SEX IN THE CINEMA: Who was the late Rose Marie?

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2017

Part 3—Hapless child brides, threatened sex assaults:
We'd always semi-wondered about the late Rose Marie.

From 1961 to 1966, she starred on The Dick Van Dyke Show, playing Sally Rogers, a TV comedy writer. But who the heck was Rose Marie? And why did she seem to be a "first name only" performer?

When she died this week, at age 94, we finally got our answer. Her long. amazing show business career started when she was three years old. By the time she was 5, she had her own national radio show, a weekly program for NBC.

Back then, she performed as "Baby Rose Marie." Thirty-three years later, she was cast for the Van Dyke Show—and according to today's Washington Post, she had one complaint:
ELBER (12/30/17): “The Dick Van Dyke Show” not only was an ideal vehicle for Ms. Marie’s comic gifts, but it was a showcase for her singing...

Ms. Marie was especially proud of playing a woman defined by her work, a rare sitcom character at the time who wasn’t “a wife, mother, or housekeeper,” she tweeted in 2017.

The actress did have conflicts with [series creator Carl] Reiner, resenting that Moore was given more prominence than she on the show.
For a longer obituary, see this fascinating report in the New York Times.

At any rate, is that clain in the Post really true? Did Rose Marie seek equal prominence with Mary Tyler Moore, who played Van Dyke's wife on the popular TV show?

We can't answer that question. But Moore was spectacularly telegenic and a perfectly decent comic performer. She was also very young, in keeping with Hollywood paradigms and traditions.

Just how old was Laura Petrie, the character played by Moore? In real life, Van Dyke was 35 years old when his eponymous program debuted in 1961. In real life, Moore was 24. (Rose Marie was 38.)

That said, the Laura character was written as a bit of a helpless child wife, a bit of an industry stereotype. We were struck by this backstory from the leading authority on the popular program:
Laura Petrie (née Meeker/Meehan; played by Mary Tyler Moore)—Rob's wife. As a 17-year-old dancer in the United Service Organizations, she met and married Rob. Then, she became a stay-at-home mom. In early Season One episodes, Rob calls her "Laurie" numerous times, as opposed to "Laura", which became his usual name for her.
If that backstory is correct, the fictional Laura Petrie was scripted as having been just 17 when she married her older husband. But so the malecentric imagining went, all through the Hollywood of that time.

(Not too much later, several mothers in Alabama were thrilled when their teenage daughters were asked out by Roy Moore. The liberal world recently staged a moral panic about this less-than-remarkable state of affairs, in which those mothers were enacting a cultural ideal which Hollywood pushed for many years.)

Laura Petrie, a 17-year-old dancer turned 18-year-old homemaker, was written as a bit of a hapless child bride. Frequently, Rob would come home from the office to straighten her worries out.

In fairness, TV's previous decade had been dominated by the helpless Lucy Ricardo, who couldn't brush her teeth without creating a mess requiring Ricky's intervention. This is the way malecentric Hollywood thought and believed at this time.

Lucy Ricardo was a thoroughly helpless child. In real life and on that program, Rose Marie was an outlier, a striking exception to this unfortunate cultural norm.

By the end of the 1960s, Hollywood was moving away from the era in which 17-year-olds swooned for aging male stars, dragging them into the bedroom. The industry was moving into the era in which sexual assault, and threatened assault, were routinely used to drive tired plot lines along.

These horrible values were long the Hollywood norm. Within the past year, people have finally started discussing the appalling behavior which was occurring behind the scenes within this malecentric realm.

Rose Marie didn't abandon her career as a performer when she turned 17. But if she wanted equal billing with the spectacularly telegenic and rather childlike Laura Petrie, she was dreaming the impossible dream.

At what point did the culture of the helpless child bride make way for the culture of the thrilling sex assault? A few nights back, we watched the gruesome 1968 film, Firecreek, in which Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart pushed this gruesome new culture along, without dropping the silly left-over trope in which much younger women would instantly fall in love with much older men.

From its opening scene, Firecreek is driven along by the thrilling threat of assault. By the mid-1970s, this thrilling threat was driving the tired old scripts of Quinn Martin detective shows and their like—popular TV programs like Cannon, Mannix, Barnaby Jones and The Streets of San Francisco.

