Billy Rose began his career as a song lyricist, best known for "Me and My Shadow", "Great Day," "Does the Spearmint Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight" (with Rose and Marty Bloom), "I Found a Million Dollar Baby (in a Five and Ten Cent Store)", and "It's Only a Paper Moon."
He went on become a night club owner, Broadway producer, and theatre owner. He produced the large-scale spectacle "Jumbo," starring Jimmy Durante at the New York Hippodrome Theatre. For Fort Worth Frontier Days he constructed the huge elaborate dinner theatre, "Casa Manana," featuring stripper Sally Rand and the world's largest revolving stage.
At the 1939 New York World's Fair, "Billy Rose's Aquacade" starred Olympian Eleanor Holm in what the fair program called "a brilliant 'girl' show of spectacular size and content." He married Holm shortly thereafter, divorcing his first wife,comedienne Fanny Brice.
In 1943, he produced Carmen Jones with an all-black cast. An adaptation of George Bizet's opera Carmen, the story was transplanted to World War II America by lyricist and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. It was an instant hit. The Telegraph called it "far and away the best show in New York," the Times said it was "beautifully done...just call it wonderful," and the Herald Tribune said that Oscar Hammerstein II "must be considered one of the greatest librettists of our day" and that Carmen Jones was "a masterly tour de force." It was made into a motion picture in 1954, for which Dorothy Dandridge received an Academy Award nomination.
Billy Rose founded the Billy Rose Art Garden in Jerusalem.