Jazz singer and film and television actress Rosemary Clooney would have celebrated her 90th birthday on May 23rd.
She was born in Maysville, Kentucky in 1928. Her first performance was at the age of three, but her big break was in 1945 when she and her sister Betty won a regular spot on Cincinnati radio station WLW as singers. They were then discovered by bandleader Tony Pastor and toured with his big band for a couple years. In 1949 Betty returned home and Rosemary, aged 21, pursued a solo singing career in New York City.
One of her first big hits was the Italianesque novelty “Come On-a My House” in 1951 with Columbia Records. Although she was reluctant to record it, the song made her a household name. She continued to rack up hits and collaborated with many artists, including Duke Ellington on the album Blue Rose. While many of her albums were nominated for a Grammy, they never won. She received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on February 28, 2002.
In 1954 she starred with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen in the classic White Christmas. Two years later Rosemary had a variety show on CBS. Throughout her career she guest starred on multiple TV shows, including appearing on ER alongside her nephew George Clooney.
While Rosemary had a celebrated career, her personal life was not as happy. She married Jose Ferrer, who was 16 years her senior, twice. She suffered from depression and battled an addiction to prescription drugs. Rosemary wrote about her life and career in Girl Singer: An Autobiography.
Rosemary released more than 50 albums during career with the last album being released in the year of her death, 2002. She had a career that lasted over 50 years and we have enjoyed them all.
What is your favorite Rosemary Clooney recording?