Rose Marie: 90 Years a Trouper

Rose MarieVery few performers have ever managed to carve out a nine-decade career in show business, but that’s just what Rose Marie (Baby Rose Marie, to Cladrite Radio listeners) has done—and she’s still going strong. Since launching her career at the ripe old age of four (she had a weekly radio program that was broadcast nationally before Shirley Temple was even born), Rose Marie has enjoyed success in vaudeville, radio, records, motion pictures, Broadway, and television.

A delightful new documentary, Wait for Your Laugh, documents Rose Marie’s amazing life and career, and we’re delighted to share a very lightly edited transcript of a telephone conversation we recently had the pleasure of enjoying with her. Buckle your seat belts; it’s a delightfully wild ride. As you’ll soon see, Rose Marie is as sharp and as funny as ever.

Cladrite Radio:  I have a lot of things I’d like to talk to you about.

Rose Marie:  First of all, let me ask you a question.

Cladrite Radio:  Sure.

Rose Marie:  Did you see the movie [Wait for Your Laugh]?

Cladrite Radio:  I did!

Rose Marie:  What’d you think of it?

Cladrite Radio:  I loved it. I thought it was great.

Rose Marie:  What’d you like about it?

Cladrite Radio:  I’m very interested in the popular culture of the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s, in addition to …

Rose Marie:  That’s my era.

Cladrite Radio:  It sure is. I have an online radio station that features music of that era. I play some of your records on the station.

Rose Marie:  Oh, nice.

Cladrite Radio:  When I got the chance to interview you, I was so excited. I’m a fan of your music, and I grew up with you on TV as well.

Rose Marie:  I know, everybody says that. It makes me feel so old.

Cladrite Radio:  Oh, well, I’m not so young myself.

Rose Marie:  I’m 94, wanna bet?

Cladrite Radio:  You’re doing great. You’re probably doing better at 94 than I am at 59.

Rose Marie:  Okay.

Cladrite Radio:  I wanted to ask you about the documentary. Whose idea…

Rose Marie:  I’m very happy to tell you. I’m very proud of it. I love it. I’m so proud of [director] Jason Wise, I can’t stand it. I think he’s a genius. I think he’s going to be one of the biggest men in the business in a couple years. I think this will introduce him to everybody. I think he’ll even be bigger than Steven Spielberg.

Cladrite Radio:  I’ll bet he wouldn’t mind that a bit.

Rose Marie:  Oh, he’s wonderful. You have no idea. You don’t know how particular he is. When we decided to do this thing, I kept everything from the time I was three years old. Postcards, pictures, film, anything I had, I kept. When he talked about doing the documentary, he says, “Let’s talk.” I said, “I have everything in scrapbooks. Why don’t you just go through everything?” I emptied out my house, and I mean he cleaned me out of everything. He put it in that documentary. Just a genius.

Cladrite Radio:  All the materials that we see in the documentary, the film clips we see and some of the programs and promotional materials and various things that are included in it…

Rose Marie:  All mine. All mine that he dug up out of my house.
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Times Square Tintypes: W. C. Fields

In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles star of vaudeville, Broadway and the silver screen, W. C. Fields.

“NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK”

