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Mob, fame, loss: Film details Rose Marie's surprising life

LOS ANGELES — Rose Marie's place in show business history is anchored by her performance as smart aleck comedy writer Sally on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and a "Hollywood Squares" quipster.

That is simply criminal, as a new documentary makes clear. Before she became a TV second banana, Baby Rose Marie was a big-voiced singing phenomenon who at age 4 began conquering radio, stage and records and blossomed into a glamorous nightclub performer.

Her remarkable life is recounted with her help in "Wait for Your Laugh," a film with the verve, charisma and inventiveness to match its subject.

"The greatest asset we have is you don't know the story," said director Jason Wise, who produced the film with Christina Wise, his wife. It's qualified for Academy Award consideration and is screening in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere to draw attention for a nomination.

Born Rose Marie Mazetta in New York City, she was the apple of Al Capone's eye, opened the Flamingo in upstart Las Vegas for another gangster, Bugsy Siegel, and was a working wife and mom whose performance addiction and feistiness remain unabated at age 94.

"I loved to work for an audience and I loved to hold them in the palm of my hand — which I do," a still-confident Rose Marie says in the film.

Throughout her decades-long career, she refused to be left behind as entertainment's focus expanded to include movies and television, with the driven Rose Marie adapting her talents as required. Her last job was just a few years ago, voicing a character on the animated "The Garfield Show."

"Wait for Your Laugh" takes a respectful but playful approach to Rose Marie's life, deftly integrating witty re-enactments shot on film with each decade's appropriate camera to bring her story to life.

Her memorabilia and personal footage from throughout her life proved a bonanza, said Jason Wise.

"Any time she mentions, say, a theater, there's a telegram from Milton Berle saying 'excited to see you'" there, Wise said, visually enriching the memory.

At a recent screening, Rose Marie held court from a wheelchair, frail but spirited in a follow-up discussion. She was joined by Van Dyke; the 1960s sitcom's co-star and its creator, Carl Reiner, and "Hollywood Squares" host Peter Marshall.

"Carl, if you knew I had all those talents, you'd have given me a bigger part," she pointedly teased Reiner about her supporting role on his hit show.

As he recalls in the film, Rose Marie was in the shadow of breakout star Mary Tyler Moore, a position that chafed on the spotlight-loving Rose Marie but which Reiner warned she must accept or quit.

She stayed, and Van Dyke said he was made better for working alongside her and Morey Amsterdam, Rose Marie's longtime friend and colleague who played fellow writer Buddy.

"I learned comedy from those two," Van Dyke said, with Rose Marie chiding him when he jumped in too quickly after delivering a punch line. "She would say, 'Wait for your laugh.'"

She could be tough, especially when it counted. Her experience on the set of the 1954 movie "Top Banana" illustrates how tiresomely repetitive Hollywood is when it comes to sexual harassment.

Rose Marie recalls telling a producer who promised her more screen time in exchange for sex. She rebuffed his advances and saw her role reduced.

"She is a great role model, with everything she's gone through and experienced," said Christina Wise. "She didn't have the same kind of support women have today, and it's still a struggle."

The chief heavy in "Wait for Your Laugh" is Rose Marie's father, whose connections brought mobsters into her life as friendly godfathers. He saw his talented offspring as a revenue source and, according to the film, kept the money she earned — millions in today's dollars — and tried to block her from marrying.

The film honors Rose Marie's devotion to her big-band musician husband, Bobby Guy, whose early death is the reason a black ribbon routinely is part of her trademark bouffant hairstyle. She never remarried.

Georgiana Guy Rodrigues, the couple's daughter, suggests in the film that Rose Marie was more focused on her career than motherhood. But she acknowledges the drive to perform that has her mom puzzling over how she could do her nightclub act sitting down.

"She's never stopped working, ever. Ever. From the time she was a child, she has never stopped," Rodrigues says.

Iron Maiden singer writes about bullying, cancer and flying

NEW YORK — Bruce Dickinson used to think that writing an autobiography should come at the end of his career. A bout with throat cancer changed his mind.

After his recovery, the Iron Maiden frontman began writing his life story, filling up a stack of legal pads in longhand. Now the fruit of his labor has led to the recently released, "What Does This Button Do?"

