The Titanic Talent of Jack Rose

See what I did there?

We don’t often pay tribute to just any screenwriter/producers on Travalanche but we happen to be impressed with the career of Jack Rose (1911-1995) body of work, and we have also already written about his frequent creative partner Mel Shavelson. Also, what a great show biz name “Jack Rose” is in view of Harry Rose, Billy Rose, Ike Rose, Julian Rose, and Max Rose, not to mention about 40 famous performing Jacks. It’s likely not his real name, of course. He was an immigrant from Warsaw, although I can’t seem to learn his birthname from any online biographical sources.

Raised in Brooklyn, Rose went to college in Ohio, then returned to New York in 1934 to start work a show biz press agent, writing gags on the side for Milton Berle and Bob Hope. He moved to Los Angeles so he could write radio scripts for Hope full time, which led to scripting films. The films he wrote (or co-wrote or contributed to and/or produced) for Hope (and sometimes Crosby) including My Favorite Brunette (1947), Road to Rio (1947), The Paleface (1948), Sorrowful Jones (1948), The Great Lover (1949), The Seven Little Foys (1955) and Beau James (1957); for Milton Berle there was Always Leave Them Laughing (1949); for Cary Grant, Room for One More (1952) and Houseboat (1958); for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Living It Up (1954), and for just Martin Who’s Got the Action? (1962) and Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed? (1963); for Danny Kaye he did The Five Pennies (1959) and On the Double (1961), and for Jackie Gleason Papa’s Delicate Condition. He also contributed to Frank Capra’s Riding High (1950) with Bing Crosby, The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady (1950) and the Doris Day vehicles It’s a Great Feeling (1949), On Moonlight Bay (1951), I’ll Se You In My Dreams (1951), and April in Paris (1952).

Rose’s high water mark was probably creating, producing and writing the TV sitcom The Good Guys (1968-70) starring Bob Denver and Herb Edelman as a couple of pals who are always trying get-rich-quick schemes. Edelman owns a diner, Denver is a limo driver. It only ran a couple of seasons but it is fondly remembered by fans.

After this he wrote three comedies for George Segal: A Touch of Class (1973), The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox (1976), and Lost and Found (1979). His last screenplay was The Great Muppet Caper (1981)! (Something special about that — as a noir parody it had more than a little in common with My Favorite Brunette, one of his first.)

Though he was now 70, Rose did not retired just yet. Through the 1980s his main gig was writing for the annual Academy Awards telecasts. He himself was nominated for three Oscars The Seven Little Foys, Houseboat, and A Touch of Class, though he never brought one home.

For more on show biz history, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on classic comedy read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.