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Rose Van Alden is the wife of Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden. She is a devout Christian and supporter of prohibition. Rose is played by Enid Graham.


Season 1[]

Nelson is assigned to investigate New York crime boss Arnold Rothstein for links to bootlegging. ("Boardwalk Empire") He links Rothstein to Atlantic County Treasurer Nucky Thompson and believes Thompson is a better target. He investigates a multiple murder, correctly believing it occurred during the hijacking of a shipment of liquor. The newspapers report that Hans Schroeder was responsible when his body is found. Nelson believes this is a cover-up and develops an attraction to Hans' widow Margaret Schroeder when he questions her. ("The Ivory Tower")

He identifies Jimmy Darmody as a suspect in the murder/hijacking and wants permission to arrest Jimmy for murder personally because of police corruption. Supervisor Elliot instructs Van Alden to wait until he has asked for clearance from Bodine (meaning Joseph Lamb Bodine the US Attorney for the District of New Jersey). Elliot tells Van Alden to go home, see his wife, and rest for a few days but Van Alden insists on staying in Atlantic City. Elliot orders Van Alden to go home and then congratulates him on his work. Once home Nelson compliments Rose on her cooking as they eat an otherwise quiet dinner. ("Broadway Limited")

Nelson holds hands with Rose and says grace before they share a meal. He comments on the untidiness of the garden and she bursts into tears. He asks what is wrong and then says that she puts herself through the same thing every month. Rose says that her inability to have children means that she is not fully a woman and refuses to accept his reassurances. He urges her to eat; she dries her eyes and does so. She tells him that her friend Naomi Ellsworth has told her that she might be able to get help to conceive. Van Alden is angry that she has discussed their private life and Rose says that her friend had difficulties of her own. Van Alden argues that God would have given them a child if he wanted them to have one. Rose counters that God would not have given them modern medicine if he didn’t intend them to make use of it. He believes that her friend has fed her this idea. She shakes her head and says that she needs $200 to see an obstetric surgeon in Manhattan. He complains that his salary is barely sufficient. She tearfully says that she wants to give him a son. He purses his lips and puts a hand on her shoulder. He says that he wants her to be happy and promises to do what he can. He again urges her to eat. ("Hold Me in Paradise")

Rose writes to Nelson enclosing a leaflet about corrective surgery for childless women. He writes back to her urging her to follow God's plan for them and she bursts into tears and shreds the letter. ("Hold Me in Paradise")

Season 2[]

Nelson calls Rose from a payphone in the hospital. He has been visiting his injured subordinate Agent Clarkson and is feeling increasingly guilty about his corruption. She is concerned because it is late in the evening. He informs her about Clarkson’s injuries and expresses self recrimination. She is supportive and tells him he cannot blame himself for the evils in the world and that he should find solace in working to combat them. Nelson's guilt overwhelms him and he holds the receiver to his chest. He gathers himself and prepares Rose by telling her that he has always acted out of love. Rose is frightened by his tone. Nelson tells her he is unfit for both their marriage and his badge. He says that he loves her and ends the call abruptly. Fearing for Nelson, Rose comes to Atlantic City. Knowing that he is no longer at the boarding house she gets Nelson's apartment address from Agent Sawicki and goes there. On her arrival she discovers that her husband has been living with showgirl Lucy Danziger and that Lucy has just had Nelson's baby. Lucy delivered the baby on her own in the apartment. Rose tidies the house and cares for Lucy while they wait for Nelson to return with a doctor. ("The Age of Reason")

When Nelson gets in he notices that the kitchen been tidied and goes through to the bedroom and finds Rose mopping Lucy’s brow. Disbelieving, he closes his eyes and looks again. Rose turns around and observes that Lucy has a mild fever. Rose offers to leave the doctor to his work and walks into the corridor with her husband. Nelson asks why she is there and she explains that she was concerned after his call and that she got the address from Sawicki. She says that she now knows what was really upsetting him. He tries to explain his deception as a way to give Rose a child and touches her arm. She loses her composure, telling him not to touch her and pounding on his chest with her fists. He grabs her wrists and pins her against the wall, asking her to calm down. She bites his hand until he releases her and she then leaves the apartment. ("The Age of Reason")

Rose writes to Nelson to request a divorce in late July 1921. ("Georgia Peaches") He signs the papers a few days later. ("Under God's Power She Flourishes")


Memorable Quotes[]

  • "Maybe it's better we don't have children. This world, Nelson..."


Season one appearances
Boardwalk Empire The Ivory Tower Broadway Limited Anastasia
Nights in Ballygran Family Limitation Home Hold Me in Paradise
Belle Femme The Emerald City Paris Green A Return to Normalcy
Season two appearances
21 Ourselves Alone A Dangerous Maid What Does the Bee Do?
Gimcrack & Bunkum The Age of Reason Peg of Old Two Boats and a Lifeguard
Battle of the Century Georgia Peaches Under God's Power She Flourishes To the Lost