Cover image for Hold the roses
Hold the roses
Rose Marie, 1923-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucky, [2002]

Physical Description:
xii, 284 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
And here she is, folks -- Baby Rose Marie, the child wonder -- Springtime in the Rockies -- Baby meets "Uncle Al" and the boys -- Hollywood: the first time -- Tastyeast is tempting -- From baby to Miss Rose Marie -- Sweet sixteen-- or eighteen? -- The love of my life -- Spring in Brazil and Berle -- Courtship in hell -- Heavenly honeymoon -- Hollywood-- love, home, and work -- The Flamingo opening -- Presenting Georgiana Marie Guy -- Florida and the ski school -- Our social life-- California style -- Phil Silvers and Broadway-- again -- The singer's curse-- nodes -- My illustrious movie career --The Dick Van Dyke Show -- My dear friends-- my angels -- When "Tom" became "Tim" Conway -- Life is a three-legged chair -- Hollywood Squares -- An affair not to remember -- Doris Day and Australia -- The theater-- dinner and otherwise -- The pussycat theaters and Vince -- Up a tree, or ring around Rosie -- 4 girls 4 -- Noop's wedding -- 4 girls 4, the second time -- Things I forgot to tell you.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN2287.R7575 A3 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PN2287.R7575 A3 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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With candour and humour, this biography tells of Rose Marie's many years in the entertainment world. Her behind-the-scenes look at show business is replete with intimate stories of household names from Hollywood, Las Vegas and Broadway.

Author Notes

Rose Marie was born Rose Marie Mazzetta in Manhattan, New York on August 15, 1923. Shortly after winning a talent contest at the age of 3, she began her professional career as Baby Rose Marie. By the time she was 4, she was starring on a local radio show and soon after that she had her own national show on NBC. In 1929, she performed three songs in the early sound film Baby Rose Marie the Child Wonder. In 1933, she appeared in the movie International House. She continued to perform as Baby Rose Marie until she was a teenager, when she took a brief break from show business to finish high school. After graduating, she began working as both a singer and a comedian in nightclubs across the country, billed as Rose Marie.

Rose Marie was on the all-star bill at the opening night of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas in 1946. In 1951, she appeared on Broadway in the musical Top Banana. Her best-known television role was Sally Rogers on the Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran on CBS from 1961 to 1966. She also appeared on The Doris Day Show, My Sister Eileen, The Bob Cummings Show, The Love Boat, Cagney and Lacey, Murphy Brown, Wings, and Suddenly Susan. In the late 1970s and early '80s, she toured the country alongside the singers Rosemary Clooney, Helen O'Connell, and Margaret Whiting with an act called 4 Girls 4. Her memoir, Hold the Roses, was published in 2003. She died on December 28, 2017 at the age of 94.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The wisecracking sidekick of The Dick Van Dyke Show and regular player on Hollywood Squares recounts a fortunate life cleanly lived in this conversational memoir. Born illegitimately in 1923 in a New York railroad tenement as Rose Marie Mazzetta, she won a talent contest at age three and quickly became a radio star as Baby Rose Marie, the "kid who sings like Sophie Tucker." Signing with NBC and the top vaudeville circuits, she (and her parents) dodged child labor laws, and Baby Rose Marie appeared for the next few years with headliners Rudy Vallee and Dick Powell. Through her father (who was well acquainted with "the boys"), she met "Uncle Al" Capone, who kissed her cheek and told her, " `If you ever need me for anything, tell your father to call me.' " After growing up and becoming Miss Rose Marie, there were club dates, a Broadway stint and a happy marriage to trumpeter Bobby Guy. She went on to ham it up as Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and here praises all the principals but doesn't discuss specific show highlights, instead focusing on the friendships (although she wasn't close with Mary Tyler Moore) and remembering everyone's kindness when her husband died. She then recollects her years on Hollywood Squares, her work with Doris Day and Ethel Merman, an affair and the resolution of her multiyear spat with Tim Conway. Though thin on personal commentary and insight, the book's fast pace and happy memories will please Rose Marie's fans. 30 b&w illus. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



