Okay, so she had a little help -- talented writers, directors, and costars. But basically that classic, independent, funny, vulnerable character, Sally Rogers of The Dick Van Dyke Show, was the creation of Rose Marie, the actress who gave Sally life and turned millions of viewers into her personal cheering section.
Her work on that series earned her three Emmy nominations, which she attributed to her experience of having been a performer the age of 3. As "Baby Rose Marie," at the age of five she was signed by NBC to star in her own coast-to-coast radio show. At the age of seven she was sent on the road by NBC just to prove that her deep adult like voice did indeed belong to a child. In 1933 she appeared in her first film, International House with W.C. Fields.
At age 11 she dropped the "Baby" and continued her career as Rose Marie. As a teenager, the husky-throated young lady became a headliner at leading nightclubs across the country, from New York's famed Copacabana and Latin Quarter to the Las Vegas Strip where, with Jimmy Durante and Xavier Cugat, she opened the first luxury casino-club, The Flamingo. The years that followed found Rose Marie a regular headliner in Vegas, where she played the Riviera Hotel, Sahara, Thunderbird and Harrah's in Reno and Tahoe.
Gathering a wealth of show-biz knowledge from working with the greats of comedy and song, Rose Marie became expert in comedic delivery herself. She interrupted her singing career long enough to gain great critical acclaim on Broadway as costar with Milton Berle in Spring in Brazil, Zero Mostel in Lunatics and Lovers, and Phil Silvers in Top Banana. She followed this up by touring with the national touring companies of Call Me Madam and Bye Bye Birdie.
The film version of Top Banana brought Rose Marie back to motion pictures. (As a child star she made numerous musical shorts and comedy films.) She appeared in Memories of Us, Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round, The Man from Clover Grove, Lunch Wagon, Cheaper to Keep Her, and Dick and Jane.
When situation comedy began to emerge on television, Rose Marie was there. She created running roles on The Bob Cummings Show, My Sister Eileen, The Doris Day Show and S.W.A.T., not to mention her own series in Honeymoon Suite. But it is for her costarring role in the classic comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show that Rose Marie is most remembered. Here, she portrayed the first "woman in a man's world" -- the independent, Sally Rogers. She received three Emmy nominations for this role.
Later, variety television shows became a natural for the comedienne-vocalist. Rose Marie made numerous appearances with Jackie Gleason, Jimmy Durante, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Garry Moore, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Dinah Shore, George Gobel, Dean Martin, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, and Johnny Carson. Her game-show appearances read like a history of the genre from Password and I've Got a Secret to a 14-year stint as a regular on Hollywood Squares.
Most recently Rose Marie had returned to the night club-concert hall circuit across the country, appearing in the highly successful revue 4 Girls 4 along with Rosemary Clooney, Helen O'Connell, Margaret Whiting and later, Kay Starr.
Rose Marie's roles usually portray her as a husband-hunter, but she was very much married for twenty years to the late Bobby Guy, first trumpeter for the NBC Orchestra. She still lives in the same home she and Bobby moved into over 30 years ago in the San Fernando Valley, California. She is a celebrated Italian cook, a collector of plates, and a tireless defender of numerous humanitarian causes, notably animal welfare.
Sally Rogers is the wisecracking, deep-throated TV career woman who holds her own on the team of comedy writers for The Alan Brady Show. She's a talented, quick-witted counterpart to her male colleagues Rob and Buddy, and she's not afraid in the least to top their gags.
Even though Sally has been called the first liberated woman of TV, she keeps herself in constant turmoil about the lack of a real man in her life. These woes are a running joke at the office. While she waits for a real man, she settles for the company of her two cats (Mr. Henderson and Mr. Diefenthaler) and her mamma's-boy boyfriend (Herman Glimsher, whom she sometimes calls Woodrow).
Sally is every bit the lady, preferring to file her nails during brainstorm sessions while Rob does pushups and Buddy naps. She wears a size 6 1/2 stiletto heel and accessorizes with hairbows and pearl necklaces. She attended Herbert Hoover High and began as a staff writer on the Milton Berle Show before joining Alan's staff. A show-biz veteran, Sally has performed comedy routines with Buddy at Herbie's Hawaiian Lodge. She is also an amazing singer.
Sally Rogers' character is modeled after real-life comedy writer Selma Diamond.