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Mama Rose's Turn: The True Story of America's Most Notorious Stage Mother
     

Mama Rose's Turn: The True Story of America's Most Notorious Stage Mother

4.2 6
by Carolyn Quinn
 

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Hers is the show business saga you think you already know—but you ain't seen nothin' yet. Rose Thompson Hovick, mother of June Havoc and Gypsy Rose Lee, went down in theatrical history as "The Stage Mother from Hell" after her immortalization on Broadway in Gypsy: A Musical Fable. Yet the musical was 75 percent fictionalized by playwright Arthur Laurents and

Overview

Hers is the show business saga you think you already know—but you ain't seen nothin' yet. Rose Thompson Hovick, mother of June Havoc and Gypsy Rose Lee, went down in theatrical history as "The Stage Mother from Hell" after her immortalization on Broadway in Gypsy: A Musical Fable. Yet the musical was 75 percent fictionalized by playwright Arthur Laurents and condensed for the stage. Rose's full story is even more striking.

Born fearless on the North Dakota prairie in 1891, Rose Thompson had a kind father and a gallivanting mother who sold lacy finery to prostitutes. She became an unhappy teenage bride whose marriage yielded two entrancing daughters, Louise and June. When June was discovered to be a child prodigy in ballet, capable of dancing en pointe by the age of three, Rose, without benefit of any theatrical training, set out to create onstage opportunities for her magical baby girl—and succeeded.

Rose followed her own star and created two more in dramatic and colorful style: "Baby June" became a child headliner in vaudeville, and Louise grew up to be the well-known burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee. The rest of Mama Rose's remarkable story included love affairs with both men and women, the operation of a "lesbian pick-up joint" where she sold homemade bathtub gin, wild attempts to extort money from Gypsy and June, two stints as a chicken farmer, and three allegations of cold-blooded murder—all of which was deemed unfit for the script of Gypsy. Here, at last, is the rollicking, wild saga that never made it to the stage.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
02/01/2014
Known best (though inaccurately) as the overbearing stage mother in the musical Gypsy, Rose Thompson Hovick struts to center stage in Mama Rose's Turn. Given the half-truths and embellished stories in books by and about Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister, June Havoc, parts of this book are based on "speculation" if not prevarication, despite judicious attempts at fact-checking. Rose was a hard-drinking "ball-buster" who ignored personal boundaries. She worked hard and thrived on a certain amount of chaos. Historical researcher Quinn (coeditor, The Ziegfeld Times) gives voice to Rose with quotes from letters, newspaper stories, interviews, historical archives, biographies, and autobiographies. The author's writing is generally calm and factual, occasionally bursting (as Rose might have done) with resentment that pours out "like a molten volcano" or a temper that goes "berserk" whereupon Rose "slugs" one daughter. There was a "gigantic row" and a "problem with booze" before Rose was kicked out of a nursing home and died in 1954 at age 63. VERDICT Readers with an interest in Gypsy Rose Lee, vaudeville, burlesque, or dysfunctional families will be the natural audience for this title. Consider for larger collections.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch., Fort Worth, TX

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781617038532
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
Publication date:
11/01/2013
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
583,860
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

CAROLYN QUINN grew up in Roselle and Scotch Plains, NJ, a member of an outrageous and rollicking extended family. She became interested in theatrical history at the age of twelve after participating in a theater arts workshop and later obtained a B.A. in English and Theater/Media from Kean University. Carolyn wrote "MAMA ROSE'S TURN: The True Story of America's Most Notorious Stage Mother" after extensively researching the life of Rose Thompson Hovick, whose colorful and unorthodox parenting style inspired the musical Gypsy. She is Co-Editor of The Ziegfeld Times for The Ziegfeld Society. Carolyn lives in New York City and can be contacted through her website, www.carolynquinn.net. "MAMA ROSE'S TURN" is her first book. She wants readers to know that she had an absolutely fabulous time researching it!

