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Rose Marie Interview: "Dick Van Dyke Show" Star Recalls 90 Years of Showbiz Life

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Image attributed to Rose Marie

Rose Marie

Rose Marie officially has the longest active career in entertainment beginning at three years old to her current age of 93. As a child performer, she had a successful singing career known as Baby Rose Marie. Her career includes vaudeville, film, radio, records, theater, nightclubs and television and is best known as TV comedy writer Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966).

Born in New York City, Rose Marie appeared in several films, but most of her career was spent on television. In addition to The Dick Van Dyke Show, she appeared on The Bob Cummings Show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, My Sister Eileen, The Hollywood Squares, The Doris Day Show and many others.

“I was performing in Chicago, and my father told me we were going in a car to meet someone. I later learned that it was Al Capone. He had seen me perform and wanted to meet me. Most of the theaters were owned by organized crime, so they were my boss. They were wonderful to me, treated me beautifully. They made sure I was always taken care of. They were instrumental in building Las Vegas, where I worked for many years.”

Rose Marie was married to trumpeter Bobby Guy from 1946 until his death in 1964. The couple had one daughter, Georgiana. She is a big part of the Hollywood Museum “Child Stars – Then and Now” exhibit opening August 19, 2016 and ending in December. Currently, filmmaker Jason Wise and her friends are putting together a documentary that honors the icon that has literally done it all.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Were your parents involved in show business, and that’s why you began performing at age three?

Rose Marie: No, my parents were not involved in show business. My mother entered me into a contest. After I won, my father took over managing my singing career.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Where did the name “Baby Rose Marie” originate?

Rose Marie: Evelyn Nesbitt, a big star in the 20s, heard me sing and asked my father what my name was. My father said, “Dainty Rose Marie.” Evelyn said, “No. She’s a baby. Call her Baby Rose Marie.” After that, I was called Baby Rose Marie.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What is your earliest memory of performing?

Rose Marie: At the talent contest at three years of age.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How did you meet Al Capone?

Rose Marie: I was performing in Chicago, and my father told me we were going in a car to meet someone. I later learned that it was Al Capone. He had seen me perform and wanted to meet me. Most of the theaters were owned by organized crime, so they were my boss. They were wonderful to me, treated me beautifully. They made sure I was always taken care of. They were instrumental in building Las Vegas, where I worked for many years.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You were a singer and played vaudeville. How and why did you get into comedy?

Rose Marie: Comedy evolved into my nightclub act. My husband always told me to talk more to the audience. I enjoyed talking to the audience. Comedy and comedic timing came from that.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you enjoy television or film more?

Rose Marie: I had wonderful teachers in television. I learned a lot. I did films, but was most comfortable with television.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How did you meet Morey Amsterdam?

Rose Marie: I knew Morey for many years before The Dick Van Dyke Show. He wrote special material for me for my nightclub act. Morey wrote material for some of the biggest names in show business. I loved him. I’m godmother to his daughter. Morey and I were always very close friends for over 50 years.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How did you get the role of Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show?

Rose Marie: I got called in to meet with Sheldon Leonard, Carl Reiner and Danny Thomas. There was never any audition. They said if I wanted the role, I could have it. Needless to say, I took it. Dick Van Dyke and Carl Reiner were two of the most talented people in the business, a pleasure to be around and work with.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Were you ever discriminated against for being female or sexually harassed?

Rose Marie: No, never, and I’m proud to have played Sally Rogers, the first independent, self-supporting career girl represented on television (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What was your relationship like with Paul Lynde during the days of Hollywood Squares?

Rose Marie: I loved Paul Lynde. He was another talented person and one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. We always shot five shows in one day on Hollywood Squares. Then, we’d take a dinner break. Paul would have a few glasses of wine with dinner. Those shows after the dinner break were always the funniest! (laughs)

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Any “love” involved with your relationship with Frank Sinatra?

Rose Marie: Absolutely not. When you worked nightclubs, you got to know all the performers. Everyone was always professional, and we were all friends. When my husband was working at NBC, I went to pick him up and saw Frank. He was the first person I told I was pregnant. He asked if my husband knew, but about that time, my husband came out, and Frank congratulated him. That’s how my husband found out I was pregnant.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you date any actors or singers?

Rose Marie: Nope. I dated a hometown guy for a while, then my future husband.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Why did you never marry again after the death of your husband in 1964?

Rose Marie: No one could compare to my husband. I was spoiled for life.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you ever regretted losing a part or not going after a role you really wanted?

Rose Marie: Not really. I’ve been very lucky throughout my career in that I’ve kept working.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there still something that you haven’t done yet professionally, but wish to do?

Rose Marie: I always wanted to do the show Gypsy. Ethel Merman was a good friend of mine, and I just loved that show.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there a story about why you first started wearing the hair bow?

Rose Marie: The bow story is personal.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I understand that Jason Wise is working on a documentary about your life and that you have saved everything from your career. What’s your favorite piece of memorabilia?

Rose Marie: I didn’t realize I had so much. But, of course, if I had to have a favorite piece, it would be all my home movies. I’m told I have over 16 hours. I had no idea I had taken so much. Jason showed me a few reels, and I absolutely loved watching them again.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What do you want your legacy to be?

Rose Marie: That I was good at my job and that I loved every minute of it.

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