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Shelly Goldstein reminisces about longtime friend Rose Marie

Hollywood isn’t often known for long, enduring friendships, but for writer-performer Shelly Goldstein, her meeting Rose Marie would prove to be the exception. During our conversation Goldstein talks about how mutual friends brought the two together to form a lasting friendship. 

DECADES: How long did you know Rose Marie?

"Well, technically my entire life if you count watching the Dick Van Dyke Show from my baby crib.And then pretending to be sick so I could stay home from school and watch the show's reruns during the afternoon. But I first met Rose sometime around 2010, give or take a year."

DECADES: How did you and Rose Marie first meet?

"My friend, pop culture historian and legendary animation writer Mark Evanier invited me to a dinner in Rose's honor with some friends. Some time later we were invited to a book signing in LA for one of Dick's books. We all hung out backstage. After that I would visit her at her house or run into her at events in LA. 

She came to one of my cabaret shows which was about the "Groovy Girls of the 60s," and I had the honor of introducing her from the audience. The crowd gave her a heartfelt standing ovation. I reminded the audience that her role of Sally Rogers on the DVD Show was the very first "career woman" on TV who wasn't a maid or a teacher. She was an equal to Buddy and Rob. Although I bet Mel Cooley didn't pay Sally as much as the male writers!"

DECADES: What was your first impression of Rose Marie?

"Fascinating, funny, an encyclopedia of show business. My God, one of her mentors was Al Capone and she invented the music video. People forget music "soundies" of Baby Rose Marie are as old as The Jazz Singer, some of the very first talking films. She was a star for over 80 years!"

DECADES: What was the thing that connected you two for so long? Common interests, shared values?

"I think she loved that I knew her career so well, that I showed her proper respect and I listened to her. We tend to ignore history and she lived so much of it. She also loved that we were both comic actresses and singers. And she liked my lyrics. She thought I was a good singer and funny and that meant a lot. I wrote a song for her and she put the lyric on the wall of her house -- next to a framed residual she'd gotten from an appearance on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Her house was also a museum of Showbiz history."

DECADES: Rose Marie had quite the social media following, what do you think it was about her that kept fans old and new engaged and interested in her?

"Everybody grew up with her. Whether it was The DVD Show, Hollywood Squares or the 5 million sitcoms she guested on. We all knew her."

DECADES: Would you share your fondest memory of Rose Marie?

"Definitely singing the song I wrote for her, the lyric that she hung on the wall of her house, and introducing her to the audience  at my show. I knew she was touched by the thunderous applause she got from the crowd. Also, just the memories of the phone ringing and it being her. Never a reason, she just wanted to talk and tell stories and re-live her memories."

DECADES: Were you surprised when you heard that the documentary Wait for Your Laugh was being made?

"Only surprised in that we tend to ignore historic figures when they get older. But it's definitely a life and career worthy of a film!"

DECADES: Did you get to talk to Rose Marie about Wait for Your Laugh before she passed away? If so, was she happy with the film?

"I know she was thrilled. I was invited to its LA premiere and sadly was out of town. I think that was one of the happiest days of her life."

DECADES: What do you think Rose Marie was most proud of in her long life?

"She loved what she did. She loved entertaining. She was a groundbreaker who never got the recognition she deserved for work in TV, film, stage and nightclubs — she was there at the very beginning in Las Vegas — and she was proud that her career lasted so long. Who else began in vaudeville in the 1920s and worked straight through until her last job in 2015? (Voicing an animated character on an episode of Garfield, written and directed by my friend Mark Evanier, who I mentioned earlier.) Nobody's career last that long. She also loved talking about her husband, Bobby, who died while she was on The DVD Show.

DECADES: What would you like people to remember the most about your friend Rose Marie?

"That she did it all, she did it all perfectly and she did it first. When we look back on historic women in Hollywood or show business, Rose should be at the top of every list. And she was so talented and so funny."

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