The star of such classic TV programs as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Hollywood Squares” and “The Doris Day Show” is still going strong at age 92. Jason Wise is directing a documentary on the singer-actor called “The Rose Marie Movie,” she’ll appear in helmer David Green’s upcoming “Sold,” and she’s set to receive the Shirley Temple Award from the Actors Fund on Dec. 3. Her first mention in Variety came from its founder Sime Silverman, for short film “The Child Wonder,” more than 85 years ago. Wrote Silverman: “Though but a kidlet, she seemed to have an idea of her own.”
How did you get your start in showbiz?
I’ve been in this business 90 years. When I was 3 years old, I won an amateur contest. I sounded like I do now; I didn’t sound like a child. I made my name in radio. I had my own radio show on NBC called “Coast to Coast.” Shirley Temple was a movie star; I was a radio star. People said I was a (small adult) because I didn’t sound like a child, so I traveled around the country doing live shows.
When did you come to Hollywood?
I got into TV in 1948 — “The Milton Berle Show,” back East. I came out here after I got married. No one had heard of me. I traveled around the country and performed in all the best nightclubs in Chicago, Los Angeles. In its review, Variety said, “Rose Marie, we love you,” and because of that, I was asked to go to Las Vegas and work with Jimmy Durante at the Flamingo. I opened the Flamingo in 1946.
What about television?
The TV shows came later. I did “Gunsmoke,” “Cagney & Lacey.” I did every TV show. I did “The Dick Van Dyke Show” for five years. It was the best show in the world. I did “Doris Day” for three years.
Do you still keep in touch with your old castmates?
I just spoke with Doris Day last week. She’s a wonderful lady. She is everything you see. I still keep in touch with Dick Van Dyke. I go over to his house. I see Carl Reiner a lot.
I’ve been in this business for so long, and I’ve loved every bit of it.