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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Happy 115th (or thereabouts) Birthday, Norma Shearer!

There seems to be widespread confusion regarding Norma Shearer’s date of birth. Some sources say she was born on August 10, others say August 11, and The New York Times​, in its 1983 obituary, cites August 15. The year is in question too: Was she born in 1900, 1902 or 1904?

We trying to cover all our bases by sharing this tribute on the 10th but using the 11th as her birthdate in the video. Whichever date you prefer, we hope you enjoy the video. Happy birthday, Ms. Shearer, wherever you may be!

Here are 10 things you should know about Norma Shearer…

Happy 114th Birthday, Dorothy Mackaill!

Actress Dorothy Mackaill was born 114 years ago today in Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, England. Here are 10 DM Did-You-Knows:

  • Mackaill’s parents separated when she was eleven, after which she lived with her father.
  • As a teen, she left home for London in pursuit of a career acting on the stage. After a short sting in Paris, she met a Broadway choreographer who convinced her to move to New York City.
  • That move paid off, as she was soon made a Follies Girl in the The Ziegfeld Follies and met actresses Marion Davies and Nita Naldi.
  • In 1920, Mackaill made her motion picture debut in a movie mystery, The Face at the Window, and also appeared in a number of comedies opposite actor Johnny Hines.
  • In 1921, Mackaill’s career received another boost when she was cast in Bits of Life, along with Anna May Wong, Noah Beery and Lon Chaney.
  • Mackaill’s star-making role came in 1924, when she appeared in The Man Who Came Back opposite leading man George O’Brien. She was also named, along with Clara Bow and eleven other starlets, a WAMPAS Baby Star.
  • The arrival of talking pictures didn’t appear to present a problem for Mackaill—she worked steadily in the early years of the sound era—but she was signed with First National Pictures, which merged with Warner Brothers in 1928, and when her contract ended in 1931, Warners declined to renew it.
  • Mackaill continued to work as a free agent, but the roles came less frequently—she made just eight pictures in the next six years before retiring in 1937 to care for her ailing mother.
  • In 1955, Mackaill moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, a locale she’d very much enjoyed while filming His Captive Woman there in 1929. She resided at the deluxe Royal Hawaiian Hotel on the beach at Waikiki, swimming in the ocean on a near-daily basis.
  • Mackaill acted just three times after 1937, making a single appearance on the anthology television series Studio One in Hollywood in 1953 and two guest spots (in 1976 and 1980) on Hawaii Five-O, which certainly made for an easy commute to work. When she passed away in 1990, her ashes were scattered off her beloved Waikiki beach.

Happy birthday, Dorothy Mackaill, wherever you may be!

Dorothy Mackaill

Times Square Tintypes: Times Square

In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles not a person, but the Crossroads of the World, the area that gave Skolsky’s book its name—Times Square.

MY STREET

FORTY-SECOND Street and Seventh Avenue . . . Everybody calls it Broadway. The Rialto Theatre. A hanging says it is “The House of Hits”. . . . But the big line is at the Paramount . . . Sightseeing buses . . . Old women sitting in them . . . Making a living as decoys . . . See the Bowery . . . A lecture through Chinatown . . . Why, all the Chinks own restaurants on Broadway . . . There ain’t no Chinamen in Chinatown . . . The chap who is shouting that he is going to point out the historic places . . . Did you know he only arrived here from Portland last week? . . . See the old man selling The Birth Control Review . . . He’s doing it for the wife and kiddies. . . .

“A million horns from motor cars,
A million lights that dim the stars. . .”

The Astor Hotel . . . Must have been nice when it was a big farm . . . More people live outside than in . . . That drug store diagonally opposite . . . Gray’s . . . You know, that’s where you buy theatre tickets at half-price . . . Best seats for all the “hits” in town . . . Isn’t that a well-dressed man? . . . Tuxedo . . . High hat . . . He’s got class . . . Sure has poise . . . Must be some big society fellow . . . Wait a moment and his shirt will light up, advertising a brand of cigar . . .

“That’s Broadway, Broadway
Heart of the World . . .”

Loew’s New York Roof . . . It’s called the old men’s club . . . They go there to sleep . . . Did you know it once had an elegant French name and house the first Ziegfeld Follies? There’s a nut embarrassing couples by trying to make the girl take a rose and make the guy pay for it . . . Another Nedick thirst station . . . Hungry, have a hot dog, too . . . Just like Coney Island . . . A shabby, fate-beaten old man . . . Once was a great architect and built many theaters . . . He now haunts the lobbies of those theaters . . .

“A painted smile, a hard-luck tale,
A helping hand—they’re all for sale,
On Broadway, Broadway. . . .

A Lucky Strike display situation . . . Try to edge your way near the window . . . The blonde is worth seeing . . . Better than most chorus girls . . . Don’t have to pay $5.50 either . . . The fight at Madison Square Garden round for round in the doorway of a sheet music shop . . . And if you’re interested in art, you can look at the picture postal cards also . . . Childs . . . See them tossing buckwheat cakes . . . This is their Broadway place . . . Only the best performers work here . . . No newcomers . . . The crowd is too large and critical . . . Newcomers always get stage fright . . . Another United Cigar store . . . Say, if they prohibited smoking where would we find telephone booths? . . . The Palace across the street . . . It used to be the dream of all vaudevillians to play there . . . Now if the movie houses don’t get them, they’re there . . .

“And there’s a crowd there lauding you and applauding you
When you’re on top;
Same crowd hissing you and dismissing you
If you should flop . . .

The photomatic . . . You can take you picture . . . Eight for a quarter . . . They’re all ready to take home in five minutes . . . Say, isn’t this a wonderful age? . . . Let’s get tomorrow’s paper today and see what has happened tomorrow . . . This sure is great . . .

“But those who fail must learn to say
Tomorrow is another day . . .

Here we are at Fifty-second Street . . . Just ten blocks . . . It’s dull from here up . . . Broadway’s a small place, isn’t it? . . . Just ten blocks . . . Ten blocks for all the world to get famous in . . .

“That’s Broadway, Broadway,
The Heart of the World. . . .”