Rosemary Clooney home again

The Cincinnati Post - 08-07-97

The queen of Maysville, Rosemary Clooney, is back in town. Pop-singer extraordinaire and one of the great stars of cabaret, Ms. Clooney headlines Sunday's ''Queen City Crown Jewels of Jazz'' show.

With 52 years in show business, Ms. Clooney has sung at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, on the big screen and the small. In recent years, she's topped the jazz charts and headlined at New York's Rainbow and Stars.

Here are some of her thoughts on her career and family:

On her early days in show business:

''You had to be young to survive. I could curl on top of a lumpy old suitcase and be asleep before the old-man trombone player (he was 30) had started snoring. Oh, how I wish I could go to sleep like that now.''

On her early career:

''Singing was always an important part of my life, but I never really appreciated the pleasure I get from it. I think I did in the early days - in the times when I first started in Cincinnati on WLW. Certainly I loved it then; but, as I got into it more and became more and more successful, the responsibilities grew. And then, with my children being born, there was always a tug in both directions....

On her first hit ''Come On-A My House'':

''People still ask me to sing that terrible thing. I can usually squirm out of it. But it gets worse. People ask me to sing "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window?' which wasn't even my song. It was Patti Page's. I just hope she gets asked plenty of times to sing "Come On-A My House.' ''

On her marriage to Jose Ferrer:

''He was a fine actor, a wonderful father... and an OK husband sometimes.''

On her return to show business:

''It was starting all over, and I think that's when I could build that thing again of loving the music and having fun doing it. With all my children married.... I'm able once again to do it without the tug of responsibility.... There's a freedom in my life that is very like the beginning feeling.''

On her nephew, George Clooney, star of ''ER'' and ''Batman and Robin'':

''He was always a determined boy. In a household with a lot of great kids around, he would get on a chair to get attention. He worked hard, he always had a way of getting around you, and he was cute. Cute, right from the beginning.''

On returning to Greater Cincinnati:

''Nobody's got my phone number. And the people are so wonderful. At tomato-time, I'll have a little box of tomatoes on my front porch from somebody.... I'll also see my baby brother (Post columnist Nick Clooney) It isn't quite as much fun to go home and not be able to see him, you know.

Rosemary Clooney performs Sunday at 6 p.m. in a free Queen City Crown Jewels of Jazz concert at Ault Park. Also appearing: the Blue Wisp Big Band and Cal Collins and Friends. The show is part of ''The 'Hood Is Bigger Than You Think'' 1997 summer tour.