What's New


Concert Recaps


Go To Page:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Watch 4 Girls 4 perform

More Information on
The Girls of 4 Girls 4

About the Author Matt Connor


You're listening to Rosemary Clooney singing I'm Back Babe

Ownership Issues

Some of the tension in the group may have revolved around O’Connell’s desire to jointly own the 4 Girls 4 act with Clooney.

"Basically Helen went to an attorney and had some papers drawn up that said the other two [Whiting and Rose Marie] are gone and what had been a four-part ownership was now owned by Helen and Rosemary," Sviridoff said. "But at that point, it had been reincarnated and Martha Raye was on the tour with us. And we added Kay Starr to it. That was quite a year for us."

Given that 4 Girls 4 was now the legal possession of Rosemary and Helen, did those two stars make out better financially than the women who joined later?

"Oh no. Out of fairness we all agreed – and Helen was voted down on this – that she and Clooney would get no more as owners. Whoever came in got the same share. It was the same setup. It was just that Helen had this thing about ‘owning the act.’"

Soon Raye began appearing less and less with the 4 Girls, and comedienne Kaye Ballard began filling in for her. Attorney Sendroff remembers this transitional time for the group vividly.

"The reason 4 Girls 4 was so special to me was that Kaye was my friend and client at the time and I had always worshipped Rosemary and Helen," Sendroff said. "But I had never gotten to meet them. Kaye called me one time saying, ‘I’m in Chicago filling in for Martha Raye on 4 Girls 4. If you want to meet your idol, get your ass on a plane.’ And I did.

"I got out of bed and took a plane to Chicago and that was where I met Rosemary and got to spend time with all of them when they were playing in Joliet, Illinois. It became very important to all of us, as I went on to become a good friend to Rosemary and her lawyer and co-executor of her estate. That was the beginning. And she encouraged my friendship with Michael Feinstein. So that was all because of 4 Girls 4."

Ballard slipped easily into the group, Sendroff said, because she was already acquainted with each of the women.

"Kaye Ballard knows everybody in show business and has a story about all of them," he said with a laugh. "You cannot believe it. She had relationships with all of those women before. She and Rose Marie were on the Doris Day show. She and Clooney knew each other. She and Helen were both from Ohio and Kaye worked for the Spike Jonze band when Helen sang with the big bands in the 1940s. She knows everybody and everybody loves her and she was a perfect diplomatic choice."

Ballard, reached by telephone while on the road with Nunsense, said that prior to joining 4 Girls 4 she had known Rosemary "since 1950 and she had always been a champ in my eye. She was absolutely an original singer and was just perfect. She was a wonderful person, too. I loved her, I loved working with her. It was a wonderful experience. All I can tell you is, it was a joy working with Rosemary Clooney. I don’t know what else to tell you except that she was wonderful to be with. She was a great, great artist."

She said her tours with the group were "nothing but laughs. All we did was laugh. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience. That’s what I remember about it. It was an easy, wonderful experience. One of the reasons was that we had Frank Ortega there as the conductor. He was just superb. Rosemary loved him. Everybody loved him."

But when the 4 Girls 4 accepted an enviable gig on a Hong Kong cruise, Ballard was unable to substitute for Raye. So Sviridoff called Rose Marie and asked her to rejoin the group.

"It had been a few years since I left," Rose Marie wrote in Hold the Roses, "I told him I didn’t think so – I didn’t want to go through all that jazz again. He promised me that there would be none of that. He’d make sure. The money was great, so I said okay."

Rosemary also remembered this cruise fondly in her book – "ten days of cruising and one day of work," she wrote, and by all accounts the trip was a blast.

"The band was not bad," Rose Marie wrote. "The next night we went on and it was a smash." The group did their two required shows, and Rose Marie was having so much fun she suggested they should do a third, additional show for Valentine’s Day. Clooney begged off, but Starr and O’Connell agreed. The magician Harry Blackstone, who was also appearing on-board, did five minutes of material to fill part of the gap left in Rosemary’s absence. So for the first time, one of the 4 Girls 4 was actually a guy!

Rose Marie continued with the act when it hit dry land, but Rosemary decided to leave 4 Girls 4 after the cruise engagement.

"I enjoyed [the act] so much that in 1983, when Allen [Sviridoff] suggested I go out on my own, I hesitated," she wrote in Girl Singer. "In six years, Four Girls Four had taken me from dreary clubs in the sticks to something resembling my early success with all its luscious perks. True, the show seemed to be diminishing; in theaters where we’d once done a sold-out week, now we played one night to a partial house. But it was still a comfortable, reasonably profitable package. On my own, how much better could I realistically do? I had just one date booked on my own, for $7,500."

"Rosemary and I agreed together that it was a good thing to go away from," Sviridoff said of 4 girls 4 in 1983. "But we had a great, great run with those ladies."

Striking out on their own, Sviridoff said, "was not easy." Rosemary’s early solo engagements consisted of "a lot of pairings. I paired her with a lot of different stars. I took an awful lot of charity work. Charity work always gets you in front of a very loving audience and if you’re successful with that, they tell their theaters that they want you back. It starts a groundswell. When I took over we had one date on the books for Rosemary by herself for the entire first year. We were able to multiply that many-fold."


Go To Page: 1---2---3---4---5---6---7---8---9---10---11---12---13---14 --- NEXT>>>