"Recalling a brush with the late Rosemary Clooney"
JOE HALBERSTEIN, Bucks County Courier Time, July 5, 2002
Many people may not know that, in the early 1950s, the Clooney family lived in nearby Wilmington, Del. That was when my path crossed with Rosemary's in an odd fashion.
Singer Rosemary Clooney passed away this week. Most people are familiar with her career. Most people know her brother and sister also were talented. Most people know her brother Nick's son, George Clooney, is a top star today in television and Hollywood.
Yet many people may not know that, in the early 1950s, the Clooney family lived in nearby Wilmington, Del. That was when my path crossed with Rosemary's in an odd fashion.
I was sports editor for the Sunday Star in Wilmington. One day in 1953, the telephone rang. The voice said, "Hold for Earl Wilson."
The columnist for the New York Post came on the phone. We had met a few years previously. He grew up in Rockford, Ohio, and made his way to fame in the Big Apple as a gossip columnist. I sought a job in New York City in 1950. He arranged an interview with the Post. We Ohio boys have to stick together, you know.
Wilson said he needed a favor. He was getting reports that Rosemary Clooney was going to marry actor Jose Ferrer, and he wanted verification.
He said Rosemary's mother managed a dress shop on Wilmington's main street. He asked me to go to the store and ask the mother if the report had any truth to it.
I checked around. I learned Nick Clooney had become a disk jockey at WDEL Radio in Wilmington. I learned both Rosemary and her sister, Betty, visited their mother frequently. (Betty later married bandleader Pupi Campo.)
The advertising manager of the Sunday Star told me where to find Clooney's mother. I went to the store. When I walked in, I recognized Betty Clooney immediately. Her face was almost as familiar as her sister's in those days.
The mother came to meet me. I identified myself and explained my mission. Earl Wilson was getting reports that Rosemary was going to marry Ferrer.
I'll never forget her answer. She was indignant.
"Young man," she said, "no daughter of mine is going to marry a man she has not brought home to meet her mother. I have never met Mr. Ferrer. That is your answer."
I called Wilson and told him what Clooney's mother had said. Wilson printed it that way. It made a great paragraph in his column a couple of days later.
Wilson thanked me in a note in which his signature was a hand-drawn picture of his face drawn in a way that spelled out Earl.
And how accurate was Mrs. Clooney's prediction? In less than two weeks, American newspapers were filled with stories about Rosemary's elopement with Ferrer.
What a reminder that mothers don't always know first or best when it comes to their daughters.
Retired editor Joe Halberstein's column appears Monday and Thursday.