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Rosemary Clooney

Rosemary Clooney

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Also Known As: Died: June 29, 2002
Born: May 23, 1928 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Maysville, Kentucky, USA Profession: singer, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The career of singer-actor Rosemary Clooney is actually two careers separated by a 20-year gulf of child-raising, marital troubles and substance abuse. Part 1 began in 1945 at the age of 16 when Cincinnati radio station WLW hired the Maysville, Kentucky native and her 13-year old sister Betty to sing duets for $20 apiece. Appearances with local bands brought them to the attention of bandleader Tony Pastor, and 'The Clooney Sisters' debuted with his big band at Atlantic City's Steel Pier in 1947. After Betty opted for the quiet life of Cincinnati, Rosemary struck out on her own for NYC, signing a recording contract with Columbia which yielded the star-making hit "Come On-a My House" in 1951. Hollywood beckoned and her appealing chirping style and cute personality made her an immediate screen star in movie musicals like "The Stars Are Singing" (her debut) opposite Anna Maria Alberghetti, "Here Come the Girls" (both 1953) with Bob Hope and "White Christmas" (1954), starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera-Allen. Clooney's 1953 marriage to Academy Award-winning actor Jose Ferrer capped her whirlwind storybook ride to the top, and she settled down to motherhood after a stint hosting a TV program of...

The career of singer-actor Rosemary Clooney is actually two careers separated by a 20-year gulf of child-raising, marital troubles and substance abuse. Part 1 began in 1945 at the age of 16 when Cincinnati radio station WLW hired the Maysville, Kentucky native and her 13-year old sister Betty to sing duets for $20 apiece. Appearances with local bands brought them to the attention of bandleader Tony Pastor, and 'The Clooney Sisters' debuted with his big band at Atlantic City's Steel Pier in 1947. After Betty opted for the quiet life of Cincinnati, Rosemary struck out on her own for NYC, signing a recording contract with Columbia which yielded the star-making hit "Come On-a My House" in 1951. Hollywood beckoned and her appealing chirping style and cute personality made her an immediate screen star in movie musicals like "The Stars Are Singing" (her debut) opposite Anna Maria Alberghetti, "Here Come the Girls" (both 1953) with Bob Hope and "White Christmas" (1954), starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera-Allen.

Clooney's 1953 marriage to Academy Award-winning actor Jose Ferrer capped her whirlwind storybook ride to the top, and she settled down to motherhood after a stint hosting a TV program of music and songs, first as a syndicated vehicle ("The Rosemary Clooney Show" 1956) with Nelson Riddle as her music director and later under the aegis of NBC and Lux (known as "The Lux Show Starring Rosemary Clooney" 1957-58). She then disappeared from sight, periodically surfacing for appearances on the shows of her good friends Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, as well as some specials. There was the negative publicity surrounding her two divorces from Ferrer and the drug addiction and nervous breakdown she described in her harrowing 1977 autobiography "This For Remembrance", adapted as the 1982 CBS movie "Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story". Many people in the music business considered her finished. "She was so ill," remembers longtime Clooney friend Michael Feinstein, "that it was doubtful that she would ever sing again. So the fact that she came back is almost unbelievable."

But come back she did. While touring with Bing Crosby in the last year of his life, the opportunity presented itself for Clooney to record with the fledgling Concord Jazz label. Her first Concord effort "Everything Coming Up Rosie" (1977) plus a series of releases devoted to the music of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer, among others, established her as one of the most persuasive interpreters of a song lyric. Since her first nomination for "Girl Singer" (1992), she has been a perennial Grammy nominee, movie soundtracks like "Married to the Mob" (1988) and "Radioland Murders" (1994) have featured her as a song performer, and her first-ever appearance at Carnegie Hall in 1991 led to subsequent triumphs at that venue. She has also acted on TV, perhaps most memorably as a Bible-toting murderess in the CBS movie "Sister Margaret and the Saturday Night Ladies" (1987) and as a singing Alzheimer's patient on two episodes during the first season of the NBC drama series "ER", starring her nephew George Clooney, for which she received an Emmy nomination.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Radioland Murders (1994) Anna
3.
 Conquest of Space (1955) Herself
4.
 White Christmas (1954) Betty Haynes
5.
 Red Garters (1954) Calaveras Kate
6.
 Deep in My Heart (1954) [performer in] "That Midnight Girl"
7.
 Here Come the Girls (1953) Daisy Crockett
8.
 The Stars Are Singing (1953) "Terry" [Brennan]
9.
 Rosemary Clooney: Girl Singer (2001) Interviewee
10.
 Marlene Dietrich: Her Own Song (2001) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1945:
At age 16, hired to sing duets with her 13-year old sister Betty on Cincinnati radio station WLW for $20 apiece
:
Appearances with local bands brought 'The Clooney Sisters' to attention of bandleader Tony Pastor
1947:
Debuted with Pastor's big band at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City
1949:
Fed up with touring, Betty decided she preferred a quiter life and returned to Cincinnati (date approximate)
1949:
Struck out on her own for New York, where she signed a recording contract with Columbia Records
:
Made one of earliest TV appearances on "The Morey Amsterdam Show" (CBS)
1951:
Enormous success of "Come On-a My House" catapulted her to stardom
1952:
First appearance on "The Bob Hope Show" (NBC)
1953:
Film debut opposite Anna Maria Alberghetti, "The Stars Are Shining", in which she sang "Come On-a My House"
1953:
Acted opposite Bob Hope in "Here Come the Girls"
1954:
Starred along with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera-Allen in "White Christmas", a partial reworking of "Holiday Inn" (1942)
1954:
Guest-starred in "Deep in My Heart", starring husband Jose Ferrer; last film acting appearance to date
1956:
Hosted a short-lived synicated program of music and songs, "The Rosemary Clooney Show"
1957:
Moved to NBC to host a new "The Rosemary Clooney Show"
:
Period of relative inactivity except for guest appearances on "The Bob Hope Show" (NBC) and "The Bing Crosby Show" (ABC & CBS), as well as some specials
1977:
Toured with Bing Crosby during last year of his life (date approximate)
1977:
First release with Concord Jazz, "Everything's Coming Up Rosie"
1982:
CBS movie "Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story", adapted from her autobiography, "This For Remembrance"; also credited as song performer
1987:
Performed three songs for the feature "Track 29"
1987:
TV acting debut as a Bible-toting murderess in CBS movie "Sister Margaret and the Saturday Night Ladies", although a guest-starring role on an episode of "Hardcastle and McCormick" (ABC) actually aired first
1991:
First-ever Carnegie Hall performance, "In Concert: Rosemary Clooney and the Arrangers"
1993:
"A Tribute to Bing Crosby" won her accolades at Carnegie Hall
1993:
Appeared as Gladys on "Miracle on Third or Fourth Street" episode of NBC sitcom "Frazier"
1994:
Guest-starred as Madame X, an Alzheimer patient prone to belting out songs without warning, on two episodes during the first season of NBC drama series "ER", starring her nephew George Clooney; received Emmy nomination
1995:
Feted on A&E's "The Rosemary Clooney Golden Anniversary Celebration"; brother Nick Clooney and his son George were among the guests
1997:
Sang "Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread)" for soundtrack of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"
1998:
Song performer ("I Wish You Love"), CBS movie "Chance of a Lifetime"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

