Singer Rosemary Clooney buried

July 5, 2002 at 4:15 PM
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MAYSVILLE, Ky., July 5 (UPI) -- The woman once described as "America's songbird," who battled back from alcohol and drug addictions, was buried Friday in her hometown as more than 700 mourners packed St. Patrick's Church.

Rosemary Clooney died from cancer last Saturday at the age of 74 following a hospital stay in California. Her body was returned to Kentucky for burial.

Actor George Clooney, her nephew, served as one of 10 pall bearers for the singer once described by late Gov. A.B. "Happy" Chandler as "America's songbird." Among the other mourners were Al Pacino, Beverly D'Angelo and Debbie Boone, Rosemary Clooney's daughter-in-law.

Nick Clooney, the singer's brother and a former Cincinnati television news anchor, eulogized his sister as someone who could connect with anyone from "Maysville to Singapore and everywhere in between."

"It was a deceptively simple gift, just as her singing was deceptively simple," Nick Clooney said

Mourners began lining up outside the church at 6 a.m. and by 8 a.m. two dozen had assembled for the 10 a.m. funeral mass.

Bob Hope sent white orchids and other mourners sent roses in honor of the singer's nickname, "Rosie."

Residents of Augusta, where Clooney owned a home, came up with a musical tribute for Clooney -- a computer chip with as many as 24 Clooney songs to be used in the community's carillon in the clock tower of Augusta Independent School. The chip will be produced by the Verdin Bell Co.

"She loves the carillon," organizer Louis Habermehl told the Maysville Ledger-Independent.

Clooney was a pop song stylist compared to Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, whose life's travails sometimes seemed at odds with her professional success.

She wrote a book, "This for Remembrance," published in 1978 about her recovery from a nervous breakdown triggered in part by her divorce from movie actor Jose Ferrer and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

Clooney began her professional career singing with her younger sister on WLW radio in Cincinnati in 1945. Bandleader Tony Pastor hired the pair in 1947 and then in 1951 Clooney recorded "Come on-a My House" and became an instant success. In her memoirs, Clooney wrote she hated that song and felt it was "a cheap way to get people's attention."

Her healthy, girl-next-door appearance helped her win a movie contract, with her most remembered Hollywood role coming in "White Christmas" with crooner Bing Crosby. She also starred in "The Stars are Singing," "Here Come the Girls," "Red Garters" and "Deep in My Heart" with Ferrer.

Clooney relaunched her career in the 1970s and won an Emmy for her 1995 appearance on television's "ER," on which her nephew, George, had a starring role.

Clooney married dancer Dante DiPaolo in 1996. Among her survivors are her brother, sister and 10 grandchildren.

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