Actress Rose Marie, an entertainment polymath best known for her role as wise-cracking comedy writer Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show, has died. According to Variety, Marie—whose career stretched across a staggering 91 years of entertainment industry history—was 94 years old when she died.
The daughter of an established vaudeville performer, Marie began performing at the age of three as “Baby Rose Marie,” quickly becoming a national sensation. By five, she was a well-known child performer on the radio; by her teenage years, she was a working singer and had starred in a feature film opposite W.C. Fields. (According to her autobiography, Hold The Roses, a family connection to certain famous mobsters didn’t exactly hurt her meteoric rise to success.)
To younger generations, though—that is, everyone who watched The Dick Van Dyke Show in its original 1961-1966 run, and all the younger fans who grew up on the show’s reruns—she’ll always be Sally, the quick-witted, tough-as-nails woman holding court in the writers room for the fictional Alan Brady Show. Paired up with fellow comic ringer Morey Amsterdam—with whom she’d share a long and celebrated friendship, marked by any number of appearances next to each other on panel-style shows like Hollywood Squares—Marie imbued Sally with a mixture of toughness and vulnerability that belied the show’s frequent poking at her husband-hunting tendencies. More importantly, the show never presented Sally as a lesser comic force in the writer’s room—even if she did have to do all the typing—trading quips with Van Dyke’s Rob and Amsterdam’s Buddy, and getting in just as many licks at Richard Deacon’s Mel and his bald-headed pompousness.
In the wake of The Dick Van Dyke Show ending, Marie continued to work steadily in TV; her resume boasts credits on everything from The Love Boat to Herman’s Head. She carved out an especial niche for herself for the mothers of established characters, playing strong moms on Murphy Brown, The Real Ghostbusters, Wings, and more. Meanwhile, she reapplied herself to her stage career, teaming up with Rosemary Clooney, Helen O’Connell, and Margaret Whiting for the celebrated musical revue 4 Girls 4.
Marie’s last credited acting role was as a recurring voice actress on Cartoon Network’s The Garfield Show. A documentary about her life and career, called Wait For Your Laugh, and featuring appearances from contemporaries like Carl Reiner, Van Dyke, and Tim Conway, was released earlier this year.