Rose Marie: 90 Years a Trouper

Few entertainers in history have enjoyed as long a career as did Rose Marie, born 97 years ago today. Her career began when she was just four years old (known then as Baby Rose Marie, she had a weekly radio program that was broadcast nationally before Shirley Temple was even born), and she went on to enjoy success in vaudeville, radio, records, motion pictures, Broadway, and television.

In 2017, a delightful documentary, Wait for Your Laugh, was released that told the story of her amazing life and career, and we’re delighted to share a very lightly edited transcript of a telephone conversation we had with her shortly after the film’s release. Buckle your seat belts; it’s a delightfully wild ride. As you’ll soon see, even at 94, Rose Marie was 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 am involved with an online radio station that features music of that era. We 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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Happy Birthday, Jimmy Durante!

The delightful Jimmy Durante was born 122 years ago today. If ever we find ourselves fretting over our age and perhaps wishing we were younger, we remind ourselves that, were we born later, we might not have shared time on God’s green earth with some of our favorite performers of years gone by, and the Schnozzola certainly deserves a spot on that roster. We weren’t around for his heyday, but he was still a busy performer when we were younger and we got to enjoy him as a frequent talk show and variety show guest.

Durante doesn’t immediately spring to mind when we’re asked to name some of our favorite stars of yore, but when we do think of him, a smile invariably forms on our lips, and that’s as strong an endorsement as any performer could hope for: to make people smile at the mere memory of you some 35 years after your passing.

Happy birthday, Mr. Durante, wherever you are. Give our best to Mrs. Calabash.

Jimmy Durante quote

Times Square Tintypes: J. P. McEvoy

In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles author and playwright J. P. McEvoy.

“JUST GREETINGS”

Caricature of J. P. McEvoyJ. P. McEVOY. Two days after he was born this greeting card arrived:.

(To Mrs. McEvoy On The Occasion of Her Son’s Birth.)

I hear that Dame Fortune has been kindly
And blessed you with a boy so fine
And given you something to be proud of
In future years when you sit by a lonesome pine.

May he grow up to be healthy and sturdy
And good to his mother and true,
And be loved by countless millions
As he is loved by YOU.

His first piece of writing appeared in the South Bend News. He inserted a job-wanted advertisement.
For some unknown reason he is afraid to enter a laundry.
Lives at Woodstock, N. Y. Is the proud possessor of two blessed events and a St. Bernard dog. The two children are now attending school in California. The dog, dying of loneliness, is to be shipped there next week.
The only jewelry he wears is a black opal ring. Wears this because everyone says it is unlucky.
Is very fond of people who resemble him.
He saves unused return postal cards.
Never actually writes a play or story. He dictates everything. Always has two secretaries working. Never revises any of his manuscripts. Show Girl has fourteen chapters. It was dictated at fourteen settings.
He is unable to part his hair.
Believes there should be a law against bed makers who never tuck in the sheets at the foot of the bed.
As far as comedians go he starts laughing if he’s in the same city as Jimmy Durante.
Always buys two copies of a book. One to read and one to lend.
His full name is Joseph Patrick McEvoy. His mother name him Joseph. His father named him Patrick. Not caring for either, he became J. P. McEvoy.
He has a picture of his wife in every room.
Still receives royalties on some of the greeting cards he wrote. His favorite is the following:

Eve had no Xmas
Neither did Adam.
Never had socks,
Nobody had ’em.
Never got cards,
Nobody did.
Take this and have it
On Adam, old kid.

He was once an amateur wrestler. Gave it up because he didn’t like being on the floor.
He hates to see people in wet bathing suits.
His first book to be published was a volume of poetry titled Slams of Life. He has the names of those who bought it. Two more sales and he could have formed a club.
Smokes a cigar from the moment he turns off the shower in the morning until he puts on his pajamas at night.
His pet aversions are women’s elbows, chocolate candy all melted together, fishing stories, fishermen, fish, Laugh, Clown, Laugh; radio talks on how to make hens lay, buying new shoes, mixed quartets, Laugh, Clown, Laugh; runs in silk stockings, three-piece orchestras, waiters who breathe down his neck and Laugh, Clown, Laugh.
When in New York he puts up at the Algonquin. If working on a story or play he and his wife occupy separate rooms.

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