The Return of Aunt Rose

Formerly entitled

The Nude Bomb

by Graeme Cree

In February 2007, after getting the Get Smart DVD Set from Time Life, I put together a page called The Aunt Rose Files; a tribute page devoted to the only character in Get Smart more elusive than Agent 13. Since I hadn't had time to actually watch the DVD's in full at that time, the Aunt Rose sightings on that page were largely compiled from sightings mentioned in The Life and Times of Maxwell Smart, ones that the Internet Movie Database had on file at the time, and ones I remembered off the top of my head. After having had a chance to watch the full series again, many more Rose sightings have arose (arisen?), crying out to be chronicled.

Episode 24:  Stakeout on Blue Mist Mountain
Here's Aunt Rose, standing in a crosswalk, in her trademark blue dress. One thing about her that escaped my attention while doing the original Aunt Rose page is what an operator she is. You usually think of secret agents as being the ones who score with the opposite sex, but not here. Whereas Max spends the entire series with 99, Aunt Rose is more of a Bond than he is, appearing on this page in the company of no less than 7 different male escorts. Now, if only they'd given her Bond's catch phrase. ("My name is Rose. Aunt Rose.")

Episode 25:  The Amazing Harry Who
Here Aunt Rose is eating alone, for a change. But even this is not without its hazards, as we see two agents beginning a gun battle for the privilege of sharing her table.

Note on Episode Titles: Harry Who? It's Hoo, isn't it? Not quite. One with the eagle eye of Maxwell Smart will notice that the credits for his first appearance list his name as 'Harry Who', while the credits for his second and final appearance list him as 'Harry Hoo'. Fans hate loopholes like that, and so, in true fan fashion, I've written a 120 page fanfic story detailing the traumatic, disillusioning and life-changing incident that led to Mr. Hoo's decision to de-Anglicize his name from Who to Hoo. For reasons not quite clear to me, 35 fanzines have rejected the story so far... Whoops! Would you believe 36? (I just checked my e-mail).

Episode 30:  Last One In Is A Rotten Spy
Rose appears in the final scene of this episode, doing a one-and-a-half gainer off the high board... Er... no, wait a minute. That's her over there, sitting on the bench at the far left. Sorry about that, but it's not always easy to make a positive ID when you can't see her face, and the only description that IMDB gave of her role was "Woman at the pool". I mean, that could be anybody.

Episode 32:  Strike While The Agent Is Hot
In this one, Aunt Rose shows up as a shopper at a KAOS Bookstore. Actually, she wasn't scheduled to appear in this episode at all, but you know Rose; she never could resist a bargain.

Episode 33:  A Spy For A Spy
As mentioned, a close look at Rose's appearances show her to be quite the Man's Lady (or whatever the opposite of a Lady's Man is), frequently in the company of a new male companion. In this episode, she has dinner with Larabee, of all people, showing that the producer's plan for Rose's love life was to have her start small and work her way up.

Episode 34:  The Only Way To Die
Aunt Rose shows up here as an onlooker, while Max, as the episode title suggests, gives an instructional lecture on the art of dying. While his technique (i.e. lying motionless on the ground while bleeding from the forehead) is appreciated by all, the crowd disagrees with his dogmatic assertion that this is really the ONLY way to die. Some of their suggested alternatives include 'Being shot out of a cannon', 'Falling into a chocolate vat while touring the Hershey factory', 'Being shot by a jealous husband', and the #1 answer: 'Old Age'.

Episode 44:  The Whole Tooth And...
Here we see Rose working at a magazine stand being patronized by Max and two KAOS agents. (The episode takes place shortly after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had done away with segregated counters).

Episode 44:  The Whole Tooth And...
Here we see Rose in a restaurant again, and with yet another man in tow. As you may recall, this is the famous scene in which Max, trying to get himself arrested by not paying his bill, ends up having the waiter, manager, and sympathetic patrons all shower him with cash. All except Aunt Rose, however. When the other patrons lay all the moolah on Max, Rose doesn't join in, mumbling something about "giving at the office". A senior citizen on a budget doesn't get by with impulse spending like that.

Episode 47:  Somebody Down Here Hates Me
I'm not really sure about this one. I've only got this episode listed because the Internet Movie Database lists Rose as appearing in this one as "Woman on Street", and if that's the case, this is the only person she could possibly be. It doesn't look much like her to me, though. Judging by the look on Max's face, he's not too sure, either. You can't be too careful; there are lots of Aunt Rose imitators out there, but only one original.

Episode 55:  How To Succeed In The Spy Business Without Really Trying
Here's Aunt Rose, appearing as Siegfried's sister, hiding in a blue insurance machine, with matching heels (Nice touch, that.).

You may be asking, how can we possibly know that this is Aunt Rose, when all you can see are her feet? We know, because Bernie Kopell, Siegfried himself, said so in his excellent DVD Commentary for this episode.

Upon learning that the source for this information is Siegfried, one might then ask "Would you take the word of a man who's a murderer, a thief, and a liar?", to which I would, quite naturally, reply "Only if he was sincere."

