Related Artists

Doris Day


Peggy Lee


Perry Como


The Andrews Sisters


Gene Autry


Ella Fitzgerald


Tony Bennett


Burl Ives


Judy Garland


Bobby Helms

Rosemary Clooney Biography


Home > Music > C > Clooney, Rosemary > Biography


Born: 1928/05/23
Birth Place: Maysville, Kentucky, U.S.
Died: 2002/06/29
Years Active: 1946–2001
Genres: Traditional Pop, Vocal Jazz


Rosemary Clooney was born May 23, 1928 in Maysville, Kentucky and was a singer and an actress. Rosemary, her sister Betty and brother Nick all became entertainers. In 1945, the Clooney sisters won a spot on Cincinnati, Ohio's radio station WLW as singers. Her sister Betty sang in a duo with Rosemary for much of the latter's early career.

Clooney's first recordings, in May 1946, were for Columbia Records. She sang with Tony Pastor's big band. Clooney continued working with the Pastor band until 1949, making her last recording with the band in May of that year and her first as a solo artist a month later, still for Columbia. In 1951, her record of “Come On-a My House,” produced by Mitch Miller, became a hit. It was her first of many singles to hit the charts — despite the fact that Clooney hated the song passionately. She had been told by Columbia Records to record the song, and that she would be in violation of her contract if she did not do so. Clooney recorded several duets with Marlene Dietrich and appeared in the early 1950s on “Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town” series on CBS. Clooney also did several guest appearances on the Arthur Godfrey radio show, when it was sponsored by Lipton Tea. They did duets as he played his ukelele and other times she would sing one of her latest hits.

In 1954, she starred, along with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen, in the movie “White Christmas.” She starred, in 1956, in a half-hour syndicated television musical-variety show “The Rosemary Clooney Show.” The show featured The Hi-Lo's singing group and Nelson Riddle's orchestra. The following year, the show moved to NBC prime time as “The Lux Show Starring Rosemary Clooney” but only lasted one season. The new show featured the singing group The Modernaires and Frank DeVol's orchestra. In later years, Clooney would often appear with Bing Crosby on television, such as in the 1957 special “The Edsel Show,” and the two friends made a concert tour of Ireland together. In 1960, Clooney and Crosby co-starred in a 20-minute CBS radio program aired before the midday news each weekday.

Clooney left Columbia Records in 1958, doing a number of recordings for MGM Records and then some for Coral Records. Finally, toward the end of 1958, she signed with RCA Victor Records, where she stayed until 1963. In 1964, she went to Reprise Records, and in 1965 to Dot Records.

Upon her recovery from a nervous breakdown in 1968, Clooney signed with United Artists Records in 1976 for two albums. Beginning in 1977, she recorded an album a year for the Concord Jazz record label, which continued until her death.

In the late-1970s and early-1980s, Clooney did television commercials for Coronet brand paper towels, during which she sang a memorable jingle. Clooney sang a duet with Wild Man Fischer on “It's a Hard Business” in 1986, and in 1994 she sang a duet of “Green Eyes” with Barry Manilow in his 1994 album, “Singin' with the Big Bands.”

In 1995 Clooney guest-starred on the NBC television medical drama, “ER” (starring her nephew, George Clooney). For her performance, she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. In 1999, Clooney founded the Rosemary Clooney Music Festival, held annually in Maysville, her hometown. She performed at the festival every year until her death. Proceeds benefit the restoration of the Russell Theater in Maysville, where Clooney's first film, “The Stars Are Singing,” premiered in 1953. She received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

A long-time smoker, Clooney was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of 2001. Around this time, she gave her last concert, in Hawaii, backed by the Honolulu Symphony Pops. Despite surgery, she died six months later on June 29, 2002, at her Beverly Hills home. She is buried at Saint Patrick's Cemetery, Maysville.