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 Billy Rose

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Billy Rose

  • Birth 6 Sep 1899 Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA
  • Death 10 Feb 1966 Montego Bay, Saint James, Jamaica
  • Burial Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, USA
  • Plot Mausoleum across the drive from the Gershwin mausoleum and near the cemetery entrance.
  • Memorial ID 900

Broadway Producer, Song lyricist, Entrepreneur. He was born William Samuel Rosenberg in the Bronx. After graduating from The High School of Commerce in New York, Rose was trained in shorthand by Robert Gregg the creator of the Gregg shorthand system. At age 16, he won a high speed dictation contest sponsored by Gregg and was hired by the creator to prove the systems efficiency. During WWI he obtained a position as a stenographer in Washington D.C. to Bernard Baruch who was the head of the War Industries Board. After the War, Rose returned to New York and began working on Broadway while shortening his name to Billy Rose. His claim as a songwriter and lyricist were at best a title grab with the ultimate goal of receiving royalties. He would suggest clever lyrical changes to the actual songwriter which were cheerfully accepted. The writer would name him as a collaborator because of his ability to promote songs while negotiating with music publishers. Songwriters received lucrative royalty checks while subtracting a share for Rose. A few of his credited songs..."I Found A Million Dollar Baby in a Five and Ten Cent Store" "It's only a Paper Moon" and "Me and My Shadow." He began producing many successful Broadway productions during the times while both a theatre and nightclub owner...In 1943, he produced the block buster "Carmen Jones" with an all-black cast . The hit show was later made into a film by Otto Preminger and starred Dorothy Dandridge. His production of "Jumbo" starred Jimmy Durante and live elephants on the stage of the Hippodrome Theatre. It was also made into a film in 1962 starring Doris Day. His nightclub known as Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe became famous for its vaudeville style shows including a chorus line of 250 pound women. The watering hole inspired musical films of the same name starring Betty Grable in 1940 and another in 1945 featuring Gene Kelly. Rose's extravaganza productions away from Broadway are legend. His first in 1934 was for Fort Worth Frontier Days with the construction of a huge elaborate dinner theatre called "Casa Manana" which featured stripper Sally Rand appearing on the world's largest revolving stage. Rose introduced "The Aquacade" to Cleveland's Great Lakes Exposition in 1936. It was a floating amphitheater featuring water ballet, hundreds of swimmers including Johnny Weissmuller. At the 1939 World's Fair in New York his show "Billy Rose's Aquacade" was once again resurrected and starred Olympic medal winner swimmer Eleanor Holm. The brilliant all girl show attracted the Fair's largest crowds until it closed. Rose took the Aquacade to San Francisco for the world's fair in 1940. In 1947, Rose began writing "Pitching Horseshoes," a weekly column which at its peak ran in over 200 newspapers across the U.S. Legacy...The saga of his final will...Billy Rose was an immensely wealthy man when he died of lobar pneumonia at his vacation home in Montego Bay, Jamaica at the age of 66. Billy Rose fans impatiently waited for the reading of his will. His earnings made from Broadway, Clubs and songwriting were invested in real estate and the stock market. He was the largest single stockholder with AT&T and the New York Central Railroad. His holdings also consisted of his residence, the former William Goadby Low mansion on E. 93rd and an estate in Mount Kisco housing a large collection of modern art. He was the owner/operator of the Billy Rose Theater which at the time of his death housed four plays. In the wings were waiting a full compliment of would be benefactors including former ex-wives from his many trips to the altar including Fannie Brice, Eleanor Holm as well as members from his own immediate family. The reading was a bombshell as most of the fortune went to a museum...The Israel Museum located in Jerusalem for creation of a five acre sculpture garden which also was intended to be his burial place. However...the Museum denied him burial among the futuristic sculpture he had donated. Jewish Orthodox religious customs forbid such showplace burials. His two sisters contested the will wanting themselves declared sole heirs. For two years his remains lay in a temporary vault. A compromise was reached and a free standing mausoleum was constructed in Westchester Hills Cemetery and Billy was permanently entombed. Beneath a stain glass window in the crypt is a tribute to New York's showman. Find a Grave has an image on display in the photo section. Rose was one of three founders of the Songwriters Protective Association (SPA) now The Songwriters Guild of America. His photo graced the cover of the June 2, 1947 edition of "Time Magazine. Inside was a feature story about his new nightclub, the refurbished Glen Island Casino. The Theatre Collection which is a repository for the documents of theatre, past and present at the New York City Public Library was renamed the Billy Rose Theatre Collection by virtue of a major financial gift from his estate which enabled the facility to organize its vast holdings while making more purchases of theatre related materials. Books about Billy Rose...Billy Rose: Manhattan Primitive by Earl Conrad and The Nine Lives of Billy Rose: An Intimate Biography by Polly Rose Gottlieb.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 900
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Billy Rose (6 Sep 1899–10 Feb 1966), Find A Grave Memorial no. 900, citing Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .