in the business knew him, but that he should be known to the world. She told them he was a walking joke machine who also happened to be a writer. He wrote for Fanny Brice and Fred Allen. She said he would be perfect as the third writer. He shouldn't even have to audition. "Here is his phone number."
She went home, called Morey, and said,"I'm calling about a new show called The Dick Van Dyke Show."
His first response was "What's a Dick Van Dyke?" She said, "I don't know, but we're going to do his show." Same thing happened to him that happened to Rose Marie. He was given the part without auditioning and/or reading. She got Morey the job. She and Morey had already been friends for eleven years at that point. He used to write all her material for her act. That was her payback.
Her favorite episodes? She says there are so many, especially her birthday episode. She loved every one of them but there are two or three that jump out. It was such a pleasure doing that show. Last week, when I spoke with Rose Marie, she was having dinner with Dick Van Dyke that evening.  
I asked Rose Marie about Four Girls Four and she said it was one of the best shows she ever did.
Matt Connor writes on Rosemary Clooney's website, "It was one of the most surprising and unconventional show business successes of the 1970s and 80s. At a time when the biggest touring acts in the country were youth-driven pop acts like the Eagles, Abba and the Bee Gees, three middle aged female singers -- none of whom had had a chart hit in decades -- joined forces with the fourth-billed star of a long-cancelled TV sitcom to create what can only be described as a genuine show business phenomenon.
It was called 4 Girls 4, and when it first appeared on the scene in 1977, it brought staggering new success to a quartet of show business veterans who were far from their commercial peak, and launched a completely new genre of entertainment that thrives to this day: The Oldies Nostalgia Tour."
 Bill Loeb managed both Rose Marie and Rosemary Clooney. He also knew Margaret Whiting and Barbara McNair was the fourth. Loeb called Rose Marie up one day and said, "How would you like to play about thirty five minutes of your act? You will share the stage with Rosemary Clooney, Margaret Whiting, and Barbara McNair. All of you will do thirty five minutes." Rose Marie said, "Are you kidding!?!?!" He said, "No! You'll just do your act and call it a night." Rose Marie said, "You can't just do that. We've got to have a finale. There has to be a reason for four 'broads' singing together. I want to do it but we'll have to see." 
She went to her secretary who wrote song parodies and asked her to write parodies on Together, Wherever We Go and There Is Nothing Like a Dame and any songs that could work for Four Girls Four. Rose Marie made a list and went to the other women and handed out the pages and said, "This is our finale, girls." They said, "We don't have a finale!" Rose Marie said, We do now!" 
They opened at the Wilshire Theater in Hollywood. It
The Rosemary Clooney Website
was an unbelievable opening night. For the next ten years, they played all over the country two or three months out of every year playing everything from concert halls to theater in the round. They played almost every theater twice.

After Buddy died, Rose Marie was devastated and couldn't think of work.Then Hollywood Squares came along. She was with the show for fourteen years. She did the original three pilots of the show. Each time was done with a different host. One with Bert Parks, one with Sandy Baron, and one with someone else. The next thing she knew, she got the call and Peter Marshall was the host. Rose Marie believe he was the best one.She still stays in touch with him. There were five originals on the Squares: Wally Cox, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Cliff Arquette, and Abby Dalton. The other Squares were filled out with guest stars.Rose Marie stayed with it because it was an easy gig after her husband died. She didn't have to worry about singing or learning lines. All she had to do was sit there and answer questions.  It was nothing hard and she didn't have to think that hard.
It was an easy show to do and that's why she took it. They did five shows in one day. Contrary to what people have said, and what is done on some game shows now, they were not given their responses prior. 
2000th episode of Hollywood Squares on Monday, July 8, 1974. From left to right: Charley Weaver, Rose Marie, John Davidson, George Gobel, Ruta Lee, Kent McCord, Sandy Duncan, Peter Marshall, Vincent Price and Paul Lynde.

