Mad Woman in a ‘Mad Men’-era, advertising agency founder Rose Rice dies at 93

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In the advertising world of the 1960s, the ‘Mad Men’ Don Drapers and Roger Sterlings ruled Madison Avenue.

Yet in 1962 Miami Beach, you can add one Mad Woman to a real-life cast: Rosalie “Rose” Rice.

Not unlike the fictional Peggy Olson from television’s “Mad Men,” who rose from secretary to copywriter to founding member of an ad agency, Rice, who died March 1 at 93, took a historic plunge.

In 1962, Rice left her job as personal assistant, bookkeeper and reporter for the late Paul Bruun, owner of the Miami Beach Sun, and started Rose Rice Associates in Miami Beach.

According to Stan Bodner, retired owner of Bodner Advertising and Greater Miami Advertising Federation board member, Rice became one of the first female ad agency owners in Miami Beach — if not the state.

“I was an advertising guy from 1957 to 2012 and have seen it all. When I was in advertising there were no minorities around. No females anywhere — they were secretaries and that was it. She was able to break that barrier,” Bodner said. Today, he adds, “90 percent of the salespeople are females.”

For more than 30 years, Rose Rice Associates became the go-to ad agency for many of the hotels in Miami Beach, Surfside and Sunny Isles Beach. She represented Lifter Enterprises whose properties included the Marco Polo Hotel and the former Waikiki Resort Motel. Rice was elected president of the Greater Miami Advertising Federation in 1979. She supported the Jewish Museum of Miami Beach, the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Children’s Cancer Caring Center.

Rose was respected and beloved by her many clients and vendors and hundreds of Miamians.

Retired ad agency owner, Stan Bodner.

Small in size — about 5 feet tall — but large in stature, Rice, who had no children and never married, devoted her life to the advertising profession.

“You were my mentor and great friend for several decades together, including the Advertising Federation. You taught me everything I knew about Ad Fed,” wrote Susan Gilbert of Pompano Beach on Rice’s obituary.

“You were an inspiration to me and I will always remember how you took me under your wing at the hotel association meetings,” added Graceanna Henderson. “You were always there to mentor me and I always felt you were my 2nd Momma.”

Along the way, Rice received the Jack Phillips Gold Medal from the state’s American Advertising Federation, its highest honor, for her contributions to advertising. She was its 1971 Advertising Personality of the Year. In 1981, she became the first woman to receive the federation’s Silver Medal Award, said Bodner.

“She was in charge of her clients and she knew what she was doing and let them know when they were going astray.”

Rice, who never drove, “hitched her last ride in a ‘limousine,’” Bodner wrote in her obituary. No car in Miami and a successful business owner? He advances a theory: “She was very resourceful.”

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