When their stories began to get dull, Hollywood writers of this era would menace attractive young women. This was the meat on which this version of Tinseltown fed, but we got there through the "geezer chic" of the 1950s.

As sisterhood would later become, geezer chic was powerful! In 1953, Grace Kelly—age 24 in real life—was forced to fall in love with Clark Gable (age 52 and looking no younger) in the stinker Mogambo. That said, these were some of the romantic pairings in Gable's last four films:
Teacher's Pet 1958: Gable 57, Mamie Van Doren 27
But Not For Me 1959: Gable 58, Carroll Baker 28
It Started in Naples 1960: Gable 59, Sophia Loren 26
The Misfits 1961: Gable 60, Marilyn Monroe 35 (playing 30)
Even Loren! That said, the hapless men of Hollywood scripted a decade of fantasy films in this ridiculous manner.

Too funny! The leading authority on It Started in Naples offers this as part of its plot summary:

"Despite the age difference, romance soon blossoms between Michael and Lucia, and he decides to stay in Italy."

Despite the age difference? That was part of the basic script which fueled an entire era! Meanwhile, the leading authority on The Misfits offers this pitiful coda:
Gable suffered a heart attack two days after filming ended and died ten days later...Monroe later said that she hated the film and her performance in it. Within a year and a half, she was dead of an apparent drug overdose. The Misfits was the last completed film for both Monroe and Gable, her childhood screen idol. As a child, Monroe had often claimed that Gable was her father.
In The Misfits, Marilyn fell for dear old (imagined) Dad. Days later, he dropped dead.

Hepburn, Kelly, Loren, Novak? In a practice Tinseltown was slow to abandon, they were reserved for the industry's aging alpha male stars. When this nonsense could be sold no longer, Hollywood turned to the era of the "naughty boy sex romp," and to the era of the thrilling threatened assault.

There's a great deal more to this pitiful story, which played out over many years with very few peeps of protest (or insight) from our enlightened tribe. But around the country, many mothers bought into the ideal of the teenager falling for, and marrying, the older established man.

In the past few months, our endlessly clueless liberal tribe staged a moral panic over this less-than-startling fact. We treated the dates just like the alleged assaults! Ain't life in the liberal tribe grand?

Still coming: Question of the year!

As opposed to Lucy Ricardo: Let's thank God for Alice Kramden, who would put her hands on her hips and give back at least as good as she got.

Also, all praise to Jackie Gleason! "Baby, you're the greatest!" So the duly chastened Ralph would tell Alice in the end.

In the end, Ralph could see who Alice was. In this way, the Gleason scripts stood out from the pack.

18 comments:

  1. Rose Marie was quite an accomplished child star. E.g., See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvymiQNyDfA

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bob doesn't know the Dick Van Dyke show very well. The fictional Laura Petrie may have been 17 when she married the fictional Rob, but she told him that she was 19. There is an episode in the series when she confesses this, and the couple decides that it would be prudent to marry again.
    I bet that if I knew what point Bob is trying to make, the above would would refute it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wikipedia lists it as episode 65 during season 3. In episode 66 the couple go out of town to remarry so their friends don't find out. As I remembered it the fictional Rob is shocked and horrified to find out that he married a fictional 17 year old.