And Here She Is, Folks I was born, illegitimately, on August 15 in New York City. A holy day ... the Feast of the Assumption. I was named Rose Marie: Marie because it was a holy day, so my grandmother said I would be named either Mary or Marie. The choice was not a difficult one for my mother, since she never did like the name Mary. My father decided I should be named after his mother, Rose. So, to please everybody, I was named Rose Marie. A musical entitled "Rose-Marie" had opened on Broadway the night I was born, and my mother liked the name as two words rather than one. Little did she know how many times in my life I would be called "Rosemary" or "Miss Marie." My mother's name was Stella Gluscak. My father was Frank Mazzetta. They never married because my father already was married to a woman in Brooklyn-he also had two children with her. I think my mother knew, but what could she do-I had arrived. We lived in a three-story railroad tenement at 616 East 17th Street-the first high stoop on the right, across the street from the dumps. At least that's what we used to say when we could afford to take a cab. I don't remember my father ever living with us. I lived with my mother and her mother and father, Ursula and Michael Gluscak. My grandmother cleaned office buildings and my grandfather was a shoemaker. He made all my shoes until he passed away when I was about five. My mother had various jobs (telephone company, pencil factory, and so on). I remember my grandmother saying to my mother, "Don't worry: when you're working, I'll take care of her. And when I'm working, you'll take care of her. We'll get along." My grandparents were from Kraków, Poland. My mother was born in New York on Christmas (also a holy day). On my father's side, both of his parents were born in Italy ... Rose and Joseph Mazzetta. My father was born in New York. He had many jobs during his lifetime. He was a suit cutter, and was with "the boys" when they were trying to get everybody to join the union. Anybody who didn't join, they would go and bomb that person's place. He also claimed to be part of a trio that played with George M. Cohan in one of his big shows, but I never did believe that. Another of my father's "positions" was manager, or owner, or bouncer, of the Diana Ballroom. My mother was a happy-go-lucky girl, weighing 90 pounds soaking wet, and quite attractive. She loved the theater, music, dancing, and all the glitter of show business. She used to go to the Diana Ballroom to dance, but she always went with a bunch of girls. My father saw her, a cute girl of seventeen, and took a liking to her. He would set up contests so my mother would win. Bless her heart, at that time she was so gullible and naive. This guy had her dance with George Raft (I checked this out with George when I went to Hollywood ... you'll hear more about this later) and Rudolph Valentino (I couldn't check this out; he was long gone by then). My mother always swore that she did indeed dance with Valentino. My mother used to take me to the Jefferson Theater on 14th Street and to the Academy of Music to see the movies and vaudeville shows. I would come home and sing all of the songs I had heard for my grandparents. They would applaud, fuss over me and say how wonderful I was. I would say, "I have to go upstairs and sing for the Polish people on the third floor." It was those wonderful Polish neighbors who entered me in the amateur contest at the Mecca Theater. In fact, they bought the dress I wore and the gold-brocaded Mary Jane shoes-which I still have. (I treasure them very much, and I smile whenever I look at them.) My mother was petrified. "I don't know if she'll sing in front of a lot of people or cry or just not want to sing." The neighbors said, "She sings for us and we're an audience. She'll sing." Well, I won the contest. How can you beat a three-year-old kid who sings like Sophie Tucker? I think the prize was twenty dollars. My father heard about my victory and quickly became part of the picture. He took my mother and me to Atlantic City. He had relatives there. We stayed for a little while. In those days, nightclubs were family restaurants, with dancing and a floor show. One night we went to the Little Club. Evelyn Nesbit was a showgirl who was known as "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" and was also involved in what was later called the biggest scandal of the early years of the century. Her boyfriend had shot her husband over her. Evelyn was the star of the show. While she was singing, I of course started to sing with her. She was very upset, but I kept on singing with her. She finally came over, took me by the hand and led me to the microphone, and I sang. Boy, did I sing! Everybody started throwing money on the stage-lots of money. I was such a big hit. Some of the waiters picked up the money and gave it to my mother. I think that's the only time she got every penny of what I earned. Backstage, Evelyn Nesbit said to my father, "What's her name?" My father said, "Dainty Rose Marie." She said, "She is a baby, call her Baby Rose Marie." And that's how I became Baby Rose Marie! (Until I was fifteen!) My