May 23: Rosemary Clooney - "Come On-a My House," Mambo Italiano - was born on this date in 1928…

… she died on June 29, 2002.

Rosemary Clooney was born in Maysville, Kentucky.  She came to prominence in the early 1950s with the novelty hit "Come On-a My House" which was followed by other pop numbers such as "Botch-a-Me" (a cover version of the Italian song Ba-Ba-Baciami Piccina by Alberto Rabagliati), "Mambo Italiano,” "Tenderly,” "Half as Much,” "Hey There" and "This Ole House."She went on to success as a jazz vocalist.

When Clooney was fifteen, her mother and brother, Nick, moved to California. She and her sister, Betty, remained with their father. Rosemary, Betty and 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 Clooney for much of her 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. Around 1952, Rosemary recorded several duets with Marlene Dietrich.

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16 Biggest HitsGirl Singer: An Autobiography


In 1954, she starred, along with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen, in the movie White Christmas. In later years, Clooney would often appear with Crosby on television, such as in the 1957 special The Edsel Show, and the two friends made a concert tour of Ireland together.

On November 21, 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, Clooney and Crosby co-starred in a 20-minute CBS radio program aired before the midday news each weekday.

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.

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.

Clooney's career languished in the 1960s, partly due to problems related to depression and drug addiction. (Clooney suffered for much of her life from bipolar disorder. She revealed this and other details of her life in her two autobiographies; This for Remembrance: the Autobiography of Rosemary Clooney, an Irish-American Singer, and Girl Singer: An Autobiography.

In 1964, she went to Reprise Records, and in 1965 to Dot Records. She moved to United Artists Records in 1966. Beginning in 1977, she recorded an album a year for the Concord Jazz record label, which continued until her death in 2002 from lung cancer.

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.

She is also the aunt of Academy Award winning actor George Clooney.




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