An industry veteran with over 30 years in the luxury, beauty and CPG arenas, Marc has never lost sight of the fact that a brand is only as good as the team that creates it.
Marc is married to legendary film goddess Arlene Dahl. Marc's world of design and Arlene's friends in the film world came together in a marvelous way thus allowing Marc to rub shoulders with some of the greatest and most iconic names of the twentieth and now twenty first century.
I have also been lucky enough to rub shoulders with Marc. As a matter of fact, I met with Marc recently over coffee at his beautiful Sparkill home (yes, we are neighbors!) to discuss his latest book.
Marc was born not far from here in Englewood, New Jersey. He didn't know that he was going to be a designer when he was a young man going to school. In those days, one would aspire to being a doctor or a lawyer or an "indian chief". The guidance counselor, in no way, would have encouraged
He worked at the blood bank after school his senior year, thinking that he was going to be a doctor until he found out he couldn't stand the sight of blood.
He then decided that he wanted to be a designer even though he had never taken any art or design courses. Any art courses were considered wasted electives. He had done it as a hobby. His parents were very supportive. He put together a portfolio with the help for the designer at the "Y".
He was accepted into all of the schools that he applied to, but in the end he went to Carnegie-Mellon. In his senior year, he was given a package design project and that summer of the junior year prior to that, he was looking for jobs with his portfolio. He didn't realize that there were so many people that he would be competing against.
Avon and they bought it. He thought, "Wow! I love this...AND they pay you! This is for me." So, he decided that this is what he wanted to do. He got a job at Revlon working with Charles Revson, which is in the book (Rubbing Shoulders). Marc is one of those rare people who has been able to follow his career path his entire life. Marc was at Revlon for four years when Charles Revson passed away. From there, at age twenty-nine, Marc was lucky enough to acquire the position of head of design at Elizabeth Arden.
Arden had passed on and Eli Lilly purchased the company. It was very unusual for someone Marc's age to have gotten the job. Normally, it was someone somewhat more "senior". That would be someone in their forties or fifties. Marc was one of those to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Prior to that, when he was at Revlon, he was married to someone that he went to graduate school with.
He went to meet her, another story in the book, and she guessed his astrology sign AND birthday! They became great friends and several years later, both of their marriages broke up and they started going out. It was unheard of in those days; the age difference is eighteen years. There is a great story in the back about Marc's boss' response to this and Marc's response to him. They have been married over 31 years, a marriage that many said wouldn't last. Marc stayed at Arden thirteen years. He started writing a column. He started teaching in the graduate program at Pratt. He has since become a trustee at Pratt. Pratt has become big part of his life. There is an annual scholarship dinner for a scholarship that is given in Marc's name that is worth three and a half million dollars which Marc is very proud of.
|with Randy Jones|
Pratt, Marc's own career, and his social life keep him very busy. They, fortunately, have sort of meshed because glamour in the cosmetic industry and glamour in his personal life have morphed into one ball of wax. The book really came out of "nowhere".
Marc did a book on perfume bottles, which I have, called Glamour Icons several years ago. He thought that was IT. People kept asking him when he was going to do another book. He kept responding with, "I'm not." He has, however, all these stories that he would tell these stories at a dinner if it was apropos pro and people would laugh. One day, Marc realized that part of it is how you tell the story. He thought that if he could write the way that he speaks, that maybe he would have something. He started wroting a few stories and he ran into Pamela Fiori, who for seventeen years was the Town and Country Magazine.
She is a good friend and she said on the street, "When are you writing another book?", and he said "Well, I'm not really going to, but I'm fooling around with these celebrity stories of people I've met.", and she said, "Why don;t you call it Rubbing Shoulders?". Marc actually had another title in mind.
However, he thought the title was so good that he would only use it if she would write the foreword, which she agreed to do. Marc went back to his office thinking, "Well, that's interesting."
|Literally rubbing shoulders with Joan Collins (Photo Courtesy: Marc Rosen)|
|Young Marc Rosen (Courtsey Marc Rosen)|
He sent the stories over and the publisher asked to see him. He went there armed with all the press from the first book. When he got there, he was told that they wanted to publish his book. He was flabbergasted that anyone wanted to publish this book! He became like a whirling dervish and he started writing every morning about three stories when he got to the office and Arlene would say, "Don't forget about this story", or his sister would say,
"Don't forget about that story about the shrink.". He had a lot of fun writing it...very quickly...about three months. He wrote all the stories and the publisher seemed very pleased. He kept telling her that he was not a writer and she kept telling him that he was. The rest is history!