mother immediately went on the Boardwalk and bought me a red felt coat with large, white angora polka dots with a cloche hat and bag to match. It must have cost everything I made at the Little Club. Whether it did or not, I wore it until the polka dots fell off. Word got around town about this three-year-old kid who sounded like Sophie Tucker, with a raspy, grown-up voice. I never sounded like the Shirley Temple "Good Ship Lollipop" type. I have the voice today that I had when I was a child. I started singing at parties, clubs and the Ambassador Hotel, one of the finest hotels in Atlantic City. In fact, I sang there in a big show on New Year's Eve. By now, Radio Station WPG asked my father to come and talk to them about me. I remember it was at the Steel Pier, which is still a big attraction in Atlantic City. We went over and I sang. They wanted me to go on the radio twice a week. I stood in a glass booth, facing the Boardwalk so that everyone could see this child singing on the radio. They say I received one hundred fan letters a week, which in those days was unbelievable. I continued with WPG, my very first "real" job, for a few months. My mother wanted to go back to New York, so we went home to 17th Street. WMCA Radio Station in New York called and wanted me to sing on their weekly variety show called The Orhbach Hour. (Yes, Orhbach's, the department store.) I did that show every week for about three months, and I was becoming very well known. I was also making quite a bit of money, and we could now afford to move to a better place. My grandmother, who had decided that we should move; my father, who by now had appointed himself my manager; and my sweet but oh-so-naive mother and I moved to Sunnyside, New York. We had the bottom floor of a two-story house, which was like a mansion compared to our railroad flat. Looking back now, maybe we should have stayed on 17th Street; I understand it now has become a very exclusive area. Very, very avant-garde! After the Orhbach Hour, NBC Radio Network called my parents and wanted to talk to them about signing me to a seven-year contract. This was quite unusual because NBC had only a few artists signed-Rudy Vallee, Amos and Andy, symphony conductor Leo Reisman, Vincent Lopez, and announcer Graham McNamara. We went to 711 Fifth Avenue to see a Mr. Ed Schewing, the head of the NBC Artists Bureau. Miss MacDonald, his secretary, led us into this huge office-big oak desk, humongous chairs with red leather and an entire wall of windows overlooking Fifth Avenue. I will never forget that day! Mr. Schewing was tall, slender, and very kind. He asked us to sit down, and then he talked to my father about signing me to a seven-year contract, assuring my mother throughout the conversation that he would look out for me. After my father signed the contract and they shook hands, Mr. Schewing came over and gave me a big hug, saying, "Now honey, even if you spit, you'll get paid." He then went over to my mother, shook her hand and gave her a Chinese red-lacquered box of Schrafft's Candy. I think it was the most expensive gift my mother had ever received. She still has that red-lacquered box. It's been used as a sewing box, a button box, and so on. Every time I look at that box I think of that day-when my career really started to move into the "Big Time." Chapter Two Baby Rose Marie, the Child Wonder The first big thing NBC did was put me in a Vitaphone movie short. These were fifteen-minute short subjects that went on before the features. Many of the big stars of the day made these shorts. Harry Richman, Georgie Price, Georgie Jessel, Sophie Tucker, to name a few. If you remember these names, you're an "Alta Cocka" like I am. But remember: I was five years old! I wore my polka-dot coat and hat and a pink ruffled dress. I sang two songs. My short was the one that played the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway at the opening of The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson. I went to the premiere with my mother and father and met Mr. Jolson. He was very angry about having to follow my short. My short was all singing, and The Jazz Singer was part talk and part singing. He made such a fuss that I thought he was going to hit someone. He kept raving and ranting, but finally he went into the theater. When the show was over, I saw him being congratulated. I ran over to him and said, "Oh, Mr. Jolson, you were so great, you made me cry." He looked at me and said, "You were great too, ya little runt." Nice man! However, every time we would appear together at benefits, like the Milk Fund at Madison Square Garden, he would spot me with my father, come over and say, "Hi, ya little runt. You gonna go out and kill the people?" I would look up at him and say, "I hope so." He would give me a little kiss on the cheek and say, "Tell 'em they ain't seen nothin' yet till they see Uncle Al." Go figure! By now I was five years old and doing a lot of guest