W. C. FIELDS. His real name is s.
Caricature of W. C. FieldsHe can’t rehearse his part in a play or picture without holding a cane in his hand.
His auto bears a California license plate merely because he likes the color of it.
Started his theatrical career as a juggler. At the enormous salary of $5 a week. Out of this he had to pay an agent a dollar and a half commission fee. His latest salary was $5,500 weekly as the star of the Earl Carroll Vanities. The agent’s making more also.
He wears snake-skin shoes. Never wears garters. Calls his socks, “droopies.”
Is an excellent caricaturist and could probably earn a living by drawing if he so desired.
Good comedy, he believes, is merely a matter of instinct.
He traveled around the world twice. Once making the westward passage. The other time the eastern passage. To him one of life’s little mysteries is why they lost or gained a day on the way around.
Wears silk underwear and sleeps in it. Sleeps lying flat on his belly with the pillow against his chest.
One of his first jobs in the theater was in a beer garden, the Fortesque Pavilion, Atlantic City. His task was to go in swimming and cry for help. Then two actors would rush to his aid, carry him back to the beer garden and revive him on the stage there. While this revival act was going on the waiters would sell beers to the crowd that had followed the drowning man to the pavilion.
Washes himself with black tar soap. Perfumes his bath with pine needles.
Is always juggling things by force of habit. Has six lemons on his bureau at home. When alone he amuses himself by juggling them.
Thinks the best French food is served in England. The best German food in America. And as far as American food is concerned he’d rather eat tall grass.
His nickname is “Pokey.”
He ran away from home at the age of eleven and became a hobo.
During his hobo career he was regarded as a Beau Brummell, because he washed once a day.
He made the longest jump on record. Jumped from Freemantle, Australia, traveling thirty-eight days and thirty-eight nights, to play a one-night stand in Syracuse, N. Y.
His two favorite expressions, which he made popular, are: “It ain’t a fit night for man nor beast” and “Never give a sucker an even break.”
He has a face that caricaturists love.
The thing that annoys him most in life is a radio. When entering a house that has one, he politely requests that it be turned off. He owns two radios. Has one in his dressing room. The other at home. They are to amuse his guests when he isn’t present.
He once passed the night in an Egyptian pyramid.
Recently he received a letter from the United States Government about his income tax. He had overpaid it at $1,250.
He eats only one meal a day. Never has breakfast or lunch. Only dinner. Occasionally, however, after the theater, he will have cheese, crackers and beer.
No matter how hard he tries he can’t raise a mustache. Has over a hundred false mustaches as part of his theatrical makeup. He wears the mustache, not on his lip, but on the tip of his nose. Thy have a trick clasp.
His favorite actor is Mussolini.
Among the things that burn him up and leave him cold are mustard, folks who get plastered on one highball, picnics, hand-embroidered handkerchiefs, chorus girls with curls, “Mammy” singers with Jewish accents and a pair of tight pants.
He played the stock market once. Then he bought five shares of stock on a tip. Almost went into a panic the next day when he couldn’t find the stock listed.
He once saved his life by juggling before a wild tribe in Africa.
He never smokes. Except when rehearsing a show or making a picture. Then he is an inveterate smoker, lighting one cigarette with the butt of another.
Like John Held, Jr., his library is in his bathroom.
While in Hollywood making pictures he received a broken neck. Today he can only turn his neck halfway to the left. He can, however, make a complete right turn.
He is the possessor of a Phi Beta Kappa key which he found.

 

Times Square Tintypes: John Golden

In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles theatrical producer John Golden.
 

“PURE AS THE DRIVEN SNOW”

