Press Contact for
Rose Marie:
B. Harlan Boll/BHBPR

Home Life of Radio's Baby Star Average
She's Idol of Children of her Neighborhood On New York's Lower East Side


 Say Family to Take Big White House on Long Island Next Fall.

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 famous.

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 song.

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 overworking."

"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."

2014 | 

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