Fans, friends remember singer and actress Rosemary Clooney

Monday, July 1, 2002

LOS ANGELES -- Fans, family members and fellow entertainers remembered singer Rosemary Clooney on Sunday for her seemingly effortless singing style, her warm humor and her triumphant comeback from emotional problems and drug abuse.

"For over 50 years she has brightened our lives with the richness of her personality and her voice," Dolores Hope, a fellow singer and wife of entertainer Bob Hope, said in a statement. "Her courage and love have been an inspiration to all who called her friend."

The mellow-voiced singer who co-starred with Bing Crosby in "White Christmas" died Saturday evening at the age of 74 at her Beverly Hills home, with family members at her side. She had been hospitalized earlier in the month for a recurrence of lung cancer.

"Her music was an extraordinary extension of this joyful soul," her longtime friend, singer and pianist Michael Feinstein, told the Los Angeles Times. "She was an earth mother, a heart person, and that quality came through in her music."

Clooney's younger brother, Nick Clooney, an entertainer and former television news anchor in Cincinnati, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he spoke with her Thursday and she had talked enthusiastically about returning to her hometown of Maysville, Ky., for the fourth annual Rosemary Clooney Music Festival in September.

"She was very feisty," Nick Clooney said. His son is actor George Clooney.

Flowers were placed on her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a ceremony Sunday. Notices from fans appeared on Web sites devoted to the singer.

"She was one of America's finest pop vocalists, with a clear, pure voice filled with warmth and sincerity," singer Tony Bennett said in a statement.

"She was a wonderful person."

John Von Ohlen, who had played drums in Clooney's bad since 1982, said she was a consummate professional.

"She was the best to work with. When I started in '82, she was in her best form. Every time I played with her, the music was top notch. You did a show with her and you were all the way there," Von Ohlen told The Enquirer.

Clooney started singing with her younger sister, Betty, on WLW radio in Cincinnati in 1945.

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