Rita Rose remembers: a headache every day, the wonder years and Elvis

Dateline: Mon 06 Aug 2007

As you know, Friday Aug. 3 marked "30" for Star staff members Rita Rose, David Mannweiler, Bonnie Britton, Denny Hoffman and Star librarian Kathy Hogan.

Rita sent an email to some friends and colleagures, recalling her career. Here are excerpts:

"I have worked at The Star since I was 18, fresh out of high school and taking night courses at IU-Extension, which eventually became IUPUI. At some point, I was learning more at work than in school, so that went by the wayside. I started out doing a split job in the mornings, helping to sort mail for the different depts. and general errand-running that copyboys (yes, that's all we had) didn't do. The first week I worked I came home with a headache every day from listening to the teletype machines in the city room, which never seemed to stop. I remember walking into the city room for the first time and meeting veteran reporters whose names I recognized, and who stayed around for years. It was such an honor. In the afternoon, I pasted up TV logs -- anyone remember those gooey paste pots? -- onto sheets of copy paper, rolled them into the old Royal typewriter, and typed the new listings to the side, then sent them up the tube system to the composing room.

"Right from the start I was in the "drama dept." which eventually became "features." I've worked with the guys in the composing room doing hot type, and in the '80s, cold type. I was in Features for 42 years, in all its various incarnations and changes of office space. and less than a year on the Zones copy desk, which was a new and rewarding experience. Along the way, I have worn many hats, including TV clerk, theater and pop/rock concert reviewer (my first was a Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians concert (never mind if you're younger than 60!), movie critic, video columnist, book reviewer, assistant Arts and entertainment; Entertainment Editor and copy editor. The best days, of course, were as a reporter and getting to interview some of the top celebrities -- and some not so famous -- many of whom came to town for summer stock. I actually got to sit and chat with them in person instead of on the phone, which became the norm several years later when we "previewed" shows. The most fun was talking to the "teen idols" whose posters I had all my wall in high school, people like Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Brenda Lee, Paul Anka, Bobby Vee and Freddy Cannon. Oh yes, and all the Disney Mouseketeers...And it didn't feel like work at all.

"During the concert days, I reviewed Elvis 3 times: The first was the early '70s when he was young and slim, doing his karate chops and swirling his blue cape -- the Ultimate Elvis. The second was around 1974 when he gave a horrible concert at the Convention Center, mumbling his words, not finishing his songs, looking bloated and sick. I trashed his show, got lots of hate mail from fans and ended up with a quote in the National Enquirer about the "hangover on his belt." So, I got my 15 minutes of infamy. Zach Dunkin and I both reviewed Elvis' last concert ever, in Market Square Arenain June 1977. It was better than 1974, but still not great. I decided to be somewhat kind. Zach's review in the News trashed him. Zach killed Elvis -- just ask him! (The irony is

that Zach, my "rival" reviewer at the News, became my boss during the 1995 Star-News merger, and to this day people ask us about "the last Elvis concert.")"

Rita gives special thanks to Lynn Hopper, her mentor at the paper for a long time.

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