"It's not fair!" fumed Rose Marie. "I've been nominated three times for the Emmy, but now I can't vote!"
Not only did she reap several bids as best supporting actress for portraying a smart-aleck gag writer on "The Dick Van Dyke Show," but the show won best comedy series four times in a row (1963-66), a record not broken till "Frasier" scored five consecutive victories three decades later (1994-98).
Rose Marie may be an Emmy queen, but she doesn't feel like she's getting the royal treatment. When I ran into her last night at the party for the Hollywood Museum's Marilyn Monroe exhibition (the late sex kitten would've been 84 years old yesterday), Rose Marie shared her frustration over the voting process.
As a dues-paying member of the TV academy, she receives a ballot to vote, "but where are the choices?" she asked. "They don't tell you who's in the running. I can't fill out the ballot. It's not fair!"
Rose Marie's Emmy conundrum is the result of the TV academy advancing in the Internet age. Alas, some old-timers get left behind. The list of Emmy contenders that Rose Marie needs in order to fill out her five choices for acting nominees in a given category are posted online.
"I don't have a computer!" she confessed. "So I can't vote!"
Not true. I explained to her that the TV academy will give her a paper listing of contenders, but she needs to request it ahead of time. It's a big, thick bundle that staffers need to print out, bundle and ship.
That's not the only gripe Rose Marie has against the Emmys. She's still sore that she lost several times, but she's got a good sense of humor about it.
"I kept losing to dead people!" she confessed with a wry smile.
That's not exactly true, but the outcry makes for a good joke. She lost only once to a dead person: 1966 when the prize went to Alice Pearce, who portrayed nosey neighbor Gladys Kravitz on "Bewitched." Pierce died of cancer just months before the Emmy ceremony, so there was heavy sentiment behind her bid. The other two times Rose Marie lost, she competed in a category that included both comedic and dramatic performances and she lost to live stars giving dramatic turns: Glenda Farrell ("Ben Casey," 1963) and Ruth White ("Little Moon of Alban," 1964).
But behind the wisecrack Rose Marie made was a reference to a curse that seemed to hang over comedy's supporting actress race. In 1968, the award was bestowed posthumously again, this time by Marion Lorne, who portrayed an absent-minded witch on "Bewitched."
Photo: "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (CBS)
Photo: Rose Marie (Robert Freeman / Hollywood Museum)