The 59-year old rocker recalls turning down an offer to do a book 10 years ago, saying "I'm not really done yet." After being diagnosed with cancer, "I thought there's an outside possibility I might be done sooner than I intended."

In the book, Dickinson covers the rise of Iron Maiden, his love of fencing, his difficult upbringing, the creation of albums and becoming a licensed airline pilot. He ends the book with his victory over cancer.

"When I got all clear of that, then the question got revisited, and I went, 'You know what, this is a really good end point for a book.' Not that I'm planning on going anywhere else and checking out, but this is kind of the beginning of the rest of my life," Dickinson said.

And while Dickinson conveniently excludes the dirt on his personal relationships and barely touches on band politics, he does reveal some personal demons, especially in a passage that chronicles being bullied as a child. Those bad experiences at boarding school had a lasting effect on him.

"A really nasty bullying experience, whatever, it never leaves you," he says. "It leaves a permanent mark on your insides and that manifests in different people in different ways. With me, it makes me very angry. I get really cross, you know. If I see somebody else being bullied, it makes me really angry. So it's a bit like Hulk. You don't want to see me when I'm angry."

In retirement, Owen Roizman discovers digital photos, Oscar

LOS ANGELES — Academy Awards and digital cameras eluded cinematographer Owen Roizman during his Hollywood career. But in retirement, he's found both.

Roizman is among four recipients of honorary Oscar statuettes being celebrated Saturday at the film academy's ninth annual Governors Awards ceremony.

"I never expected it," the 81-year-old said during a recent telephone interview from his Los Angeles-area home. "I thought all my accolades and awards were over with."

He was nominated for five Oscars during his career, the first in 1972 for "The French Connection" and most recently in 1995 for "Wyatt Earp." But he retired without bringing home the golden guy.

Actor Donald Sutherland and filmmakers Charles Burnett and Agnes Varda will also receive honorary Academy Awards at Saturday's ceremony.

Roizman came upon digital photography like he did his Hollywood career: a bit by chance. As a boy, he aspired to become a professional baseball player, and says he even had a tryout with the New York Yankees, but a bout of polio as a teen pushed that dream aside.

So he went to college and studied engineering, only to find upon graduation that he'd make more money if he went into his father's line of work: Dad was a cinematographer.

"That didn't leave much doubt for me," Roizman said.

He had worked at a camera rental shop during his college summers, so he was already familiar with the gear. He found work as an assistant cameraman, and before long was shooting commercials. He'd only filmed one feature before William Friedkin tapped him as cinematographer for "The French Connection," which would go on to win five Oscars, including best picture.

The film established Roizman's realistic style and made him an Oscar nominee.

"Everybody, including the newspapers, told me I was going to win that," he recalled. "And I used to joke that I was so convinced I was going to win that I was still practicing my speech three days afterward."

Other nominations came for "The Exorcist," ''Network" and "Tootsie."

On Saturday, though, he'll give a speech for sure.

"I think the trick is not to be too boring," he said.

Roizman hung up his camera after shooting 1995's "French Kiss," saying, "I was getting out just as digital was coming in."

But during a portrait session with celebrated photographer Douglas Kirkland, Roizman became fascinated with digital stills. Kirkland gave his friend a copy of his 1993 book, "Icons," in which he manipulated film images with an early version of Photoshop.

"That book changed everything for me," Roizman said.

He bought a digital camera and asked Kirkland for Photoshop lessons. He went onto shoot thousands of stills, including a collection of portraits of his American Society of Cinematographers colleagues that was exhibited at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

"I never shot another piece of film again, actually," he said.

But his fondness for filmmaking remained. He represented the cinematography branch of the academy for almost a decade after retiring, and has been moved to reflect on his career as he prepares to write his not-too-boring speech.

He loves the collaborative process and found deep satisfaction in "telling a story and telling it in a way that I'm proud of."

"You can feel it when it's happening, and especially when you see it finished onscreen," Roizman said. "Just melding all those different minds and visions, bringing them together and putting them onscreen in a way that just feels right: that's probably the most satisfying thing about making movies."