At age 13, singer Rosemary Clooney crossed the river from her Kentucky hometown to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she and her sister Betty sang on a local radio station. In 1949 Clooney was signed to a solo record contract by Columbia musical director Mitch Miller. Two years later, she scored her first hit, the Ross Bagdasarian novelty song "Come On'a My House," which she reprised in her first film, The Stars are Singing (52). Paramount hoped to turn Clooney into a movie star, but after Here Come the Girls (53), Red Garters (54) and White Christmas (54), she grew weary of Hollywood. Concentrating on television, Clooney headlined several network series, and also starred in her own 39-week syndicated variety show in 1955, which was distinguished by its offbeat guest-star lineup (including such non-musical celebs as Buster Keaton and Boris Karloff!) As her career began diminishing in the 1960s, her reliance upon alcohol increased, culminating in a highly publicized stay in a California psychiatric ward. Happily she recovered, successfully launching a whole new career on the concert stage as a jazz vocalist. In 1977, Clooney wrote a grimly revelatory autobiography, This for Remembrance, which was later adapted into a TV biopic starring Sondra Locke. Rosemary Clooney was for many years married to stage and film star Jose Ferrer; she is the mother of actor Miguel Ferrer, the sister of TV talk host Nick Clooney, and the aunt of TV's ER heartthrob George Clooney.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Began singing at the age of 3 and performed with her two-year-old sister at her grandfather's political rallies in Maysville, Ky.
- Moved to Cincinnati to live with her maternal grandparents at the age of 13.
- Rose to fame with the 1951 hit "Come On-a My House," which she disliked, but was told she would be fired if she didn't record.
- Made her film debut in 1953 musical The Stars are Singing.
- A friend of Robert F. Kennedy, she was at the Ambassador Hotel when the senator was assassinated in 1968.
- Was nominated for an Emmy in 1994 for appearing on ER, which starred nephew George Clooney, as an Alzheimer's patient.
- Son Gabriel is married to singer Debby Boone.