Marc is an early riser. He would get to the office about eight. He would write from eight until nine before the phone would start to ring.
|Arlene Dahl introduces her family: Marc Rosen, Lorenzo Lamas, Arlene Dahl, Carole Holmes McCarthy, Shanye Lamas, Stephen Schaum, and Christoper Barker|
|Soon after they married in 1984, Arlene and Marc moved into a charming old Victorian in the Rockland hamlet of Sparkill.|
|Carol Channing wins a coat! (Courtesy: Marc Rosen)|
He succeeded in writing the book the way he speaks.
Marc has learned that there are different ways that people approach a book. For example, in preparation for this interview, I got the book and read it from start to finish. If a friend of his writes a book and gives it to him, he usually reads it right away or on a plane. He has found that with this book, most people who are in it, only read their chapter! Everyone so far has told Marc that he has captured the moments very accurately depicted in the book. They are amused. They often don't read beyond that. They get lazy
or they put it aside or they read it when they have time. Some do and some don't. Rex Reed called Marc and told him that he read it through and through. Of course, he knew everybody in it.
Hopefully his review will be out soon!
|Carole Delouvrier, Marc, Michael Feinstein, Terrence Flannery, Arlene, Joan Collins, Percy Gibson (Courtesy Marc Rosen)|
As said before, it took Marc essentially three months to write this book. Then edits and additions added another three months. The publisher wanted it by September and Marc was on time.
The book was a catharsis for Marc. Writing the
Recently there was an interview with Tom Hanks (also part of the Bette Davis story), and to Marc's surprise, he recounted one of the stories in the book although he didn't tell it correctly!
|Sitting, l. to r.: Jane Powell, Marc Rosen, Arlene Dahl, Anita Jaffe. Standing, l. to r.: Suzanne Mados, David Staller, Simone Levitt, Liliane Montevecchi, Stephen Schaum, Dick Moore, and Donald Stannard.|
It could be doing a new bottle, teaching a class at Pratt; he likes the idea that he is not afraid to follow through. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.He doesn't feel that he is a failure if it doesn't work, he just thinks some things work, some things don't. You just throw out those that don't work.
Growing up, Marc didn't keep a journal. He only wrote anniversary or birthday cards. He would write "dumb" poems.
His sister, who is a college professor, was the writer. They always thought that SHE would write a book.
Marc was the artist, she was the writer. Marc still doesn't think of himself as a writer.
|Robert Osborne, Arlene Dahl and Marc Rosen|
|Robert Osborne, Liza Minnelli, Marc Rosen, and Carol Channing.|
As I stated earlier, when Marc first met Arlene, he was not familiar with her films. He came to know these films as he was falling in love with her. Arlene is not one of these people who talks about her career unless she is being interviewed or prompted. I keep asking when she is going to write HER book! If you ask her, for example, "What was it like working with Robert Taylor?", she'll tell you. She will also share an amusing anecdote if she feels like it, but she is not one of those actresses who talks about how important she was. We ALL know actors or actresses and all they talk about is what it was like, what it was like working with "Clark Gable", etc. Arlene has amazing stories. When Marc and Arlene first met and he was getting to know her, he was more excited over the fact that she knew Elsie deWolfe. As a designer, Marc was more impressed with Elsie de Wolfe than he was with the movie stars.
There is a great story in the book in which Marc talks about going to Elsie de Wolfe's home in Versailles.
Of course, Marc started watching Arlene's movies and choosing the ones he liked best and asking her questions about the films and learning about the directors. He is very interested in the history. Marc even believes that he would have been a great history teacher had he not been a designer. He is very interested in the history of Hollywood, MGM, and the studio system. That part of her career and the stories behind the scenes are far more interesting than the films being made. I have been lucky enough to interview Arlene. There is a great story that happens to be a favorite of both Marc's and mine. She had done Cyrano on Broadway with Jose Ferrer. He always said that she was his favorite Roxanne. She signed with Columbia to be lent out from MGM to do the movie. She was fitted for costumes, wigs,
This happened to be around the time of the early days of television. The studios were frightened by this new media. They were afraid that people would stop going to movies. When Columbia sent the contract to MGM to be signed for the loan out, there was a "television clause". In a burst of shortsightedness, many film studios put clauses into actors' contracts forbidding them to appear on TV — even to promote their own films. Mayer refused to sign the contract and the film as intended fell apart. Arlene was replaced by Mala Powers and it was made in black and white on a cheaper scale. They fitted her into Arlene's clothes and filmed in black and white because Arlene is a redhead.
Marc loves those back stories. Those stories interest Marc more than "What was it like working with 'so and so'?"
How lucky has Marc been to meet so many of these people socially! Being married to Arlene, he was completely accepted. He was younger and he was not a big raving fan. Rebecca was one of his
Just wait till you read about Carol Channing, winning a $50,000 coat, and her make-up Foundation! Read this Book! Please join me Saturday afternoon with Marc Rosen and you, too, can rub shoulders with him!
“Marc Rosen's RUBBING SHOULDERS”
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