Star Clooney was very down-to-earth when among her neighbors in Augusta

By SCOTT WARTMAN, Maysville's Ledger - Independent
July 2, 2002

AUGUSTA – While Rosemary Clooney lived at her home on Riverside Drive in Augusta only a few days out of the year, many residents remember her as a prominent part of the town.

Augusta residents expressed shock and dismay at the news of her death on Saturday evening.

“I didn’t think she was that bad off,” said Lloyd Baker.

Baker said he remembers Clooney performing with her sisters on the streets of Maysville in the 1940s.

“When I was a kid, you sat and listened to anyone that entertained on the street,” Baker said. “She could sing.”

Clooney left her mark on the historic Kentucky town, said Mae Antrobus. Every time Clooney visited, Antrobus said people would flock to the town.

“She helped put Augusta on the map and made a big impression,” Antrobus said. “You would know when she was here, because everybody would be talking about it.

Clooney’s celebrity never distanced her from the community, Antrobus said. She remembers seeing Clooney walking down the street several times a year and greeting people that walked by. Clooney was very personable and down to earth, Antrobus said.

“When you saw her come by, it just made you feel good,” Antrobus said.

When staying in town, Clooney would frequently dine at the Beehive Tavern, the riverside restaurant just a block from her house. The tavern has been a common haunt for the Clooney family for years, said owner Sean Moral. Moral said he became a close friend of Clooney and overcoming her death will be hard. Moral emigrated from Cuba in 1962, and said he had been a fan of Clooney’s before he met her.

“ ‘White Christmas’ was the movie to watch when I was growing up,” Moral said. “I never thought Rosemary would touch my life the way she had.”

Moral said he will miss Clooney’s sense of humor most of all. One of the more memorable occasions of her sense of humor was a time when she called the Beehive Tavern to make reservations, Moral said.

Over the phone, Moral said Clooney asked, “Do you know who this is?” Moral said he replied ‘no’ to which Clooney responded “Let me see if I can make it easier” and then started into a song.

“Not too many people can say they have had Rosemary Cloo-ney sing to them over the phone,” he said.

One of Moral’s favorite memories of Clooney was when her family held a surprise party for him. Clooney made a salad from a recipe given to her by Bob Hope’s wife, Dolores Hope. It was one of the best salads he ever ate, he said.

“She said you cook for us all the time, so we should cook for you,” Moral said. “It was amazing. I have never been able to duplicate the salad.”

While Clooney was a great singer, Moral said her humor and personality were even more dazzling.

“She was so kind and funny,” he said. “She had a wonderful wit.”