Actress, Singer. She is probably best remembered for her 1951 novelty hit "Come On-a My House," which was followed by other pop numbers such as "Botch-a-Me," "Mambo Italiano," "Tenderly," "Half as Much," "Hey There," and "This Ole House." Her deep, rich, and smooth voice earned her recognition as one of America's premier pop and jazz singers. She made her singing debut in Cincinnati, Ohio, on radio station WLW in 1941 at the age of 13. On WLW she worked with band leader Barney Rapp, who had also worked with Doris Day and Andy Williams at the same station. She attended high school at Our Lady of Mercy in Cincinnati. In 1946 she appeared with her sister Betty in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the Steel Pier with Tony Pastor's band and started recording for Columbia Records. In 1949 she went solo and recorded several duets with Marlene Dietrich and appeared in the early 1950s on "Faye Emerson's Wonderful Town" series on CBS. During this time she appeared in the films "Slaughter Trail" (1951), "The Stars are Singing" (1953), "Here Come the Girls" (1953), "Red Garters" (1954), "Deep in My Heart" (1954, cameo appearance), and "White Christmas" (1954, co-starring with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye). In 1956 she starred in a half-hour syndicated television musical-variety show "The Rosemary Clooney Show" that 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" that the singing group "The Modernaires" and Frank DeVol's orchestra but only lasted one season. 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 November 1957 she appeared on NBC's "The Ford Show" starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, a frequent entry in the "Top 20" and featuring a musical group called "The Top Twenty." In 1960 she and Crosby co-starred in a 20-minute CBS radio program aired before the midday news each weekday. In 1958 she left Columbia Records and recorded for MGM Records and Coral Records. Toward the end of 1958, she signed with RCA Victor Records, where she stayed until 1963, eventually moving on to Reprise Records, and then to Dot Records. In 1953 she married actor Jose Ferrer who was 16 years her senior and they had five children between 1955 and 1960 and her marriage to Ferrer was tempestuous and they divorced in 1961. They remarried in 1964 and divorced again in 1967. In 1968 she joined the presidential campaign of close friend Robert F. Kennedy, and heard the shots when he was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. A month later she had a nervous breakdown onstage in Reno, Nevada, and was hospitalized and remained in psychoanalysis therapy for the next eight years. In 1976 she wrote her first autobiography, "This for Remembrance: The Autobiography of Rosemary Clooney, an Irish-American Singer." In 1977 her career was revived when Bing Crosby asked her to appear with him at a show marking his 50th anniversary in show business. In 1983 she and her brother Nick co-chaired the Betty Clooney Foundation for the Brain-Injured, in honor of her sister who died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in 1976, that addressed the needs of survivors of cognitive disabilities caused by strokes, tumors and brain damage from trauma or age. In 1994 she made her final film appearance in "Radioland Murders." In 1995 she guest-starred in the NBC television medical drama "ER" and for her performance, she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. In 1999 she published her second autobiography, "Girl Singer: An Autobiography," that described her constant battles with addiction to prescription drugs for depression, and how she lost and then regained a fortune. The same year, she founded the Rosemary Clooney Music Festival, held annually in her hometown of Maysville, Kentucky, performing there every year until her death. In 2001 she was diagnosed with lung cancer and died at her home six months later at the age of 74. Her life was dramatized in the 1982 made-for-television movie, "Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story," played by actress Sondra Locke. She received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 and in 2003 she was inducted into the Kentucky Women Remembered exhibit and her portrait by Alison Lyne is on permanent display in the Kentucky State Capitol's rotunda in Frankfort. She was the aunt to Academy Award-winning actor George Clooney and mother-in-law to singer Debby Boone.
Bio by: William Bjornstad