In celebration of her 90th birthday celebration today, Rose Marie doesn’t want any gifts but insists everyone send donations to The Doris Day Animal Foundation in her honor.
Rose Marie was on The Doris Day for three seasons. "Doris Day is exactly what you see on screen, the nicest person anyone would ever desire to meet. She is sweet. She is adorable. She is wonderful. She was a pleasure to work with and her Animal Foundation is the finest organization that I know, taking care of God's finest creations - animals," Rose Marie said.
Doris and Rose Marie have remained friends all of these years. They still call up each other and gossip like a "couple of old broads." Doris lives in Carmel and Rose Marie lives in Los Angeles. Rose Marie is also an animal lover. She feels that she has it in her to kill someone if she sees them being cruel to an animal. 
She was recently talking with Doris and said, "I have good news and bad news.First of all, I have pneumonia.My birthday is August 15th. I would like to do something for The Doris Day Animal Foundation." Doris Day wanted to know what she desired to do. Rose Marie told Doris that people send her things all the time. She doesn't need anything. She's doing fine. Rather than sending gifts, why not send to the Doris Day Animal Foundation?

Doris was super-excited by her pal’s generosity saying in a loving note: "I am so thrilled to be celebrating my friend Rose Marie's 90th birthday.  We had great fun working on the set of my television show.  In fact, I've never had so much fun working, if you can call it that.  We laughed all the time, sometimes much to the dismay of our director.  But then, he would laugh too.  It was then that I learned of Rose Marie's great love for animals.  She is a real pal and I love her dearly.  I couldn't be more pleased that her fans might want to honor her birthday by making donations to the DDAF,  Please know your donations will be put to good use in Rose Marie's name. With my Love," --Doris Day

I'm giving $90.00 today in honor of Rose Marie's 90th Birthday. My hope is that at least 90 people match that!
"I've had a hellava career, Richard, and I am so proud of it." 
As she said at the beginning of this interview, she just went from one thing to another and never really thought about it.

She is still working! She just did a voice over, playing a witch on the Garfield cartoon. She starts out as a bad witch who turns good. The cartoonist in homage to Rose Marie put a bow in her hair. She's doing a few episodes. 
Rose Marie would not tell me the origin of her bow, which is in the Smithsonian. It is a secret.I have just scratched the surface here. Purchase Rose Marie's book, Hold the Roses, on Amazon. EVERY WORD was written by Rose Marie, NO editor! She just sat down and wrote it. She is currently writing a sequel called I'll Take the Roses.
Rose Marie wants all that read this to make a donation to the Doris Day Animal Foundation. They really take care of our four legged friends. If an animal is sick, they take care of it. They don't kill them. They don't send them to laboratories.They make them well and try and find homes for them. That would make this the greatest birthday of all!  
Thank you to ALL that are mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!



Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Thank you Harlan Boll for arranging this interview


Richard Skipper   

This Blog is dedicated to Lee Day and Rabbi Otis for all the work you do for our four legged friends!
Rabbi Otis Facebook Page


  1. Thank you, Richard, for this fantastic interview and blog! It is so thoroughly fascinating. What an incredible life in progress and career that is a national/international/universal treasure. Happy Birthday, Rose Marie! <3. --Alan K. Choy,

  2. what a beauitful story it was wonderful to learn more about her life and that she still says in touch with my dearset friend and rabbi otis grannie dorisday and rose id so unselfish giveing to dorisday,s animal foundation all i can say is what a beauitful loveing women rose marie is god bless you rose marie and may have many many more years of happyness with all the love in our hearts leeday and lots of sloppy licks from rabbi otis xoxox

    Thank you so much for your continuous, amazing, contribution to American Arts & Entertainment. Your interviews are thoroughly detailed and delightfully amusing! You blog is the next best thing to actually "being there" with the celebrities you celebrate!
    Thank you Richard Skipper, for including all of us in your wonderful world of show business!
    Jimmy Ferraro
    Radio Host
    Jimmy Ferraro's, “THEATRE CHAT and THIS ‘N THAT”

  4. Very nice, great lady! Happy Birthday!

    Janet Moore

  5. Wonderful! What a career! And what a spirit!