After almost six months of marriage, St. Elsewhere’s Jamie Rose is still having trouble learning to be a neat ‘n’ tidy housewife. The actress admits she’s “really sloppy,” and tends to do things such as leaving strings of dental floss on the coffee table, prompting her husband, screenwriter James Orr, to say, “Put it away, pu-leeze! I’m gonna throw up!” But Rose now has time to clean up after herself. She’s just lost her job. Her St. Elsewhere character, Dr. Susan Birch, has been fired for incompetence and, although she is slated to return for revenge, Rose is out of regular work.
This may make Rose, 26, more famous for switching jobs than keeping them. In just three years she’s been dropped from Falcon Crest (where she played Victoria Gioberti) and axed along with her own series, 1985’s Lady Blue. “At least I haven’t been overexposed,” quips the charming optimist.
Endowed with curly red hair and the most piercing green eyes since Scarlett O’Hara’s, Rose is the daughter of showfolk. Her mother, Reta, is a former Radio City Rockette, and her father, Stewart, a song-and-dance man. Raised in Van Nuys, Calif., Jamie first acted in a Kool-Aid commercial, then segued to the more demanding role of a buttercup in a Life cereal commercial. Her career as a child actress came to a voluntary end at 13 when she suddenly became self-conscious in front of the opposite sex. “I was doing a Mountain Dew commercial,” she recalls, “and I was supposed to shout ‘Ya-hoo!’ But there were boys there. I thought, ‘I can’t do this in front of boys.’ ”
A year later her family moved to Fresno, and Rose spent her high school years going out with “weirdos with Harleys and tattoos.” After briefly attending three colleges, she enrolled as a theater major at Cal State at Northridge, “but I couldn’t get cast in the plays. So I decided that if I was going to get rejected, I might as well get rejected in the real world.”
After winning the role on Falcon Crest in 1980, she remained with the series for two and a half seasons until her character was deemed expendable. “I found out I’d lost the job four days after I bought a house,” she says. “It was scary.”
Lady Blue, an ABC police series featuring Rose as a distaff Dirty Harry, lasted for 13 episodes last season. While the show wasn’t exactly Medea, says the actress, “it was still a great experience. You don’t get much opportunity to star in your own series, especially if you’re a woman.”
Declining an offer to return to Falcon Crest, Rose auditioned for St. Elsewhere this summer and was hired three hours later. “It was unusually fast,” she says. Easy come, easy go.
Now Rose has free time for husband James, 33, who scripted Tough Guys and Splash II. The couple lives in a rustic, two-story cottage high in the Hollywood Hills. Jamie insists there’s no competition between the partners. “We’re both in showbiz, but we don’t do the same job. In fact, because we’re in the same arena, we both understand what it means. If I were married to a banker, he wouldn’t understand about my angst.”
Rose feels no angst about her unemployment record. She says, “I even feel fortunate that my career has moved ahead just a little at a time. I’ve had the opportunity to learn my lessons quietly and not mess up.”