      Delete
  3. Hollywood isn't real life. In some ways, it may reflect the society at a given moment. I thought Somerby tried to show in earlier columns that it was common in olden times for older men to marry younger women, in which case, the movies he cites simply reflect a social norm. But here, he seems to claim that Hollywood caused girls to marry men and for the mothers to be ecstatic. And Somerby calls the old/young parings he cites "pitiful", as though he himself disapproves. So his own stance is ambiguous. Then he says our tribe never complained about these movies. Movies, being artistic creations, are governed by a certain amount of artistic freedom, and the general attitude is that censorship is to be frowned upon. Now, in real life, a relationship between a 57 year old and a 27 year old is hardly objectionable. Both are adults. And none of this relates to what Roy Moore is alleged to have done (*in real life, not the movies*): trolling the mall for teenage dates, being banned from the mall, etc, up to and including sexual misconduct. The aversion to Moore was not confined to liberals; look at how many conservative voters turned against him or stayed home. Look at the people at the time (i.e. the 70's) who found his behavior questionable; not all of those mothers were ecstatic. I would also say the "moral panic" was more a disapproval of sexual assault, a crime.
    I'm also not convinced that May/December romances were any predominant theme of 1950's Hollywood.
    Re Lucille Ball: she was one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, and chose to play ditzy characters. This may have been a nod to the prevailing *conservative* values in society at the time. (Remember the Hays office and Production Codes?) A subtlety of her show was the way it normalized a "mixed" marriage, a highly controversial thing on 1950's tv. She was also accused, and not by liberals, I might add, of being a Communist.
    One final note about Ralph Kramden: he was constantly threatening Alice with violence: "You're going to the moon. One of these days, bang!zoom!"
    Yet she stayed with this verbally abusive loser.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Interesting that Bob speaks to the “Hollywood norm.” I think it would be better described as the “evolutionary norm.”

      You can’t separate biology from anthropology, as much as we try. And as much as we might despair in their endeavor, Hollywood attempts to reflect our values.

      Why shouldn’t they? They don’t really give a fuck. They just want the bucks.

      Chimps (using the shorthand) will be chimps. It’s only societal pressure that causes change, and what causes changes in Hollywood’s fare.

      “It” evolves with the norms, imposed (rightfully) by society.

      As the Bob Whisperer™, I ask, what are social norms? Is it Hollywood? In the past according to Bob, “it” made it quite clear what those norms were. But the norms were already there. I myself take a leering glance at nubile women. Damn my eyes! Hence my chimp reference.

      Monkey see, monkey do, to the extent monkey possibly can do.

      I still can’t believe Roy Moore was targeted as a pedophile, when his record as an execrable pos re his actual views re the actual world we exist in took back stage.

      Not to excuse his behavior!
      Whence his norm? The same as Hollywood’s. Wood for woods sake.

      Leroy

      Cheers y’all

      Delete
    3. Here's video evidence of Ralph threatening Alice with domestic violence.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98qw86DsdZ0

      Delete
    4. Men love young pussy. Always have, always will. Don't pretend Moore trolling for it is unusual.

      Delete
    5. No, trolling four fourteen-year olds is unusual - unless you're fourteen.

      Last I checked, modern civilization agrees with me. Grown men shouldn't be trolling for child-brides. Nor should they be hitting them when they get married, despite the long human history of such behavior which still exists today.

      That behavior is almost "natural," given our dimorphic sexual expression as a species. We’ve come a long ways in taming our nature as animals via societal evolution.

      Don’t forget, former slaves were allowed to vote before women were in this country. Why is that? Perhaps anthropology can explain it.

      Leroy

      Delete
    6. We're the dates treated just like the alleged assaults by the liberal press?

      Delete
  4. What useless poppycock, Bob. Now you're just becoming unhinged. Do you somehow believe that there's a connection between the near-universal disgust amongst thinking humans - not just liberals - at a former asst. DA trying to pick up teenagers at the mall and Hollywood's propensity to favor powerful old actors over young and pretty starlets?
    Seriously, what your point here? Are you suggesting that Moore's behavior was justified because of 50s media normalization? Or that we prudes are overreacting to what you repeatedly describe as acceptable age differences? Whatever it is, you've lost the thread here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why were so many of the moms thrilled about Moore?

      Because it wasn't unusual.

      Delete
  5. Today Somerby demonstrates that he never took a womens studies class either. Does he think this aspect of women in film, especially the portrayal of women as victims of violence, has not been analyzed before it caught his attention? There is a strong stink of mansplaining about this thread.

    Somerby pretends the movies condoned romance between young women and much older men. The reality is that few older women could find jobs after 30 yo. The same is not true for men. The age gap results from the fact that men do not age out. Since men do the hiring, this cannot be blamed on the mothers of young girls or on society. Women did not create this situation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. RoseMarie was a favorite of the mob for many decades. When the producer of the movie "Top Banana" pulled her songs from the film because she rejected his propositioning her, she could have had him beaten up (or even killed) and she could have done the same with Carl Reiner, had she really wanted a lot more screen time on the Dick Van Dyke show, but she NEVER asked the mob for any favors. The mob certainly asked her for favors tho.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bob missed - Clark Gable 39, Scarlett O'Hara 16. Of course, that was many years and a war before the 1950's.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Actually Bob, at one time younger women did prefer much older men. It was the style.

