Carl Reiner Remembers Rose Marie: "She Was a One-Woman Band"

Rose Marie circa 1970 - Photofest-H 2017

The creator of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' opens up about casting Marie, who died Dec. 28 at age 94, as TV writer Sally Rogers: "She knew more about show business than any of us will ever, ever know."

I remember Rose Marie from when I was a kid — she was a big child star when I was growing up: Baby Rose Marie. My parents were astounded at the sound this little person could make.

When she was 4 years old, her career was taken over by the Mafia — she went to Vegas and opened the Flamingo Hotel for Bugsy Siegel. So Rose Marie started Vegas!

But when I cast her in The Dick Van Dyke Show, I didn’t know any of that. I was looking for an actress to play a woman writer because we always had a woman writer when we were doing Your Show of Shows. So I went to the Morris office and the agent said, "I got her, she’s right here." And sitting there was Rose Marie.

She’s the one who suggested Morey Amsterdam for Buddy. I was thinking of somebody more strapping, like Mel Brooks. But she had a misunderstanding about the show the first season. She'd been told it was a show about television writers. But I'd written a show about the home life of one writer. So that first year was really tough on her. She didn’t have enough to do.

The next season, every once in a while, to showcase what she could do, we had her sing or dance. She was a one-woman band. She could do anything. And she knew more about show business than any of us will ever, ever know. She'd been in it since she was a kid.

A version of this story appeared in the Jan. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.