Brings Home The Bacon
1930 Radio Digest
Rose Marie and her family still ive in the
poor downtown district of New York.
entertains the kids on her block and gives
them gifts and toys.
This yarn should really be called Baby
Brings Home the Caviar. Bacon? Much too
prosaic--and inexpensive. Like reversing
the old saw, and craving beer with a champagne
For this is a story of several Radio
kiddies whose incomes are more than then
thousand dollars a year. Nearly all are
the children of foreign born parents whose
fathers are incapable of earning more than
$35 a week.
At the top of the list is a five year
old tenement child whose income will be
more than $100,000 a year. $100,000 worth
of boop-boop-a doop!
Perhaps you’ve heard of Baby Rose Marie,
crooning, coon-shouding Radio child prodigy.
Or seen her in vaudeville or the “talkies”
and marvelled at her. Then, her story and
a look into her home might be of interest
The writer first saw her in vaudeville
at the age of three and a half. Rose Marie
came out wrapped in a msart little coat--did
her number in a hard-boiled, astonishingly
coarse shout, calmly and professional removed
the coat, hung it up and did two more numbers.
When she finished she bowed her way off
with the air of a young lady who had been
boop-a-dooping for twenty years.
The house was quiet for a second afterward.
Then there was very little applause. A strange
man turned in his seat and remakred as though
talking to himself: “Gosh, I’ll be darned
if I know whether to laugh or cry!”
She was clever. But, from the stage there
was none of the child about her. She left
you with sort of an aching belief that something
had been taken from her. A year and a half
later I met her and came to know the real
Baby Rose Marie.
It was an interview arranged by the National
Broadcasting Company, who have her under
contract. She came with her father. It was
summer and she was dressed in a filmy, stagey
dress with her black hair sleeked down and
her dark brown eyes sparkling with mischief.
For a little while her father stood close
by and answered most of the staid questions
that usually go to make up an interview.
Then someone came in and he went over in
a corner to talk with them.
Rose Marie leaned over suddenly and put
her elbows on my knees. For a full minute
she played with a necklace of bright beads
and tried to make up her mind whether she
was among friends. Suddenly she grinned
and climber on my lap.
“Ah, ain’t this the old applue sauce!”
“What’s apple sauce?”
“Ah, you know,” she shook her head knowingly,
“all these things I’m supposed to say.”
Deciding to let the young lady conduct
her own interview after that I cuddled her
comfortably and, casting a sly look at her
father she began in a low stage whisper:
“Do you know where I live? I live ‘way
over on the East Side--you know where the
tenement houses are at 616 East 17th Street.
Right across from a big city ash dump and
I bet I play with a hundred kids ever’ day.
You oughta see ‘em. I don’t think they ever
wash. And they are ever’ nationality in
“Know what I am? My name ain’t Rose Marie
Curley. It’s Mazetta. They say Curley cause
it don’t sound like a foreigner. My pop
is Italian and my mom Polish. She worked
in a restaurant. Pop drove a truck once--but
he don’t no more ‘cause I keep ‘em so busy
looking after me. I mean he manages my affairs.”
This precicious child mixing big words
with childish philosophy went on naively:
“We live in a awful dump--you know a
reg’lar tenement, right where I was born.
But, it’s swell inside. All modern. We got
a piano, victrola, Radio, pretty curtains
and flowers and swell stuffed furniture.
Grandma--mom’s ma, lives with us and she
don’t even speak English. Aint’ that funny?
“You ought to see my kid brother. He
is ten months old and--don’t you think I’m
lyin’--but, he can sing a jazz song. Not
the words. But, I hum and he sings with
me and shakes his shoulders. You’d die!
He won’t do it for nobody else but me. I
guess he’ll be in my act when he’s about
two if the kid’s society will let him. The
old meddlers! Always stickin’ their nose
in our business. His name is Frank, junior.”
A little later when she paused for breath
“And Rose Marie, what are you going to
do with all of your money?”
