George Clooney Family History
George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6th, 1961 to Nick and Nina Clooney in Lexington, Kentucky. George grew up in Kentucky, although not in the small town of Maysville where earlier Clooneys had settled back in the 1850’s. He attended Northern Kentucky University, but did not graduate.
Instead he found work in TV dramas. His breakthrough came when he played Dr. Doug Ross on the hit NBC medical drama ER which ran from 1994 to 1999. He was able to transfer his TV success to the movies with the release of Ocean’s Eleven in 2001. From that time on he has been one of Hollywood’s mega-stars.
From Kilkenny to Kentucky
George’s great great grandfather Nicholas Clooney was born in Kilkenny, Ireland around the year 1828. He came to America in 1855 and settled in Maysville, a small town on the Ohio river in Mason county, Kentucky. He met and married Bridget Byron there in 1862 (both had fled from the potato famine in Ireland) and they had seven children together.
The most ambitious of these – Andrew – opened a watchmaker and jewelry business on Maysville’s Market Street, with his home upstairs. He later involved himself in politics, starting up a local newspaper and being twice elected the Democrat mayor of Maysville in the 1930’s. His politics was very much New Deal.
Andrew’s son Andrew Jr. joined his father in the jewelry business. In 1927 he married Marie Guilfoyle and they had five children – two elder sisters Rosemary and Betty and three younger siblings. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a happy or stable home. Andrew by then was working as a house painter and had a drinking problem. The Clooney children were bounced around between the homes of family members, often ending up with their grandparents. Marie divorced Andrew in 1938, left for California, and the children split.
Rosemary’s Success and Heartaches
In 1945, while living with their grandfather in Ohio, Rosemary and her younger sister Betty began singing duets on the radio. The Clooney Sisters, as they became known, soon caught the attention of a bandleader and the sisters toured with his band for several years. In 1949 Rosemary moved to New York to embark on a solo singing career. She signed up with Columbia Records and success came quickly. Her popularity landed her on the cover of Time magazine in 1953. In addition to her record success, she was also to be seen on TV and in the movies in the 1950’s.
Then came the heartaches. In 1953 she had married the actor Jose Ferrer. But the marriage was stormy. The couple divorced, remarried, and divorced again in 1967. A mental breakdown followed and she became increasingly dependent on tranquilizers and sleeping pills. Then her sister Betty died suddenly of a brain aneurysin in 1976. She survived this traumatic period and lived onto 2002.
Her home for much of her life was Los Angeles, but she did acquire a place near Maysville later on.
The Courier-Journal reported the following on July 6, 2002.
“This picturesque northern Kentucky town of 8,900 said an emotional farewell yesterday to its most celebrated native, the actress and singer Rosemary Clooney. Clooney, 74, died on June 29 in Los Angeles where she had been hospitalized following a recurrence of lung cancer.
In a solemn, hourlong funeral Mass at St. Patrick’s Church – where Clooney was baptized and first took communion – candles flickered in the pulpit yesterday among bouquets of lilacs, violets, daisies, irises, carnations and roses of all colors. A simple coffin sat before the altar.
The Rev. William Hinds addressed the 800 mourners, which included Clooney’s five children, ten grandchildren, friends and several Hollywood notables, and Clooney’s nephew George Clooney. ‘Rosemary, you’re back here again in St. Patrick’s, where as a school child you came to pray and 4 1/2 years ago, you came for confession about the things you had done and shouldn’t have done in life.’ Clooney was buried in the church cemetery near her mother and grandmother.
Nick Clooney, the radio personality and columnist for the Kentucky Post, shared his thoughts of his sister with the mourners yesterday. ‘Fifteen years ago, Rosemary and I agreed that whichever of us went first, the other one would say a few words at their funeral,’ — then, holding up a pocket watch added, ‘no more than three minutes by Papa Clooney’s watch.'”
And Brother Nick
Brother Nick also had a spell in California, but – unlike Rosemary – returned to Kentucky where he embarked on a broadcasting career. He married Nina Warren in 1959 and they had two children, George and Ada.
He worked for eight years at WKYT-TV in Lexington, Kentucky before moving to Ohio in 1966 to host The Nick Clooney Show, a morning show with a variety and talk-show format. He had a long association with WKRC-YV in Cincinnati, but also over his career worked at other TV stations around the country. He harbored political ambitions for a while. In 2008 he joined the University School of Communication faculty at the American University in Washington DC.
George Clooney’s Family Tree
- Nicholas Clooney (1828-1893) from Ireland m. Bridget Byron (1835-1914) in Kentucky in 1862
- – William Clooney (1866-1953) m. Amy Farr
- – Mary (Mayme) Clooney (1868-1937)
- – Andrew Clooney (1874-1947)
- – Margaret Clooney (1876-1957) m. John O’Mahoney
- Andrew Clooney m. Crescentia (Cynthia) Koch (1874-1939) in Kentucky in 1899
- – Olivette (Clara) Clooney (1900-1961) m. Miles Rolph
- – Andrew Clooney (1902-1974)
- Andrew Clooney m. Marie Guilfoyle (1904-1972) in Kentucky in 1927 (divorced in 1938)
- – Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002) m. Jose Ferrer
- – Elizabeth (Betty) Clooney (1931-1976) m. Pupi Campo
- – Nicholas (Nick) Clooney (b. 1934)
- Nick Clooney m. Nina Warren (b. 1939) in Kentucky in 1959
- – Adelia (Ada) Clooney m. Norman Zeidler in 1987
- – George Clooney (b. 1961) m. Talia Balsam in 1989; rem. Anal Alamuddin in 2014
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