And you know what? Siegfried wasn't sincere. That can't be Aunt Rose in the box, because THAT'S Aunt Rose behind the counter.

Episode 54:  The Expendable Agent
The airport counter turns out to be fairly steady work for Aunt Rose, as we see her there on several different occasions. This episode takes place on that unfortunate day that Hai Karate aftershave released its short-lived line of fragrances for women.

Episode 49:  The Man From YENTA
Aunt Rose's position working at the airport doesn't prevent her from seeking opportunities elsewhere. In this episode, Agent 498 (The Man From Y.E.N.T.A.), interviews Rose to see whether she has the qualifications to star in their new spin-off series, The Girl From Y.E.N.T.A.. To prove her yenta experience, Rose names as references, the girls at the Bridge Club, the milkman, the butcher, and those neighbors who don't pull down their shades.

Episode 52:  Smart Fit The Battle of Jericho
Aunt Rose is in this scene at the Las Vegas restaurant and casino, but she leaves (with yet another male escort, of course) almost the moment the scene begins. You've heard of a Walk-On role? This one's a Walk-Off.

Episode 52:  Smart Fit The Battle of Jericho
Here's Aunt Rose in one of her lesser-known cameos, playing Agent Charlie Watkins, of Control West. It looks like a good makeup artist can not only take off 10 years, he can also add a few things...

Episode 57:  Pussycats Galore
Here we see Rose, in the airport again, but working a different counter...
No, not there. Over to the left... MORE to the left. No, no, that's the middle, focus your eyes all the way to the left of this picture...
(Sigh, I knew I should have cut 99 out of this shot.)

Episode 58:  A Man Called Smart, Part 1
The first time we see Aunt Rose working for either KAOS or Control, she turns up on the side of the Good Guys, working the Teller's window at the Control Savings & Loan Bank, which handles Bribes, Paid Informers, Ransoms, and other Good Guy activities.

Episode 58:  A Man Called Smart, Part 1
In this episode, Rose finds herself checked into one of those new "Economy" hotels. The overcrowding is bad enough, but drawing lots to see whose turn it is to get to sleep is downright ridiculous.

Episode 58:  A Man Called Smart, Part 1
Here's Aunt Rose the day she bought a new TV and invited all her friends over to watch her speaking part in Closely Watched Planes.

Episode 58:  A Man Called Smart, Part 1
Here's Aunt Rose leaving the hotel through the revolving door. Oddly enough, though she's been going around with all these different men lately, she's not going around with anybody in this shot. (Boo, Hiss!)

Episode 61:  The Spy Who Met Himself
Almost missed this one. It's harder than usual to spot Rose in location shots, and she just squirts right past the viewer in this one. She's sneaky, perhaps too much for her own good. Can you imagine trying to use this experience to get future work? "Do you have any previous experience in Hollywood?" "Oh yes, I was in The Spy Who Met Himself. See?" "Where?" "Right there." "Where? I don't see you." "That's because you blinked. Let me rewind it."

Episode 63:  Witness For the Persecution
Not an Aunt Rose appearance, but the question is "Why the heck not???" As the first part in the show that explicitly required a Little Old Lady, Aunt Rose should have been the obvious candidate. It can't be that it was too involved a part for her, all she had to say was two words: "Hello, Honey!" Are you telling me Aunt Rose couldn't handle that part? But still, she didn't get the job. A lot of people are annoyed that Ed Platt isn't in this episode, but Aunt Rose's omission is the real crime. Kathryn Minner, the Little Old Lady who did get the job still gets hate mail from me to this day.

ADDENDUM: Further research has shed a little light on the issue. In the "Truth is Stranger Than Fiction" Category, it seems that Kathryn Minner was something of a "Professional Little Old Lady" at the time, and that her line "Hello, Honey" was something of a catch phrase. Her entry on Wikipedia reveals that she had recently starred in a series of commercials for Dodge, which featured the slogan "Put a Dodge in your garage, Honey!" Apparently, this is what helped her beat out Rose for the part. People were supposed to see her, go "Oh my gosh, it's that lady from the Dodge commercials!", and break up laughing, when she said "Hello, Honey."

As Harry Hoo would say, "Amazing!" Frankly, I'd have never dreamed that this was a Celebrity Cameo, or that "Hello, Honey" was intended as a funny line. Alan Spencer, in the Sledge Hammer DVD commentaries, has criticized the laugh track, calling it an insult to the public to imply that they need to be told when to laugh. But in this case... I needed to be told when to laugh.

Episode 67:  One Of Our Olives is Missing
As Control Agents, Max and 99 are often assigned to guard VIPS and Visiting Dignitaries. Guess who they were sent to protect tonight?

(Note: The titular 'Missing Olive' was found later by Popeye.)

Episode 77:  The Little Black Book, Part 2
In this episode, Rose turns up as Ernest Borgnine's wife. Ernest is the one on the left.

(The preceding joke has been stricken. On the one hand, I can't bear to make such a cutting remark about such a sweet little old lady. On the other hand, this joke cries out so badly to be told that I've had to seek major psychiatric counseling to deal with the trauma caused by not telling it. They say you have to suffer for your art...)

