Wednesday, June 29, 2011
TODAY IN BING HISTORY
Today, June 29th in Bing Crosby history - his frequent co-star Rosemary Clooney died of cancer at the age of 74 in 2002. She had starred with Bing as his leading lady in WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954). They also recorded numerous radio shows together, and she appeared with Bing in some of his last concert shows in 1976 and 1977.
Beginning in 1977, she recorded an album a year for the Concord Jazz record label, which continued until her death. This was in contrast to most of her generation of singers who had long since stopped recording regularly by then. In the late-1970s and early-1980s, Clooney did television commercials for Coronet brand paper towels, during which she sang a memorable jingle that goes, "Extra value is what you get, when you buy Coro-net." Clooney sang a duet with Wild Man Fischer on "It's a Hard Business" in 1986, and in 1994 she sang a duet of Green Eyes with Barry Manilow in his 1994 album, Singin' with the Big Bands.
She guest-starred in the NBC television medical drama ER (starring her nephew, George Clooney) in 1995; she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. On January 27, 1996, Clooney appeared on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion radio program. She sang "When October Goes" -- lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Barry Manilow (after Mercer's death) -- from Manilow's 1984 album 2:00 AM Paradise Cafe, and discussed what an excellent musician Manilow was.
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.
Clooney was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of 2001. Around this time, she gave her last concert, in Hawaii, backed by the Honolulu Symphony Pops; her last song was "God Bless America". Despite surgery, she died six months later on June 29, 2002, at her Beverly Hills home. Her nephew, George Clooney, was a pallbearer at her funeral, which was attended by numerous stars, including Al Pacino. She is buried at Saint Patrick's Cemetery, in Maysville, Kentucky...