The Rose of Washington Square was introduced by Ms Fanny Brice during the Mid-Night Follies. The title of this song also became the title of a movie musical, featuring Tyrone Power, Alice Faye and Al Jolson. Apparently, the plot of the film was so similar to the events of the life of Ms Brice that she took offence (she hadn’t been asked) and sued 20th Century Fox, Mr Power and Ms Faye (for their representation of Fanny’s former husband and herself) — for $750 000, according to the Ottawa Citizen of 15 July 1939. She also sued Mr Jolson (just because he was there — she never liked him; in her early days on the stage, his show stopping often stopped her going on at all). For his part in the film, Al was only getting $6000 a week, and the occasional smile from Ms Faye — not enough in his view (Evening Independent, 7 Feb 1939).
The song has two versions of the words, the nice and the not so nice.
They call me Rose, of Washington Square
A flower so fair, Should Bloom where the sunshines Rose,
for nature did not mean — That you should blush unseen
But be queen of some fair garden Rose
I’ll never depart, But dwell in your heart
Your love to care — I’ll bring the sunbeams from the heavens to you
And give you kisses that sparkle with dew My Rose
of Washington Square.
They call me Rose of Washington Square
I’m withering there. In basement air I’m fading, Pose,
with or without my clothes. They say that my Roman Nose
It seems to please artistic people Beaux
I’ve plenty of those. With seconded hand clothes,
And nice long hair..
I’ve got those Broadway vampires lashed to the mast
I’ve got no future but Oh! what a past I’m Rose
Of Washington Square!