May 23, 1928 – June 29, 2002
"No matter how great a man is, the size of his funeral
usually depends on the weather."
Rosemary Clooney was a terrific singer, and had a great
sense of humor, from what I've been able to gather. She also had a friendship with Bing Crosby that I won't
ever be able to figure out. We
don't have to go into the career thing, that's pretty well documented elsewhere.
Rosemary and two of her children were witnesses to Bobby
Kennedy's assassination in the soon to be demolished Ambassador
She claimed that witnessing it sparked a descent into emotional hell
complete with mental breakdown and drug addiction. She also gained a LOT of weight.
A January 2001 reported that her weight was up to 414
pounds. In January 2002, Rosie had
surgery to remove a portion of her left lung because cancer had been found. Three days later, it was announced that she was in "serious"
condition and moved to the intensive care unit at the Mayo Clinic (where Agnes
Moorehead died). In June of that same year, the lung cancer returned. She was hospitalized briefly but sent home. My thought is, she was told there was no hope. There was no public statement about prognosis.
At 5:50 p.m. on the 29th of June 2002, Rosie died
in the bedroom of her Beverly Hills home.
was 74 years old.
Her family was
with her. No doubt the ambulance picked her up in this driveway.
There was a memorial service for her at Good Shepherd
Catholic Church in Beverly Hills, that Brian Wilson, Rosemarie and Frank Sinatra
Afterward, Rosie was
shipped back east to Kentucky for a funeral in her hometown of Maysville. People were lined up as early as 6 a.m. for the funeral mass at St. Patricks
Church in downtown Maysville. 700
people packed the church including Debby Boone who is married to one of
Rosemary's sons, Al Pacino and Beverly D'Angelo, Catherine Crosby and nephew
After the service,
the casket (She had to have 10
pallbearers) was taken to St. Patrick's Cemetery.
Apparently it was so hot, an ambulance followed the procession in case
anyone passed out. Afterwards there was a reception where Michael
Fienstein and George Clooney chatted like a couple of magpies.
The fine folks of Celebrity Collectables made available
Rosie's Last Will and Testament to us, which is a fine document. One quote, "I direct that I be buried near my Father in my Mother's
family plot and that the tombstone marking my grave be in the same
approximate size, style and prominence as my parents' tombstones, without
reference to my career or fame." Just weird that someone actually had to type those words.
Her gifts were a fascinating read: Rosie bequeathed a painting in her death bedroom to Michael
Feinstein, Debby Boone got all of her musical arrangements, her son Gabriel
got her Bing Crosby watch, and someone got a heart-shaped ring given to her by
Nelson Riddle. The claims against
the estate were kind of interesting to read as well.
In April of 2003, her house of over 50 years sold for 7.75
million to some guy in the fashion district. There were plans to demolish the house, but a year later, the house went
back on the market reportedly for 9 million. It's on the market now, and sometimes on Sunday you can go in, when they
have an open house. I went by a few weeks back, and was able to tour
around the property and snap away at leisure. It was great to get a
perspective on the place, after passing the front of it for so many years.
The house is a standard staple on the Stars Homes Tours.
I crashed the place about a year ago with my
buddy Steve (with obligatory
then more recently my old pal Susie from Chicago. Here is the
door, where Sinatra and Crosby no doubt entered many times.
that traveled in and out of this doorway.
The gates have the initials C and S in
them, and I assume the C is Clooney, but don't know what the S is for.
While peeking in the front windows, you can see the very used kitchen,
with the questionable wallpaper.
The window below Rosemary's bedroom was the
living room where you can spot the snazzy hi-fi speakers that were mounted
in the walls.
Out back, there was the
where you could peek in and see
and further back was the very unused
and tennis court
the corpse of a playground.
There was a box of pool supplies
that had a musician's name on it, which I did a little search
Trivia: George Gershwin lived in the same house, long
before Rosemary moved in, as my buddy E.J. Fleming clarifies: George and Ira lived in the house together for a number of years, and in June, 1937 he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and collapsed on the front lawn. He was discovered there by a passer-by; it is unknown how long he lay there. He was conscious, but obviously had a pretty bad headache. After he was hospitalized and it was apparent that he would not live, he was removed from the hospital, but not back to the 1019 Roxbury House. His brother Ira borrowed a house from fellow songwriter Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen at 901 Rexford Drive, where he put George because it was quieter. The house, which has since been demolished, was a huge and secluded mansion on a large lot that was originally owned by Lawrence Tibbetts (it was later rented by Bugsy Siegel when he first came to L.A. in the scene re-created in the movie). George died at the Rexford house on July 11th. Ira wouldn't stay in the 1019 house after his brother died so he moved next door to 1021 Roxbury, where he lived for many years. Also, Harburg wrote much of the music for The Wizard of Oz at the Rexford house, except for "Over the Rainbow," which he wrote while sitting in his car outside of Schwab's Drug Store after getting the inspiration while picking up a
My friend Harry sends this: This bit from www.seeing-stars.com:
Back in Hollywood, the modest family home on Tamarind Avenue was no longer suitable for Russ Columbo's status as a film, radio, and recording personality. Columbo explored what was called the "B" circuit: Beverly Hills, Brentwood, and Bel-Air. He first leased a large, Spanish-style home at 1019 North Roxbury Drive, as far away in feeling from the Tamarind bungalow as one could get. This house has had an amazing musical pedigree. After Columbo, later tenants included composers George and Ira Gershwin and songstress Ginny Simms. In 1953 actor Jose Ferrer and singer Rosemary Clooney, newly married, bought the home, and after their divorce, Clooney retained the property where she lives today.
Big thanks to Betty Effimoff who supplied the
details, Mike Steen for the Death Certificate and Ted from Celebrity Collectables.
Now. The nephew. George Clooney.
George used to work for his aunt Rosie as an assistant/chauffeur. I
remember him telling a story on some talk show about Martha Raye, and found this
story online somewhere: When his aunt was touring as a singer in the New
Four Girls Four with Martha Raye, Kay Starr and Helen O'Connell, he recalls Raye
making him stop so she could, as Clooney says, "just stick out her leg to
take a leak on the side of the road," Clooney laughs, then adds, "Aunt
Rosemary would say, 'Don't turn around, George, or you'll learn too much about
the aging process.'"
Humor me for a moment.
George often brags that he will never marry
and does not like kids. George went out with Kelly Preston. Kelly is now married to John Travolta (okaaay...?), then he
grew a beard. George has been called a "confirmed bachelor." During the Northridge earthquake he was worried about how it would look,
standing nude outside his "bachelor pad" that he shared with college
"buddy" and a
pig named Max. George has been very seriously involved romantically with some foreign model that no one
has ever heard of or cares about. Leonardo DiCaprio has
the same issue. Hm, do you
think? I know he's not afraid to explore his feminine
house is now dead, July 29, 2005