JOHN GOLDEN. He’s the only man who produces clean sex plays. Yet he always manages to give the public what it wants. A shrewd showman, he realizes the value of publicity. Started the “clean” gag because of its healthy box office appeal. It has “it.”
Caricature of John GoldenWas once a bricklayer and the vice president of a chemical company. From the experience gained at the latter he is proficient in making gin.
He wrote the song “Poor Butterfly,” with Raymond Hubbell and Charles B. Dillingham. In fact, his managerial career started on a song. His royalty check for “Goodbye, Girls, I’m Through,” was $40,000. Gave it to Mrs. Golden for a present. She loaned it back to him to produce Turn to the Right.
His favorite actor is Muni Weisenfrend. He never says this without adding: “And Otto Kahn agrees with me.”
Is very much interested in what makes an audience go to a play. Once distributed a circular during the run of Pigs inquiring, “What made you attend this show?” Seventy per cent of the answers were variations of “Because a friend told me about it.”
As a bricklayer he helped build the Garrick Theatre.
For the last thirty years the annual Lambs’ Washing has been held on his estate at Bayside.
He was a partner of Cohan and Harris in the production of Hawthorne of the U. S. A. His task was to pal about with Douglas Fairbanks, seeing that the young acrobat didn’t hurdle over taxicabs and climb up buildings.
He is superstitious. Likes to have a numeral in the title of his plays. Remember: The 1st Year, 2 Girls Wanted, 3 Wise Fools, 4 Walls and 7th Heaven. Considers 27 his lucky number. In roulette and other numerical games of chance he will bet huge amount on it.
He organized the Producing Managers Association. This led to the famous actors’ strike.
The man he quotes most is Ring Lardner.
Is not fussy about clothing. Never goes to a store to purchase wearing apparel. If he needs another tie, shirt or suit, he merely telephones for it.
Thinks Atlantic City and Miami are the only vacation spots worth knowing.
He is one of the few producers who treat the theater as if it were a business. Is in his office by nine every morning and leaves at five. Is in bed every night at ten. He never attends the theater in the evenings. Goes only to matinées. Misses every opening night. Even his own.
Owns the original Old Kentucky Home, having bought the Stephen Foster homestead in Federal Hill to save it from being torn down.
He realizes the value of flattery. Gets the most out of people he is associated with by using it.
His favorite tryout town is Elmira, N. Y. Believes it to be lucky and opens all his shows there.
Was the first to cover the front of a theatre with an electric sign. Did it with 3 Wise Fools at the Criterion. Then the movies took up the idea . . . And how!
He hates the word “clean.” Refrains from using it in his conversations. When it slips out accidentally, he looks embarrassed.
He has collaborated on songs with Irving Berlin, Douglas Fairbanks, Oscar Hammerstein, Victor Herbert and Woodrow Wilson.
Always puts on his glasses when he talks on the telephone.
His hobby is collecting “the key to the city.” He has framed in his office keys to twenty-seven of the most important cities in the United States.
He hates dogs and cringes when he sees one.
Has a barber shop in his office, fully equipped. Every day at twelve a barber appears and shaves him. Every other week he takes a haircut.
His home in Bayside has eight bedrooms. He sleeps in a different room each night, according to his mood.

Times Square Tintypes: Samuel Shipman

In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles Samuel Shipman, a playwright of some prominence in the first half of the twentieth century.
 
 
NO MAN IS A HERO TO HIS VALET
 
SAMUEL SHIPMAN. When he was graduated from Columbia this line appeared under his picture in the college book: “God Makes Some Strange Things.”
His first play, which he wrote at the age of twelve, was something called Justice. It was performed at the Jewish Educational Alliance.
He is marvelously unkempt. Even after he has had a shave and a haircut he needs a shave and a haircut.
As a kid he wore phony jewelry to appear rich.
Writes all his plays in Atlantic City. He engages a suite in one of the exclusive hotels. He always takes two stenographers an a collaborator with him. He dictates everything he writes. Paces the floor and is often in another room shouting the lines. The stenographers work in relays, one resting while the other is taking the dictation.
He never sleeps more than four hours a day. And always one of these hours is between five and six in the morning.
He made a million dollars in royalties from Friendly Enemies and East Is West. So did Wall Street.
Likes to drink and play with tea. Is always pouring the tea from the glass to the saucer and then back into the glass.
Has only one superstition. That is he must start an finish his plays on a Tuesday. It doesn’t matter if the Tuesdays are months apart.
He once taught English in an East Side school.
Everything he does he describes as “terrific.”
Has only one superstition: that is, theatrical notables. Eugene O’Neill, for example, he believes is only an intellectualized Theodore Kremer. Claims the only thing he likes about George Jean Nathan is H. L. Mencken. A. H. Woods is his favorite producer. Because whenever he hands that impresario a flop Woods never cries, but merely says: “It’s all right, sweetheart; try again.”
He rarely eats meat. His favorite meal is one composed solely of caviar.
Likes to go prowling about the city at night and often sets out at midnight, alone.
The sight of fish fascinates him. He is a frequent visitor at the Aquarium.
He never hangs up anything. His clothes are sprawled about the house. On entering he tosses his hat anywhere. His coat is dropped on the living room floor; the vest on the bedroom floor. His trousers he carefully places at the foot of his bed. He dresses faster than a fireman.
To date he has had twelve collaborators. His favorite is John B. Hymer because Hymer understands him.
He wants to know everything before anyone else.
Never reads a book during the winter. Every summer he goes for a vacation in the Catskill Mountains, taking two valises full of books with him.
Doesn’t like young girls. Never goes out with a lady under thirty-five.
Never falls in love with an actress. His sweetheart is a nonprofessional. Her parents, however, dislike everything connected with the theater and won’t allow him in the house.
His ambition in life is to write the libretto of an opera and to have it presented at the Metropolitan Opera House.
He suffers from indigestion. His secretary carries his pills and reminds him when he has indigestion.
At Columbia he studied playwriting under Brander Matthews, who gave him a C minus. He asked that his mark be raised and Matthews asked why. Shipman then pulled out a contract for a play he had just sold. Matthews merely replied: “It’s the old story. Theory is theory and practice is practice.”
He covered the Ruth Snyder case for a tabloid newspaper.
Never cleans his shoes on the outside, but only inside. This, he claims, is healthy for the feet.
He can recite most of Ibsen’s plays from memory. While writing a play his teeth become loose; in fact, so loose that he can pluck them. To date he has plucked six. The minute the play is finished his teeth tighten. He is continually visiting dentists because of this condition.
The greatest disappointment one can get in life, he believes, is meeting somebody one had heard a lot about.
One evening at the Lambs Club Eugene O’Neill was playing poker with a group of playwrights. After losing all his money O’Neill offered to play on his ability as a dramatist. After another hour of heavy losing O’Neill got up and started for home. As he was leaving the doorman said: “Good night, Mr. Shipman.”
The only time he ever combs his hair is before going to bed.

