Actress Rose Marie, who rose to national fame in the 1960s playing wisecracking Sally Rogers on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’, died Thursday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94.
Though the actress was best known for playing Sally Rogers, her show business career goes back 90 years, starting when she was a child singer performing under the name Baby Rose Marie.
Born Rose Marie Mazetta, she was known as “the child wonder”. She starred on her NBC radio show at age 5, and played opposite W.C. Fields in the 1933 film ‘International House’, according to Variety.
It wasn’t an easy life. In her 2002 autobiography ‘Hold The Roses’, the performer described her family in harsh terms:
I was raised by a mother who was a naïve, 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.
Rose Marie said mobsters like Al Capone and Bugsy Siegel helped her career as a child star.
She was one of the headliners when Siegel opened the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas in 1946, but her comedic career didn’t really take off until she was cast on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’, considered one of the all-time great sitcoms, in 1961.
Marie appeared in all five seasons and was nominated for Emmys in 1963, 1964 and 1966, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The experience was a highlight of her life, she said in a 2004 interview with The Hollywood Reporter:
We were always changing lines, even right up to the very minute of going on the air. If something didn’t work, it didn’t work. Sometimes guest stars would panic because they weren’t used to this. We were a tight-knit, hard-working crew. I couldn’t wait to get to the set each day.
Rose Marie was a popular TV guest star through the 1970s, and received public attention earlier this year with the release of ‘Wait For Your Laugh’, a documentary film about her nine decades in showbiz.
Earlier this month, she wrote a piece for The Hollywood Reporter about her own experience with sexual harassment during Hollywood’s golden age.
Rose Marie was married to trumpeter Bobby Guy from 1946 until his death in 1964. She is survived by her daughter, Georgiana Marie, and her son-in-law, Steven Rodrigues.