A cause close to Clooney's heart is the Betty Clooney Foundation for persons with Brain Injury, named after her sister who died of a brain aneurysm in 1976. Clooney serves as master of ceremonies of an annual musical extravaganza benefiting the Betty Clooney Center in Long Beach, California--a unique post-rehabilitation facility that offers affordable, community-based vocational and recreational services for survivors of brain injury.

In July 1995, ASCAP awarded Rosemary with the Pied Piper Award, describing her as "an American Musical Treasure and one of the best friends a song ever had."

In January 2002, Clooney underwent surgery for lung cancer.

Mike Nichols once remarked, "She sings like Spencer Tracey acts. ... I think that stems from respect for the composer and lyricist. I think I've known enough of them, in an intimate way, to appreciate what they do ...

"Cole Porter was [socially] 'correct' to the point of no return. I once changed a seating arrangement before a dinner at Gary Cooper's house, because I didn't want to sit next to whoever it was. And Cole came up behind me and said, 'You can't do that. Ever. Ever ...

"When he [Irving Berlin] would call me, I would say, 'How do you feel?' And he'd say, 'How the hell do you think I feel? I'm old.' And I would laugh. And he would not." --Rosemary Clooney to The Chicago Tribune, July 31, 1997.

"Her perfect intonation, a timbre that's pure as crystal, phrasing that's intelligent, sincere and unforgettable." --Bette Midler describing the singing voice of Rosemary Clooney in The Hollywood Reporter, November 16, 1990.

"Rosemary Clooney has that great talent which exudes warmth and feeling in every song she sings. She's a symbol of good modern American music." --Frank Sinatra, quoted on Clooney web site

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Jose Ferrer. Actor, director. Married on July 13, 1953; divorced in 1962; remarried in 1963; divorced in 1967; born on January 8, 1912; died on January 26, 1992.
husband:
Dante Di Paolo. Dancer. First met in 1954; dated briefly; met again in 1973; moved in together; married on November 7, 1997; born c. 1926.

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Nick Clooney. TV host, former news anchorman. Host for AMC cable network; younger.
sister:
Betty Clooney. Singer. Born c. 1931; died of a brain aneurysm in 1976; appeared as a regular on short-lived "The Jack Parr Show" (CBS, 1954).
sister:
Gail Clooney.
son:
Miguel Ferrer. Actor. Born on February 7, 1955.
son:
Rafael Francisco Ferrer. Born in 1956.
daughter:
Maria Providencia Ferrer. Children's tapestry designer. Born in 1957.
son:
Gabriel Vicente Ferrer. Born in 1959; married to singer-actor Debby Boone.
daughter:
Monsita Teresa Botwick. Born in 1960.
nephew:
George Clooney. Actor. Son of Nick Clooney; born on May 6, 1961.
niece:
Cathi Campo. Singer. Daughter of Betty Clooney.
grandson:
Jordon Ferrer. Born c. 1980; father, Gabriel Ferrer.
granddaughter:
Gabrielle Ferrer. Born c. 1983; twin of Dustin.
granddaughter:
Dustin Ferrer. Born c. 1983; twin of Gabrielle.
granddaughter:
Tessa Ferrer. Born c. 1986; father Gabriel Ferrer.
grandson:
Lucas Brandon Jose Ferrer. Born in June 1993; father, Miguel Ferrer, mother, Leilani Sarelle.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"This For Remembrance"
"Girl Singer" Doubleday

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