    ReplyDelete
  9. PLEASE READ THIS TESTIMONY CAREFULLY. I AM USING THIS OPPORTUNITY TO TELL THE WORLD THAT, GREAT MOTHER IS A GIFTED SPELL CASTER. MY HUSBAND LEFT ME FOR NO REASON. I WAS NO LONGER MY SELF AND AT A TIME, I ATTEMPTED TO COMMIT SUICIDE. BUT THANK GOD I CAME ACROSS GREAT MOTHER ONLINE. I READ GOOD REVIEWS ABOUT HER GOOD WORK AND HOW USEFUL AND HELPFUL SHE HAS BEEN TO PEOPLE. I CONTACTED HER AND TOLD HER MY PROBLEM. SHE TOLD ME THAT MY WAN WILL COME BACK TO ME. SHE TOLD ME WHAT TO DO AND I DID IT AND TO MY GREAT SURPRISE MY HUSBAND CAME BACK JUST AS GREAT MOTHER SAID. I EVEN NOTICED THAT WHEN MY HUSBAND RETURNED, HE EVEN LOVE ME MORE. THIS IS NOT BRAIN WASHING BUT GREAT MOTHER OPENED UP HIS EYES TO SEE HOW MUCH LOVE I HAVE FOR HIM AND HOW MUCH LOVE WE OUGHT TO SHARE WITH EACH OTHER. CONTACT HER NOW ON HER EMAIL:
    GREATMOTHEROFSOLUTIONTEMPLE@YAHOO.COM AND YOU CAN ALSO CONTACT HER ON WHATSAPP WITH HER NUMBER: +2348078359876 SHE ALSO HAS 2 BLOGS WHICH YOU CAN ALSO USE TO REACH HER. THESE ARE THE BLOGS BELOW. YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE BLOGS TO SEE HER WORK.

    GREATMOTHEROFPOWERS.BLOGSPOT.COM
    GREATMOTHEROFSOLUTION.BLOGSPOT.COM

    PLEASE READ THIS TESTIMONY CAREFULLY. I AM USING THIS OPPORTUNITY TO TELL THE WORLD THAT, GREAT MOTHER IS A GIFTED SPELL CASTER. MY HUSBAND LEFT ME FOR NO REASON. I WAS NO LONGER MY SELF AND AT A TIME, I ATTEMPTED TO COMMIT SUICIDE. BUT THANK GOD I CAME ACROSS GREAT MOTHER ONLINE. I READ GOOD REVIEWS ABOUT HER GOOD WORK AND HOW USEFUL AND HELPFUL SHE HAS BEEN TO PEOPLE. I CONTACTED HER AND TOLD HER MY PROBLEM. SHE TOLD ME THAT MY WAN WILL COME BACK TO ME. SHE TOLD ME WHAT TO DO AND I DID IT AND TO MY GREAT SURPRISE MY HUSBAND CAME BACK JUST AS GREAT MOTHER SAID. I EVEN NOTICED THAT WHEN MY HUSBAND RETURNED, HE EVEN LOVE ME MORE. THIS IS NOT BRAIN WASHING BUT GREAT MOTHER OPENED UP HIS EYES TO SEE HOW MUCH LOVE I HAVE FOR HIM AND HOW MUCH LOVE WE OUGHT TO SHARE WITH EACH OTHER. CONTACT HER NOW ON HER EMAIL:
    GREATMOTHEROFSOLUTIONTEMPLE@YAHOO.COM AND YOU CAN ALSO CONTACT HER ON WHATSAPP WITH HER NUMBER: +2348078359876 SHE ALSO HAS 2 BLOGS WHICH YOU CAN ALSO USE TO REACH HER. THESE ARE THE BLOGS BELOW. YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE BLOGS TO SEE HER WORK.

    GREATMOTHEROFPOWERS.BLOGSPOT.COM
    GREATMOTHEROFSOLUTION.BLOGSPOT.COM

    ReplyDelete