Life of Radio's Baby Star Average
Idol of Children of her Neighborhood
On New York's Lower East Side
Family to Take Big White House on Long Island
Cumberland Evening Times,
Thursday, May 8, 1930 (appeared in other
papers as well)
New York, May 8 -- Mention Baby Rose Marie to a radio fan and he'll ask,
after expressing amazement that the little
blues-crooner is only 5 years old--"How
in the world did she get that way?"
Come down to the grimy old gashouse district
in Manhattan's lower east side, and find
out. For here, among the dingy tenements
and narrow streets and foreign-quarter speakeasies,
is the home of the diminutive radio star.
here Rose Marie was born and here she has
lived to be 5 years and 9 months old--and
A taxi bounced along East 17th street
and came toa stop at No. 616, an ugly
brick flat-building just like a thousand
others in the vicinity. Across the street
is a municipal ash dump, mountain high,
and noisy trucks toiled up its spiral road
to loose their dusty burdens at the summit.
Heads craned from upstairs windows as the
taxi halted, and every urchin in the block
came on the run. Rose Marie--their Rose
marie--was home from another triumph.
What had she done this time, up at those
mysterious studios of the National Broadcasting
Company? Oh sung all by herself. But with
Rudy Vallee next time--Gee!--and over 47
stations. Going to sing "Ain'tcha"
and "Just Can't Be Bothered!"
They'd be listening. Everybody on 17th street
sould be listening. So would millions and
millions of other folks from coast to coast.
Rose Marie was glad to get home and into
her old clothes. Pretty soon she would be
out on the street with her tricycle and
doll buggy and her white rabbit. There's
been a lot of talk lately that next fall
the family will move out of this neighborhood
and take a big white house on Long Island.
That doesn't sound so good to Rose Marie.
She loves this street, and these dirty-faced
playmates, and the first floor rear apartment
that is home.
May Leave District
Rose Marie was glad to have visitors.
She had something very important to say,
and her dark eyes sparkled as she stood
on tip-toe and whispered: "I got a
new doll today. In a pink dress, and I'll
show her to you. And maybe mama will play
and I'll sing you the new song I learned
this morning. I only heard it twice and
I noly know the chorus. It's 'When You're
Smiling,' and it's hot. Come on in."
The long hall was dark and narrow, but
it ended at the bright, spotless kitchen
of the Curley apartment. Through this was
the Curley living room, crowded with comfortable
furniture, a cabinet radio, an upright piano
and a score of framed photos and litographed
song covers bearing likenesses of Baby Rose
marie in a variety of vivacious poses.
The big florid man was Papa Curley. He
sells sheet music for a publishing house
now, but before he went into vaudeville
about 20 years ago his name was Frank Mazetta.
An Italian, but American born like his wife,
who is of Polish parentage. Mrs. Mazetta-Curley,
if you please-is about 28, dresses quietly
but well, is soft-spoken, completely efacive.
And there, in a faded little play dress
and well-scuffed sandals, was Baby Rose
Marie, prodigal paradox, 5-year-old sophisticate,
east-side urchin who has won the hearts
of a nation's radio fans. Oblivious now
of the "comp'ny," she was singing
to the new doll. But her song was not "Rock
a Bye Baby," or "Sleep, Baby Sleep."
Rose Marie never heard of them! In a low,
throaty voice, she was crooning a blues
In fact, the first song she ever learned--before
she was old enough to pronounce the three-syllable
words--was "What Shall I Say, Dear
After I Say I'm Sorry?"
"Well," said Papa Curley, defensively,
"what could we do about it? Before
she was out of the cradle she was shaking
her shoulders to the jazz pieces on the
radio. Before she was able to talk she was
singin' what sounded like little snatches
of popular lyrics. When we'd tune off a
dance orchestra she'd bust out cryin.'
"What chance, I ask you, has Mother
Goose got with a kid like that?"
"She gets a lot of her stuff right
off the radio, without any help from us.
Being in the sheet music business, I pick
up quite a lot of numbers, and those she
likes we play for her over and over. It's
no trouble to get her to pracice. We have
to stop her lots of times to keep her from
"Most of this popular stuff nowadays
is kinda suggestive, you know, and not exactly
appropriate for a kid of 5. So when we come
to these places I make up some new lyrics,
or take out some words that would not sound
just right. She learns--"
"Over in the park, where we play,"
broke in Rose Marie, "I teach some
of the kids how to sing, too. But they're
not so hot. There was a boy over there one
day and he told me it wasn't nice to try
to sing these grown-up songs. That's what
he said: it wasn't nice. I smacked him good!"
Much of Rose Marie's radio success has
been due to the clarity of her enunciation.
The reason is simple: her parents never
spoke to her in baby-talk nor allowed her
to use it.
She hasn't been sick a day in her life,"
said Mr. Curley. "Weighs 56 pounds
now, and is more than three and a half feet
tall. We give her very little meat, plenty
of vegetables and lots of milk. No, no spinach.
We see that she totals 12 hours or more
of sleep every day, but we have to leave
the radio on when she goes to bed."
"And sometimes," said Rose
Marie, "they play some new pieces,
and I get so hot and bothered that I want
to get up again."
"Swims like a fish," continued
her father. "Gets plenty of exercise
with the kids, too. But she keeps herself
clean and will speand an hour in the tub,
all the time warbling 'Singing In the Bathtub."
Up the street is a parochial school where
Rose marie started to kindergarten not long
ago. They tell how she came running home
after the first day. "Mother,"
she said, "that teacher ain't so hot.
She wanted us to sing, and I found out she
didn't know a single one of my numbers."