Marie's autobiography HOLD
available from the
Press of Kentucky
hear the audience applauding
and screaming and someone yelling,
‘Bring the kid back!’
I threw the roses down and said,
‘Hold the roses. I
can’t take my bow!’”
“Not only has Rose Marie written a most entertaining
memoir, but she has given us a child’s eye view and an
adult’s eye view of her work in radio, film, vaudeville and nightclubs.”
“Rose Marie found me in Cleveland, brought me to
Hollywood, and introduced me to show business. I couldn’t have
had a nicer, kinder, funnier lady as a tour guide. She will always
occupy a special place in my thoughts. I’ll be at the bookstore
waiting for the fun Hold the Roses will provide.”
Most of us remember Rose Marie as the wisecracking Sally Rogers on
The Dick Van Dyke Show, or recognize her from her perch in the top
middle square on Hollywood Squares, but her career in show business
has spanned almost seventy years.
At the tender age of three Rose Marie Mazzetta was entered in an
amateur contest at New York City’s Mecca Theatre. Her rendition
of “What Can I Say Dear, After I Say I’m Sorry?” won,
and her career was launched. She stayed “Baby Rose Marie”
until she was well into her teens, singing in nightclubs, on
vaudeville stages, on the radio, and in the movies.
It was a glamorous but difficult life—she worked side by side
with legends such as Al Jolson, Milton Berle, and W.C. Fields, and
was watched over by “Uncle” Al Capone and his
associates—but her father managed her career and personal life
with an iron fist, gambling her earnings away and abusing her and any
boy foolish enough to show an interest in the family meal ticket.
Rose Marie married trumpeter Bobby Guy in 1946 and continued as a
singer and nightclub entertainer. She soon established a second
career on the small screen, most prominently as Sally on the
legendary Dick Van Dyke Show, a groundbreaking role for which she
earned three Emmy nominations and which continues to gather new fans
from reruns on TV Land. Her fourteen years on Hollywood Squares and
recent guest spots on such hit shows as Murphy Brown and Caroline in
the City have kept her in the spotlight.
With candor and humor, Rose Marie tells of her 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.
Excerpt from HOLD
Between the pages of this
book you will find the story of a sixty-five-year career in show
business. I started working as a child star on radio, performed on
vaudeville, grew up to play the big night clubs and hotels, and
graduated to working with all of the greats of show
business—Jolson, Benny, Burns and Allen, Red Skelton, Phil
Silvers, and Milton Berle, to name a few.
I was raised by a mother who
was a naďve, Polish lady who believed everything she was told.
My father was a tyrant who had another family and never married my
mother. He gambled away all the money I made as a child, and my
mother never knew a thing about it. He beat me because he was jealous
of anybody I ever went out with. I eloped with a musician who tried,
in every way, to prove to my parents that he was a good man and who
went through hell because my father feared losing his meal
ticket—me. My marriage of twenty years was the best thing that
ever happened to me. We moved to California and a whole new life of
respect, love, happiness, and security. We had a beautiful daughter.
I love and respect show
business. We have been inseparable all of my life. Here I tell the
intimate stories of my years in the business, the hardships and the
good times and how they shaped my character and my career. I also
tell about some of the so-called Big Stars who are angels to the
public and anything but in real life. Most people don’t know
that I was helped by Mafia influences (Al Capone, Frank Costello,
Bugsy Siegel, and Joe Adonis). I opened the Flamingo Hotel for Bugsy
Siegel when I was 6 months pregnant and Vegas was still primarily a
desert and the Flamingo was only the third hotel there.
During the lean years I
struggled to keep my career going because if I didn’t work, we
didn’t eat. Later I struggled to become an actress on TV and in
the movies so I could stay home with my husband and daughter. I
appeared on series and variety shows. I never stopped working. I
refused to give up.
This book is not your usual
Hollywood memoir. It is not about who I screwed but rather who
Who knew Rose Marie led such an engaging life?
Reviewed by David Marshall James, Copyright The State, Posted on
Sun, Jan. 26, 2003
HOLD THE ROSES by Rose Marie University Press of Kentucky, 284
Long before "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Doris
Day Show" and "Hollywood Squares," Rose Marie was a
"Baby Rose Marie," that is: star of a weekly NBC radio
show in the early '30s, headliner in vaudeville and co-star with W.C.
Fields in the 1933 movie "International House." She horsed
around in Franklin Roosevelt's Oval Office, upstaged Al Jolson - much
to his chagrin - at the debut of "The Jazz Singer" in 1927
and got a diamond ring from Al Capone.
For her 16th birthday, Glenn Miller's Orchestra performed while
Tony Martin serenaded her then whirled her around the dance floor.
She played all the big nightclubs across the country during the '40s,
from Ciro's in Los Angeles to the Copacabana in New York, and was one
of the first entertainers to take an act to Las Vegas. You'll be
surprised by her anecdotes featuring Bugsy Siegel, as well as all
"the boys" behind the scenes of her engagements at top venues.
For instance, at a club date in Miami during the '40s, she asked
the mob boss for the name of a horse that couldn't lose, and got it.
And you thought all that stuff was a bunch of malarkey?
Friends in high places aside, by her own account, Rose Marie has
lived a clean life sans booze and umpteen lovers. She relates how
Vincent Price - concerned that she wouldn't offer libations - showed
up early for a dinner party with two cases of wine.
She married only once, to a trumpet player in Kay Kyser's band who
went on to work with Bing Crosby and on "The Tonight Show."
They had one daughter before his death during the production of
"The Dick Van Dyke Show."
Although never the success in the movies that she has been on TV,
Rose Marie has performed thousands of times in dozens of theatrical
productions including "Top Banana" with Phil Silvers and
"4 Girls 4" with Rosemary Clooney, Helen O'Connell and
With a veritable lifetime of show business credits, the author -
who'll turn 80 in August - has packed the pages of her memoir with
unforgettable vignettes sating back to the Roaring Twenties. It would
make a great show.
Nice work, Rose Marie. Take a bow.
David Marshall James is a Columbia writer.