Oddly enough, she's not called "Aunt" or "Rose" here. Borgnine calls her "Mae", probably as a setup for some "Rose by any other name" joke that got cut for time.

Episode 78:  Don't Look Back
Rose isn't actually seen in this episode. At this point in the season, the Guest Star budget was starting to become severely strained by her frequent appearances. As a result, rather than having her appear onscreen, they decided to save money by just having Aunt Rose be telephoned by Uncle Miltie.

Episode 87:  The Impossible Mission
Hoping to get in touch with the Beat Generation, Aunt Rose ditched her airline counter job for a while, in favor of a job at a record store. However, she proves to be a little too off-Beat for the Beat Generation, when they don't buy her idea that Lawrence Welk albums belong in the Rock & Roll section.

Episode 87:  The Impossible Mission
And here's Aunt Rose in Otto Hurrah's summer production of Beatnik and Old Lace.

Episode 90:  The Secret of Sam Vittorio
In Hollywood, Aunt Rose is a big name. But out in the heartland, nobody knows who she is. That's why she carries the American Express Card.

Episode 101:  Hurray For Hollywood
It's generally a good bet that when there's a crowd scene, Aunt Rose is in it somewhere. She's in attendance at Max and 99's play all right. But it's a bit distressing to think that the most experienced miller-arounder in this entire series only rates a 4th row seat.

Episode 103:  Tequila Mockingbird
Everybody knows the tradition of getting in line early for Star Wars tickets, but Aunt Rose is among the first to get in line early for Star Wars auditions. Here we see Rose and an unnamed Jedi Knight in line about 8 years too early to audition for the Cantina Scene in Star Wars, Episode 4.

Episode 104:  I Shot 86 Today
Is Aunt Rose in this episode or isn't she? Frankly, I've got my doubts. I haven't seen her, and only have this one listed at all because of the Internet Movie Database again, which credits her as "Woman at Golf Course (uncredited) (unconfirmed)".

Did you catch that "unconfirmed" bit? It's distressing to think that this may be their shorthand way of saying "Maybe she's not really here at all and we're just trying to sucker you into going through the whole episode frame by frame looking for something that isn't there." (It's even more distressing to think that I may be the only sucker that they caught this way.)

In something as big as a golf course, she could be anywhere. She could be over the hill (literally, not figuratively). She could be looking out the window of that house over there. Who'd know? Since this seemed to be the kind of job that called for real investigators, I sent Max and 99 themselves to the course to try to locate her. After about a half hour of waiting around, they got bored and left.

Episode 111:  The Not-So-Great Escape, Part 1
This episode provides another example of Aunt Rose's ability to slip in under the radar. You can often find her in the background of a scene, but not always. Sometimes you might be looking for her in one part of the screen, and she scoots past in the other direction. Like The Shadow, she has the ability to cloud men's minds so that they cannot see her (a skill which has its drawbacks on Prom Night).

Episode 111:  The Not-So-Great Escape, Part 1
Here's Rose doing her thing later in the same episode, passing undetected through the airport again, after an outfit change. Unconfirmed rumors have it that when Rose's old outfits are retired they're sent to the Air Force to line the wings of the new B-2 stealth bombers.

Episode 114:  Ironhand
In this episode, Rose and her latest male escort attempt to try out for a Barbershop Quartet. The unsuspecting barber asks "Don't you need four for a quartet?", to which Rose quips "I've got a quartet. Me, myself and I and him. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" (They don't get the job.)

Later, the two of them offer to film a series of commercials for Nike, using the slogan "Just Duet." They don't get that job either.

Episode 123:  Age Before Duty
Whoa, Nelly! What a part this one is!! Aunt Rose in a bar full of sailors!! I've thought of no less than 38 punchlines for this picture... and I can't repeat a single one of them in mixed company. Sigh...

Episode 123:  Age Before Duty
One unfortunate postscript to this episode is that Rose was picked up by the Police immediately afterwards on a C.U.I. (Cameoing Under the Influence)

Episode 127:  House of Max, Part 1
Rose shows up in this episode on a Wax Museum tour, with yet another of her seemingly never-ending string of male escorts. The only mystery this time is why she's suddenly dating Tom Landry.

"Episode" 139:  The Nude Bomb
Regrettably, by 1980 when this movie was made, Aunt Rose was a big enough star to be able to have an understudy perform her actual onscreen duties. The seamstress that Norman St. Savage clones to provide clothing for the world is named Madame Rose, rather than "Aunt", But considering that Leonard Stern was involved with this film, we don't need to have a house dropped on our head to know who this character is supposed to be. For the first time ever, one is almost sorry that Max cracked the case. "You know, 99, in a way, it's kind of a shame." "You mean, if only he had used his cloning machine for Niceness instead of Evil?" "No, I mean if he had succeeded, there would have been enough Aunt Rose for everybody!"

Quick Quiz:
Which legs belong to Aunt Rose, and which belong to 99?

Images Copyright Time-Life/HBO