Rose Marie, Star of Dick Van Dyke Show, Dies at 94

Rose Marie, a child star who grew up to co-star on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and become a fixture on the game show “The Hollywood Squares,” died Thursday, the Associated Press reported. She was 94.

Marie died while resting in her Los Angeles-area home and was found by a caretaker, AP cited family spokesman Harlan Boll as saying.

On “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” Rose Marie — her stage name, always used in full — played Sally Rogers, the only woman among three comedy writers for a television variety series. Her character and that of fellow writer Buddy Sorrell, played by Morey Amsterdam, were based loosely on “Your Show of Shows” writers Mel Brooks and Selma Diamond. Dick Van Dyke played their younger, college-educated colleague, Rob Petrie.

“I was the first women’s-lib part that was ever on television,” Rose Marie said in a 1999 interview with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation. “I made the same money the boys made. We were all equal. I was a writer, not a secretary.”

As one of TV’s early career women, Rose Marie’s character was also presented as only partially satisfied with her lot in life. Her “lack of a husband hangs over her like a dark cloud,” David Marc wrote in his book on television history, “Comic Visions” (1989).

For her work, Rose Marie was nominated three times for Emmy Awards in the 1960s.

In later years she played recurring roles on TV series including “The Doris Day Show,” “S.W.A.T.,” “The Love Boat” and “Murphy Brown.”

Smithsonian Donation

In 2008, Rose Marie donated the trademark black bow she wore in her hair to the Smithsonian Institution’s American History Museum.

Rose Marie Mazzetta was born Aug. 15, 1923, in New York City. Her parents, Stella Gluscak and Frank Mazzetta, never married. According to her memoir, she later learned that, by the time she was born, her father, a suit-cutter, was married to another woman and was the father of that woman’s two children. Those children were named Rose and Frank — the same names given her and her younger brother.

She grew up in Manhattan with her mother’s family and would perform for their neighbors after seeing a movie or vaudeville show. The neighbors entered her in a talent contest, which she won with her dancing and singing. She said her father, now impressed, took her to Atlantic City to begin performing in nightclubs, where she became known as Baby Rose Marie.

Raspy Voice

“Word got around town about this three-year-old kid who sounded like Sophie Tucker, with a raspy, grown-up voice,” she recalled in “Hold the Roses,” her 2003 memoir. “I never sounded like the Shirley Temple ‘Good Ship Lollipop’ type. I have the voice today that I had when I was a child.”

She sang on radio station WPG in Atlantic City, then WMCA radio in New York City. NBC signed her to a seven-year contract and gave her, when she was six, a 15-minute nationwide radio show.

Her first film appearance was in the 1929 short, “Baby Rose Marie, the Child Wonder.”
After graduating high school in New Jersey — where her parents had moved to escape New York City’s strict child-labor rules — she resumed her career as Miss Rose Marie.
She co-headlined, along with Jimmy Durante, Xavier Cugat and others, on the opening night of Bugsy Siegel’s Flamingo Las Vegas in December 1946, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

She performed on Broadway in “Top Banana” in 1951 and then headed to television, appearing on such early shows as Milton Berle’s “Texaco Star Theater.” After her success on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” she was a regular on “The Hollywood Squares” starting in 1966.

She married trumpet player Bobby Guy in 1946. They had a daughter, Georgina Marie.

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