She put her hand on hip:
“Sa-ay! Ask me! What would a woman do
with her money? Spend it on duds, of course.
I got about forty-eight dresses.”
“Why not buy an airplane?”
Rose Marie looked astonished.
“Get me up in one of them old crates.
Not while I’m right in the bean. I got to
live and make lots of money.”
She went on again in her husky little
“I can’t read or write. But, I’m pretty
smart. A big professor from Columbia University
asked me a lot of questions once and when
he got through he told ‘em I was a most
unusual kid and that I had brains. I can
just print my name. I learned how to spell
it from the electric lights at the theatre.
Honest I did.”
Here she proceeded to hunt pencil and
paper and laboriously prove her point.
“See! Not so bad--not so good. Give me
time. I just went to school one day. Mom
fixed me up swell--but I had a awful time.
I had a nice clean dress on and white shoes.
And they made us get in a funny line and
there was a nasty boy behind me and I guess
it worried him because I was the only kid
at kindergarten that had clean shoes. Cause
he reached over and rubbed dirt on ‘em.
Imagine! I went home and I says to mom that
them eggs ain’t civilized and I guessed
I’d stay at home. She agreed and I ain’t
been back since.”
She paused once for breath and inquired
“Anything else you’d like to know?”
Then without waiting for an answer she
went on jabbering:
“Oh, dear me, Susie! I forgot one of
the most important things they always make
me tell. I know more than eighty songs.
Jazz and ballads. All the words and the
music. I never forget once I’ve learned
a number. you know how I was discovered,
“Pop come in one day when I was two and
I was standing in the middle of the floor
singing like Sophie Tucker. He nearly passed
out and called Mom and she played the piano
for me and they said they guessed they wouldn’t
have much to worry about if they could get
me booked on the stage. Well, they did.
Here I am.
“No I don’t want you to hink I’m braggin’
like a ham actor does but, you know, I was
only nine months old when I talked. When
I was thirteen months old I carred on a
regular conversation. And I won an amateur
stage prize when I was two.
A little later she sighed, weary of her
“Oh, don’t ask me how I got this way.
Don’t ask me!”
Let no noe think Baby Rose Marie’s monologue
has been elaborated upon. As a matter of
fact--it is impossible to do it justice.
At times she broke into song and made wise
cracks that would sound so blase and impossible
in a kiddle of her age that, lest we be
accused of having a wild imagination, they
have been eliminated.
And, with it all, she is a sweet baby.
Not a hardboiled little grown-up baby, but
a cuddly, affectionate child when she isn’t
“putting on an act” for the benefit of her
“public”. Like most stage children she puts
on her act at the slightest provocation
and any willing listener is her public.
But, later at her tenement home--which
by the way is in one of the worst sections
of its kind in town--we found her playing
in the street, the idol of her block. She
had several toy animals beside her and a
crowd of youngsters that made it look like
the setting for a tenement movie.
Rose Marie is the queen of her block.
For doesn’t her own shiny car sit in front
of the door? And hasn’t she always plenty
of money to treat the other kids to ice
cream and lollypops? She is a generous little
one--and is unhappy unless she shares with
the other boys and girls who aren’t fortunate
enough to be Radio headliners.
Often she stands on the back of her car
and puts on a show for them. It is an amazing
site . . . dozens of kiddies in the street
and women of every nationality, shawl-drapped
heads shaking approvingly from the windows,
keeping time to her boop-boop-a-doop!
At present the Mazetta’s are on the way
to Hollywood where Rose Marie will play
in Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland. She
has been touring in vaudeville several weeks
en route. “They say” her salary is $1,000
a week--and that with her Radio and movie
salary she will bring into the Mazetta coffers
well over $100,000 this year.
It will be interesting to watch the Mazetta’s
climb to fame and fortune on the shoulders
of their first born. They have made no attempt
so far to improve their living conditions,
even though Rose Marie’s income for a long
time would have permitted them to move almost
anywhere in New York they might care to
live. They seem to be perfectly happy among
their old friends in their foreign tenement