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

Photofest
Rose Marie circa 1970

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.