appearances on the NBC shows. I sang with the NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leo Reisman; after one rehearsal, he threw down his baton and said, "I can't believe this child. She has such a knowledge of tempo and rhythm. She can't be five years old! She's a midget." And he stormed off the podium. (More on the midget bit later.) I sang on the RKO Theater of the Air, The Rudy Vallee Show , which was the biggest hit on the radio at that time. We did his show in the basement of the Brooklyn Paramount Theater. Rudy was a wonderful friend to me, and when I went to California in 1945, I did his show again. In fact, it was the first show I did after I got married. Being with NBC was a blessing because I was given the opportunity to do so many things. I started making records on the Brunswick label. I did songs like, "Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are," "Take a Picture of the Moon" and "Say That You Were Teasing Me," to name a few. All cute songs. Bernie Cummings and His Orchestra were playing at the New Yorker Hotel on 34th Street in Manhattan. They played there every night and had two radio shows a night broadcast coast to coast as well. Those were the days when most of the big bands had radio shows from the places where they were appearing. "Radio remotes," they were called. Some of you will remember when an announcer would say over the music, "Ladies and Gentlemen, from the Aragon Ballroom, Lawrence Welk and his orchestra." This was, "Ladies and Gentlemen, here's Bernie Cummings and his Orchestra from the New Yorker Hotel in the heart of Manhattan, starring Baby Rose Marie." I sang on these radio shows twice a night for several months. I was six years old when the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children started to bother us about the child labor laws. Sometimes known as the Gerry Society, it was created to enforce the child labor laws. The laws in the state of New York about children working were very strict. It came about back when there were children working in the factories day and night, with no proper meals, schooling and time to sleep. Hell, it wasn't work for me-I loved it. Nevertheless, we had to meet the head man of the Gerry Society, who said, "So many mothers have called to complain: `How come she can work and sing on the radio and you won't allow my daughter or son to do that?'" Apparently it was all right to sing on the radio, but you couldn't sing or dance in a show. Children could talk on the stage in plays, but no singing or dancing. It was really a strange law, because African American children were allowed to sing and dance on stage. I specifically remember the Nicholas Brothers, a brilliant dance act who were always working. We became very good friends, and we did a lot of club dates together when we were young. Being six years old, I quickly learned that life couldn't be all fun and no work. It was time to go to school! Actually, school was fun for me. When I began school, I attended Professional Children's School on 61st Street in Manhattan, at the old Daddy Browning Building. The school consisted of three floors: one floor was an auditorium, and the other two floors were classrooms. It went up to the 8th grade. Many children who were in plays on Broadway attended the school. Children who were on the road would do "correspondence schoolwork," and send the finished lessons back to the school. Some very famous people went to this school: Milton Berle, Anne Baxter, Peter McDonald and many, many more. The girl who played Kim, the child in Showboat , was in my kindergarten class. Many of the "radio children," who did radio soap operas, were also in attendance. The hours for the school were 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. I did my first play in school with Peter McDonald and Jack Jorden. It was a children's play, written especially for the commencement of that year. Being primarily a singer, I was very flattered and proud to have been chosen to appear in a play with a cast of already accomplished actors and actresses. Imagine my delight when I received the letter from the principal. I was still doing radio guest shots and club dates about once a week. The Gerry Society would call and say, "How is she? What do you feed her? Where do you buy her clothes?" My clothes for work were either handmade for me by my mother's cousin, or selected and purchased by my mother from a dear lady, Mrs. Kowalski. From time to time, Mrs. Kowalski would bring several dresses for my mother to see. My mother got very disgusted and asked someone at the Gary Society if there wasn't something we could do to keep from getting the calls and checkups. The man said, "You could move to Jersey, we can't touch you there!" So we moved to East Orange, New Jersey. Continues... Excerpted from Hold the Roses by Rose Marie Copyright © 2002 by The University Press of Kentucky Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.