My Bizarre Encounter With Rose Marie

Categories: TV

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Before the Internet was born, fact-checking had to be done in a variety of more exhausting ways, sometimes involving tracking down your subject and just plain asking them for the facts!

In the '80s, I was running an item about Rose Marie, the child star who went on to another round of fame in The Dick Van Dyke Show and later on Hollywood Squares.

My item said that Rose Marie had dated a mobster (let's call him Joe Mazzulo, since I can't remember the name and am too lazy to fact-check it, lol).

My libel lawyer was very firm about me having to double-check this piece of information, and in fact to make sure Rose Marie herself confirmed it.

Rather than fly myself to L.A. and hop from one greasy spoon to another looking for the dame, I miraculously managed to get her home number from an agency that dealt in celebrity contacts. (I had an in there.)

I thought they'd maybe give me her agent's number -- but no, it was hers! She'd listed it with them, this being a more innocent time with some trust in the air.

So I called and still figured I'd get an assistant, a maid, or a "wrong number."

But the second I heard the gruff, raspy voice on the line, I knew it was Rose Marie herself.

"Yeah?" she shot out.

She sounded cautiously pessimistic.

"Um, I'm Michael Musto from the Village Voice newspaper," I gurgled, "and I'm running an item that you dated Joe Mazzulo and I just wanted to confirm that with you, if that's at all possible. So sorry to bother you at home."

Weighted pause.

"Yeah," she barked.

I could have then tried to engage the woman in a two-hour conversation about showbiz, but she really didn't sound like she wanted to talk much.

Besides, I had gotten what I needed -- not to mention a memorably weird encounter with someone I love.



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16 comments
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Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Nope. He was a comic/ventriloquist who played everything from hotel supper clubs to saloons, joints and toilets.

I was a starstruck boy reporter who worked at a newspaper where there were still spittoons on the floor -- and they were used.

jonster
jonster

Wow.  Cool story.  Sounds like a really interesting life!!!

MarkyMark
MarkyMark

Anyone who reads this column and hasn't seen the "Baby Rose Marie" number in the movie "International House" (1933) probably should rent it.

I saw her decades ago during the "Four Girls Four" tour, and she was a hoot live; her personal intro-song included lines like "Then my salary took a hike, God bless Dick Van Dyke". Unusually, she's not so much an "old vaudevillian" as a 1920s-30s child radio-star turned teen nightclub entertainer.

noodle
noodle

I heard she went both ways, she had her lesbo moments. She was good friends with Martha Raye and hung out and Martha's home, Martha was also an old lesbo so you do the math!

mjm
mjm

so technically her last marriage (to Mark "gayer than a five dollar bill" Harris) was a lavender marriage? interesting...

Musto
Musto

Rose Marie wrote in her memoirs about Al Capone and others helping her career.

By the way, she replaced Sylvia Miles on The Dick Van Dyke Show. (Sylvia was in the pilot as Sally.)

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Rose Marie has hundreds of stories to tell. Did a long interview with her when she was touring with "Four, Girls, Four" (Rosemary Clooney, Margaret Whiting, Helen O'Connell). Everyone jumped for Clooney, I had already done Margaret Whiting and my father was pressing for an intro to O'Connell,  with insane hopes of an amorous conquest, so I concentrated on the other Rosie and her life just poured out of her.A great broad and a great lady.

Phillip McKrevis
Phillip McKrevis

Southern Dave! You and Your Father on the star circuit?! How very Griffin and John Gregory Dunne!

Movielover
Movielover

She was a good singer, coulda been Judy Garland-ish, singing all kinds of great standards and getting fag-haggier all along the way.  How come she didn't?

jonster
jonster

Rosie was close with all those mob guys.  She was one of the first Vegas headliners.  She opened Bugsy Siegel's Desert Inn way back in 1946 with Jimmy Durante and played to a house of about 9 people.  "When the mob ran it, it was perfect. They treated you like a person. They were wonderful," she said. 

Normadesmond
Normadesmond

i have a rosie story, but can't write it here.

JEWISHPRINCESS0
JEWISHPRINCESS0

Love this.You sounded boy..ish then.Ok...sometimes still do.

Semper
Semper

Priceless anecdote.

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