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Mama Rose's Turn: The True Story of America's Most Notorious Stage Mother 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Myrt's Review Mama Rose's Turn - The True Story of America's Most Notorious Stage Mother by Carolyn Quinn Forever immortalized in the musical 'Gypsy', as the ultimate stage mother, Rose Thompson Hovick's life was so much more than that of the single minded, brassy, iconic 'Mama Rose' of stage and screen.  Both her famous daughters, child star and actress June Havoc and infamous stripper, Gypsy Rose Lee wrote books about their lives which presented wildly different perspectives of their childhoods. Gypsy's more humorous book was used as the very loose basis for the musical 'Gypsy, A Musical Fable' but the musical was taken as fact and the legend of Mama Rose, the stage mother from hell began. The book is extremely focused and well researched. Quinn is definitely a fan of Rose's.  The book gives a detailed look at Rose, starting with her European grandparents' arrival in the Midwest and Rose's childhood in North Dakota to Rose's first teenage pregnancy (a 12 pound Gypsy!) and eventual taking of her two daughters on the road.  Rose's antics often go to the extreme and it's easy to see how she became the standard for all stage mothers to come to be measured by.  Rose was volatile, manipulative, scheming and overwhelming at various times.  She was banned from several venues where her daughter Gypsy was working. Rose was even accused of murder several times. In her later years she became a lesbian and never really had any strong male relationships. Most of her relationships, particularly with her daughters, were dysfunctional.  She was always restless, working her next plan or scheme. The book gives not only an in depth look at an intriguing woman and her attempts to make her children into stars but it also provides a fascinating look inside the days of vaudeville and burlesque.  It is definitely a good read about an unusual woman and the times she lived in. I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating look at the legendary mother of June and Gypsy.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a young teen the author became infatuated with the story of Gypsy Rose Lee, her sister June Havoc and their mother Rose. What was the truth surrounding them? After much research their story is put down in this book. It was much like reading a soap opera in print. There were many downs and a few ups. This is a interesting look at a famous family that has had conflicting views written about them. I feel an accurate account was given here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very interesting and well researched book. Mama Rose has always been a fascinating character. This book helped connect some of the dots to her actions and give a greater depth to her than just a stage mom. I liked the way the author also tied all the research together and gave a clearer picture of a complicated women. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Shannon_Luster More than 1 year ago
Mama Rose’s tale told in this book… Mama Rose’s Turn: The True Story of America’s Most Notorious Stage Mother, written by Carolyn Quinn, centers around a notorious stage mother, Rose Thompson Hovick. Author Quinn chronicles Rose’s complicated life. Rose had two daughters and proceeded to enter into Vaudeville, pushing her two daughters, June and Gypsy, into fame. But at the risk of revealing too much about this book’s plot, I will say no more about that. Personally, I was excited to read this book. The world of Vaudeville has always interested me, and any book that promises to cover that is something that I want to read. That was what first drew me to Quinn’s book, Mama Rose’s Turn: The True Story of America’s Most Notorious Stage Mother. However, author Quinn was quick to defend Mama Rose’s actions no matter how questionable the latter’s actions are. For example, Quinn dismissed the crushing responsibility that it had on her elder daughter, June, to financially support everyone in their family for years and proceeded to defend as well as justify all of Rose’s actions. Quinn also continued to justify Rose’s decisions to transform her younger daughter, Louise i.e. Gypsy Rose Lee, into a burlesque style star after Vaudeville ended. It seemed apparent to this reader that author Quinn is sympathetic towards Rose regardless of what Rose does. And for that reason, it also made me question the objectivity of this book, because author Quinn is so quick to defend Rose in nearly all matters. Overall, I would rate this book 3 out of 5 stars because of the reasons above.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mama Roses Turn was stunning. I got lost in a good way in this dramatic and highly entertaining multigenerational saga. The tale was rich in drama and awash with vivid remembrances. Quite simply this story was spellbinding. It is hard to believe it is a first book. I was captivated by the lives of Rose, Louise, and June Hovich. The ins and outs of a stage mom and her young children provided a lot of entertainment. The vivid details and intimate look into the majority of these famous womens lives kept me enthralled. I could see myself right beside them. Vaudeville came alive in these pages. I could hardly put the book down. I know you too would both enjoy this tale and clamor for more. I would love to read the writings by June and Gypsy Rose as well. I do believe this would be quite a fascinating film as well. Kudos