Sunday, March 6, 2011

Baby Rose Marie

One of the very best TV sitcoms of all time has to be "The Dick Van Dyke Show" made from 1961 to 1966.  It was funny for sure, but it was also smart, and it appealed to every audience.  Dick Van Dyke (b. 1925) had some great one-liners throughout the run of the series, and with Mary Tyler Moore (b. 1936) at his side, it all worked.

In the series, the team of comedy writers played by Morey Amsterdam (1908 - 1996) and Rose Marie (b. 1923), really brought in the laughs.  But it was more than that.  Most of the series was filmed with a live audience.  That gives the actors a better gauge for the timing required for maximum laugh effect.  Plus, the creators and writers were the best.  How can you miss with the names Carl Reiner, Danny ThomasSheldon Leonard and Garry Marshall involved?

Rose Marie, who was 38 when the series began, was only three years old when she started performing in vaudeville as Baby Rose Marie.  She was a hit, and also worked in early radio.  Starting in 1929, after the talkies were no longer considered a fad, she made seven short films up until 1938.  She also appeared in International House in 1933 with a huge comedy cast.  She then went to radio full time.

The 1950s brought her back to the screen in Top Banana (1954) starring Phil Silvers (1911 - 1985).  I would imagine she wanted to stretch her wings a bit, and we see Marie in several dramatic TV shows including "Gunsmoke," and "M-Squad" which starred Lee Marvin.

She is a regular on "The Bob Cummings Show" and then in a short lived series called "My Sister Eileen" before her big TV break with Dick Van Dyke.  Many more TV shows would be in her future after that triumph.

Let's look at her movies.  In 1966 she is in a James Coburn (1928 - 2002) film, Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round.  That was a crime/comedy/drama, so she would fit in well.  Her next movie was in 1974 called Memory of Us, with the father/daughter team of Will and Ellen Geer.  I haven't seen it, but I guess it was less than memorable, and Rose only played the housekeeper.

The next year she is in The Man from Clover Grove and that movie had the tag line, "It's Supersonic Comedy, out of Remote Control!" so you can guess how good it was.  She did get to work with her friend Richard Deacon in that one.

Next were two horror films, again in just small parts.  Witchboard (1986) and Sandman (1993).  She also does a voice-over in the 1998 remake of Psycho starring Anne Heche (b. 1969).  Why would ANYBODY try to remake Psycho?!?

I would have liked to see Rose Marie in more dramatic roles.  She has an interesting face that was still photogenic as she aged, and her resume shows that she has all the experience any casting director could want. I guess we will have to be happy with all of her small screen work, which is considerable.  And someday I will pick up the entire "Dick Van Dyke Show" set because that is just about the best thing she was ever in.

Rose Marie now has 71 titles listed on IMDb, plus another huge number of appearances as herself on various TV shows and documentaries.  She is also active on the stage.  After her short life as a child star, she would become a favorite Bit Actress on TV and in film.


  1. "The Dick Van Dyke Show" is certainly one of the best sit-coms of all time as far as I'm concerned. It's as funny now as it was when it aired and the cast, from top to bottom, is first rate, really perfect. I always loved relationship between Buddy & Sally and between them & Rob - and between those 3 and everyone else on "The Alan Brady Show." For me, the show is up there with "Lucy," "Mary Tyler Moore," "The Honeymooners" and not very much else. I don't know that I've seen Rose Marie in anything but Dick Van Dyke but having been a part of that incomparable cast ensures her of TV immortality (IMHO)...

  2. You are right, Eve. Perhaps all Rose Marie needed was Dick Van Dyke for her place in the sun...or rather, starlight!


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