Pitch perfect: communities

As the Pitch Perfect series continues, today we feature a 1949 collection of advertising slogans used to market cities and civic campaigns.

America’s birthplace (Plymouth Colony Assn.), Plymouth, Wisc.
America’s dairyland (Wisconsin).
America’s home town (Plymouth Colony Assn.).
America’s lake country (The Thousand Lakes Assn.), St. Paul.
America’s Mediterranean (Miami Shores), Miami.
America’s only tropics (Coral Gables), Miami.
At the seashore, in the country, near the city (Lido Beach), New York.

Birth state of the nation (Pennsylvania).

Center of scenic America (Salt Lake City).
City that does things, The (Norfolk, Va.).
City of destiny (Tacoma).
City of industrial opportunity, The (Warren, Pa.).
Clean up and paint up (Nat. Clean Up Campaign Bureau), New York.
Clean, paint up and fix up (Nat. Clean Up Campaign Bureau).
Climate best by government test (Redwood City, Calif.).
Cool off in Colorado.
Cordage city, The (Auburn, N. Y.).
Crossroads of the Pacific (Hawaii).

Dallas is the door to Texas.
Double crossroads of America (Indianapolis).
Dynamo of Dixie, The (Chattanooga, Tenn.).

Enchanted land of opportunity, Florida.

Find your place in the sun (San Francisco Peninsula).
For cleanliness, thrift and civic pride (Nat. Clean Up Campaign).
Forging a share in victory (Thompson McLaughlin Co.), Portland, Me.
Forward with Memphis, since ’69.

Give them life and make it worth living (United Jewish Appeal).
Give to conquer cancer (American Cancer Society).
Good citizenship is good business (Nat. Clean Up Campaign).
Great state in which to live and work, A (Rhode Island).

Heart of America, The (Missouri).
Heart of the fruit belt, The (Benton Harbor, Mich.).
Help others help themselves (Salvation Army).
Hub city of the southeast, The (Spartanburg, S. C.).
Hub of the Americas (New Orleans).
Hub of the highways, The (Cape Girardeau Bridge, Mo.).
Hub of world flight (Mass. Development & Industrial Comm.), Boston.

Inside the sins of adventure (Manitoba, Canada).
Isle of June (Nassau Development Board, Nassau).
It is profitable to produce in Massachusetts.
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