Actor Rose Marie shamed her harasser in 1954 and paid dearly for it.

To hear some critics tell it, sexual harassment and assault are modern problems brought on by loosening sexual mores, the infiltration of women into male spaces, and the abandonment of "traditional" values.

A tragic counterpoint is the story of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" star Rose Marie who, at 94, wrote an op-ed for the Hollywood Reporter about being harassed at work in 1954 and her heartbreaking experience when she tried to verbally shame her harasser.

Rose Marie. Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images.


Marie wrote that her moment came on the set of the musical "Top Banana." The actor and comedian clapped back at her harasser — a producer on the film — and, predictably, suffered professional consequences as a result.

The producer of the film came up to me after I'd run through the song called "I Fought Every Step of the Way," which had boxing references, and said that he could show me a few positions. He wasn't referring to boxing. I laughed it off, but he said he was serious and that the picture could be mine.

Well, in front of everyone onstage, I said, "You son of a bitch, you couldn't get it up if a flag went by." Needless to say, that didn't go over well with him, and all my musical numbers were cut from the film. I had no idea that his reaction to my refusal would be so bad.

I realized then that the rumors of the casting couch weren't jokes and why some actresses were getting breaks and why others, sometimes way more talented, weren't.



Marie's story illustrates why victims of harassment and abuse often don't "fight back."

A recent University of Michigan analysis found that less than a third of all people who have experienced workplace harassment reported it. Of those who didn't, most were afraid of being branded "troublemakers" and being subjected to sidelining, marginalization, or worse.

Those fears are founded. A 2016 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission analysis found that 75% of reporters experienced some form of retaliation.

If we're only hearing about these stories now, that may be because victims finally feel they will be believed.

Dustin Hoffman. Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images.

The stories themselves span decades. In 2004, former writers assistant Amaani Lyle sued Warner Bros. for racial and gender-based harassment she said she endured in the "Friends" writers room almost 20 years ago. (Lyle ultimately lost the suit in 2006.) Earlier this year, writer Anna Graham Hunter described being verbal harassed by actor Dustin Hoffman on the set of "Death of a Salesman" in 1985 — 32 years ago. And those are just the very tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to gender-based harassment and abuse, there was nothing good about the "good ol' days."

Women were harassed, abused, intimidated, and blackballed in the workplace back then too. Their overwhelmingly male bosses helped forge a culture of silence where victims were often too isolated and too professionally vulnerable to speak out.

We should be grateful that those days are, slowly but surely, coming to an end.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.