Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Last of the Red-Hot Five Year Olds

Few people today can say they starred on a network radio show in the 1920s. One of them was a young blues singer who is known to millions of TV fans in her role as Sally Rogers, the comedy writer who kept trying to land a steady boyfriend.

We’re, of course, talking about Rose Marie. In 1928, she was appearing on stage—at age four—when she was spotted by someone at WPG, the city-owned radio station in Atlantic City. By October, she was co-starring on an evening programme (apparently a short-lived one) called “Joyous Juveniles” along with a boy soprano named Andrew Braun. Rose Marie wasn’t one of those pat-the-kid-on-the-head, ain’t-she-cute acts. She really could belt out the blues. She graduated to network radio before 1930. Newspaper radio columnists treated her seriously.

This story is from the Central Press wire service (note the CP at the bottom of the accompanying picture) and published in the Schenectady Gazette on April 30, 1930.
Lower East Side of New York Gives Tiny Star of Film to Radio
Baby Rose Marie Knows 70 Jazz Songs; to Go in "Talkies."

NEW YORK, April 29.—Dame Sophie Tucker bills herself "The Last of the Red Hot Mammas." But she hasn't reckoned with Baby Rose Marie.
For two years we have heard Rose Marie on the air, have seen her in vaudeville and occasionally in a talkie short. Her voice and manner in her act are totally unlike that of a child. Deep, hard-boiled, coon-shouting, uncanny, so pathetically unlike a little baby girl that, in a woman's heart at least, it stirs a maternal resentment. The other day Rose Marie played hostess for an "interview. We met her with curiosity, prepared to find that she was a child several years older than she was billed.
A Busy Five-Year-Old
But she isn't. She is a little slip of a five-year-old with dark brown hair, almost black Latin eyes, kiddish teeth, wide apart, and, like the average healthy and mischievous youngster, always stirring like a little busy bee.
At first she sat primly in a chair as she had no doubt been told to do and confided:
"I got a little brother Frankie, nine months old. Gee, he's a swell kid. I was only three when I started to sing. Frankie sings now—honest, he does. He sings 'blah-hh—blah-hh.'
"You know where I live? Why, on the lower East Side, between Avenue B and C. I got about a hundred kids to play with. I like to play out on the street. Once I went to kindergarten for a day, but mama had me all cleaned up and a bad kid stepped on the back of my shoes and I went home and I said I don't want to go back to that dirty school and mama says she guesses I'm right—and I ain't gone back neither."
She showed that she could write "Baby," but the Rose Marie stumped her and she printed it laboriously. That is all she knows of her three Rs. She does not read at all. However, she knows the words and music of more than 70 jazz songs, and can sing them with all the "It" and come-hither motions of a warbling Clara Bow. She never forgets a song once she has learned it.
Father Was In Vaudeville
Her father is Frank Curley, an Italian, formerly a hoofer and banjo player in vaudeville.
She is scheduled to go to the coast for a little while to play a lead in Victor Herbert's "Babes in Toyland" in the talkies.
When asked what she was going to do with all the money she is earning, the child looked surprised.
"Buy dresses, of course. What else is there for a woman to spend money on?"
"You might buy an airplane," it was suggested. But she shuddered.
"Get me up in one of those awful ole crates? Not muh!"
She likes dancing and monkeys.
"Not live ones. Just fakes."
Baby Rose Marie's money will soon take her family out of the lower East Side—into what? It will be interesting to observe the career of this strange little child prodigy. Her repartee is as old as her voice. Somehow, we wish they'd have waited a few years.
Going back to the start of this post, you may be wondering what happened to Rose Marie’s co-star on “Joyous Juveniles,” Andrew Braun. Quite a bit, and far from the realm of show business, if the research is correct. His full name was Andrew Josef Galambos-Braun. He was born in Hungary in 1924. He and his parents Josef and Margaret arrived in the U.S. in early 1927, by February he was already singing on WIP Philadelphia. He joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War Two. Braun, or Galambos as he came to be known, was later an astrophysicist and a philosopher who wrote extensively propounding a society run in some ways on libertarian lines. Both he and Rose Marie had come a long way from a little studio in Atlantic City at the dawn of network radio.


  1. Did she do any recordings in the 50s? The reason i asked was recently i purchased a 45 on the ABC Paramount label, made about 1958, and the artist's name was Rose Marie. The song was credied as neing written by Morey Amsterdam.

    1. I wouldn't be surprised, though I've searched in vain in Billboard trying to find it.