Greetings, fellow roadies and road music lovers! It’s time for that Route 66 Song Of The Week, one of the multitudes of versions of our favorite travel anthem. We really meant to put this one up last year around the time that George Clooney got married (hoping that he and his new bride would take the hint from George’s Aunt Rosie), but for some reason we never did, silly us.
Rosemary Clooney was the prototypical ‘girl singer’ of the World War II and postwar era. There was always at least one attached to most big swing bands. In the case of Benny Goodman, it was Peggy Lee. Duke Ellington had Joya Sherrill and a few others. Count Basie stuck with the guys most of the time – Jimmy Rushing and, later, Joe Williams – but Basie was atypical. Rosie began her recording career in 1946 singing with Tony Pastor’s big band for Columbia Records.
Rosemary Clooney in a 1952 publicity glamour photo.
Before that Rosie Clooney and her sister Betty, who grew up with their brother, newsman and broadcaster Nick Clooney (George’s dad) in Maysville, KY, about 60 miles southeast of greater Cincinnati, started singing locally on Cincinnati’s radio station WLW in 1945. By 1951, she had a hit single on the pop music charts, “Come On-a My House,” which turned out to be the first of many hit recordings during the 1950s and 1960s. She’s perhaps best known for having co-starred with Bing Crosby, Vera Ellen and Danny Kaye in the musical film White Christmas, which featured the song of the same name, and for her many TV appearances during the 1950s and 1960s. However, her career began to wane during the 1960s in part because of her bipolar disorder and drug addiction. She also had a nervous breakdown in 1968 following her second divorce from actor José Ferrer (in 1967; she had divorced him the first time in 1961 and had remarried him in 1964), from which it took her some years to recover.
Her singing career got a reboot in 1976 when she signed with United Artists Records for two albums, then got a further boost in 1977 when Bing Crosby asked her to appear with him at a show marking his 50th anniversary in show business. Starting that same year, she recorded an album a year for Concord Records, a jazz label. She continued rrecording until her death in 2002. What most of the younger (Gen X?) generation might remember, however, is her guest appearance with nephew George on the popular TV series ER in 1995 (in which George was one of the stars), for which she received an Emmy nomination the following year.
A lolngtime smoker, Clooney died from lung cancer. This recording is from one of her later albums. We hope you enjoy it. It includes actress Dorothy Malone and Bobby Troup himself, author of our favorite Route 66 song. Cheers!
Until next time,
your own DJ SweetMarie