Friday, October 14, 2022


In this touching remembrance, Rosemary Clooney remembers when Bing died:

We closed [at the London Palladium] and had one night off before we did one more concert in Brighton. That would be our last concert together. The hall in Brighton was called either the Brighton Civic Center or Brighton Convention Center .... There was no real stage, a temporary one was built from platforms that were brought in. There were bleachers and thousands of people for the show. There were no wings as such, but we could open a door to the audience and look out. Kathryn said to me, "Do you notice anything about the audience tonight? ... They're very demonstrative when we finish a number, but when they're sitting there, they look as though they're in church. Take a look."

Bing was on stage and I looked outside and it was true. There was really a reverence about it. It was totally different from any other audience that we ever had. I remember that more vividly in hindsight because of events, rapidly approaching, that would have a traumatic effect not only one our lives but also on the world of music lovers.

After the show I was dressing on a different floor from Bing and Kathryn. It was a big building, and the mob of people had sort of surged through the doors and were half backstage when Bing started his run for the waiting car. I came down some stairs, I remember, and caught him halfway in the hall and said, "I'm not going to see you anymore," meaning that I was not going to see him in England as I was returning to Los Angeles. Bing said, on the run, "I'll buy you dinner when I get home."

It was the last time I saw him. The following morning I went to record my part for the BBC -- a radio show we were supposed to do together -- and Bing was going to record his part the following day because I had to leave right away. I did my half of the dialog even "Over to you, Bing ...." Little lines like that so they could cut them together. I also did my part of the music and then Bing came in after I'd left. That was the last singing he had done with an orchestra.

Thursday I spent in Washington, D.C., with my daughter, who was celebrating her birthday. Friday morning I awakened in my bedroom and was kind of half unpacking from the trip. As usual, all the kids who were at home were on the bed with me and everybody was talking up a storm when the phone rang. It was my brother, Nicky, calling from Cincinnati. Miguel picked up the other phone, which started ringing simultaneously. I started to pick up the phone to talk to my brother when Miguel said,"I've got to talk to you."

"Well, just let me talk to Nicky and then I'll talk to you."

"No, Mother, I've got to talk to you first." He looked so somberly serious. "It's really bad. I mean really bad."

I thought something had happened to one of my children and I looked for answers.

"Bing's dead!"

My brother confirmed it. He was calling because he had just picked it up on the wire services at ABC, where he is the anchorman for the evening news in Cincinnati.

After talking to Kathryn I flew up to Hillsborough to spend the night with her. I was struck by the remarkable way she handled the situation. She started calling Bing's friends around the world. I don't think she got any sleep at all that night, because she waited until the time was right in each zone to she wouldn't be waking anybody. It was the kind of consideration wherein she had no consideration at all for her own feelings.

I wanted to cancel my work until after Bing's funeral, but Kathryn said, "No. Don't do that. Go to your work." I think she was right. It was better to keep in motion ....

Bing had strong feelings about some things, but he didn't approach you directly with them. He knew how close my sister, Betty, was to me, but when she died, he never spoke to me directly about it -- but he cared about it, about my feelings. He called Miguel twice and wanted to know from him about it. "Now tell me what happened," he said. "How did it happen? And how is your mother? How is she taking it?"

Bing cared, but he was the kind of man who would never intrude on what he felt was private. He was some kind of gentleman, and I was privileged to have had him as a friend and to have had so many wonderful times with him over the years....

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