Actor - director Jose Ferrer "kept running
Now and then, Hollywood shows you an unexpected side of itself, as it did when I started work on the story of Rosemary Clooney. I knew, of course, about the bitter-tongued side of the movie town, where talk about the stars is apt to be spiced with gossip born of jealousy. But I didn't get very far into the Clooney story before I was aware that, amazingly, Hollywood has its soft, protective side too.
In Rosie Clooney's case, it is clear that this is promoted by the fact that she places an instinctive trust in people with whom she works. In return, those people are belligerently ready to protect her.
An informally-banded-together League of Clooney Protectors works itself into a towering rage complaining, "The trouble with Rosie is, she's too nice. The only one she ever hurts is herself. She won't get in there and fight." Edith Head, the head of Paramount's costume design department, told me in irritated tones, "I'm very fond of Rosie, but she's a strange girl. She doesn't bother to battle about anything."
When Rosemary came to Hollywood to make her first screen test, she wore the costumes she'd worn when she sang with orchestras. She was warned that for a test there's nothing more treacherous than a white dress which glitters. It can make you look plump even if you're spring-legged and lantern-jawed. But she is superstitious, and she felt that she sang better when she wore white.
"She looked like a spangled Christmas angel," the woman Paramount executive went on, "and I thought, Well, that's that. She won't get the part. But I was wrong. When the production heads saw her test, her singing was so good they forgot everything else. In a sweet and rather strange way, she gets to you personally, the way a kitten or a baby gets to you. People - even women - feel that they ought to take care of her because she's not mean enough to take care of herself."
Despite the deplorable fact that Rosie is so kind, warmhearted and open that she's theoretically a pushover for rivals, she has crossed up the sourballs by doing mighty well. During late summer and early fall of 1954, Rosemary Clooney accomplished a coup seldom accomplished by anyone in the pop-record field. Week after week, two of her songs stayed up there among the first ten in Variety's weekly listing of titles favored by the public. A Clooney ballad, Hey There!, perched in the No. 1 spot, even ahead of a platter with hissing overtones called Sh-Boom, while her This Old House, a spiritual-turned-jump song, rose and fell, just below Hey, There! on the list.
Hey, There! Is a song from the musical, Pajama Game, and it is cause for special rejoicing in the halls of Columbia Records. This Clooney recording is the first tune taken from a show in many years to top the golden 1,000,000-copy sales mark. By late October, 1954, over 1,200,000 copies had passed across the dealers' counters.
When two songs rendered by one pop singer chase each other around through the upper ten, it's a Tin Pan Alley-jukebox believe-it-or-not. It is even rarer when those two songs are pressed into opposite sides of the same waxing. Ordinarily, buying a disk of a hit song is like arranging a double date - half of the date is apt to be a dud coasting on the allurement of the other.
Last October, Paramount released White Christmas, its Sunday-punch musical for 1954. The studio equipped this film with Irving Berlin numbers, and gave it a massive injection of box-office vitamins in the shape of Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Paramount also expressed its confidence in Rosie Clooney by spotting her opposite Bing and Danny. If anyone had any qualms as to whether she could hold her own in such company, such fears were never mentioned.
One of the most unlikely members of the League of Clooney Protectors is Marlene Dietrich. The word in Hollywood is that Marlene concentrates upon fending for Marlene. If this is true, Rosie is a notable exception to this rule. I met Marlene during one of my interviews with Rosie. She had just returned from a European tour and Rosie asked her to drop in. "A remarkable woman," Rosie told me. "And she's been wonderfully kind to me. When she adopts you, you're really adopted. Marlene takes an interest in everything I do, personal as well as business."
She may have been "wonderfully kind" to Rosie, but it took a lot out of me to pretend nonchalance in the presence of the great Mar-lay-nah. In fact, I didn't come within a country mile of it. She had brought with her a pile of newspaper clippings and recordings of her triumphal tour of Europe, and Rosie and I sat like a couple of goggle-eared kids, listening while she played recorded roars of applause for us, followed by a full repertoire of her favorite songs in her deep, sexy gargle. She stood before us, her feet apart, her hands thrust deep into the pockets of her dress. She was even more entranced with her recordings than we were.
She looked like a bosomy sailor, but she didn't smell like a sailor - if sailors smell like oakum, red lead and rust chippings. A heady perfume moved with her wherever she moved. She didn't sit like a sailor either. Grandmother or not grandmother, when Dietrich sits, she's sheer, slithering femininity draping itself over a chair or a divan.
After we'd listened to her recordings, Marlene went into a nearby room with me, where we could be alone and she could help me with my assignment by telling me wise things about Rosie.
"She has a szunzhiny quality," she said. "She is full of easy, effortless life. That's what szunzhiny is. So many people make an effort to impress people. Rosie never does. She doesn't make an effort even when she's on the screen. We met when we were doing a show with Tallulah. Rosie was singing a song and I was singing a song. Afterward, we sat together on the stage and she told me she was going to Hollywood, and I told her whom to see. I gave her names, so that she would not be lost when she got there. But she is not careful, even now. Once I watched her recording a song. Her hair was this way and that way. She had no lipstick. I gave her mine and said, 'Use this.' "Why?" she asked impatiently. 'I'm working.' I said, 'There are photographers around. Lens, see? Later on, when you see the pictures, you will say, "Oh, how awful I looked!"'"
Marlene gathered up her clippings and recordings and departed, and Rosie told me about a thing which had happened during the making of her second movie, Red Garters. "I was fluffing my lines and wasting film trying to deliver a long speech fast. All the cues were 'Yes, but----and 'I mean-----' Interruptions that had to come in, but didn't mean anything. Marlene was on the set that day. She watched me for a while; then she went up to the director, George Marshall, and said, 'Let me take Rosie for a walk.'
"'Don't wait for those ridiculous cues,' she told me, when we were outside. 'You'll get nothing from them. Learn the whole speech; then ride right over the person you're talking to.' She ran through the scene with me a couple of times, and when I went back I was all right. I made sense."
It is impossible to talk intelligently about Rosemary Clooney without first talking to Mitch Miller. According to a statement issued by the company to which Miller hired his talents and brain, he is a bearded oboist who has grown famous in what you might expect to be a pretty obscure line of work. As the mastermind of the pop department of Columbia Records, he picks the songs, the singers, the bands and the arrangements to be recorded. This results in his being pursued by musical types who are promoting bills of goods.
In self-defense he has developed extraordinary powers of remaining unimpressed. Some song pluggers consider him the most unimpressed man in history.
Rosie told me, "When I first met Mitch, he was with Mercury Records. It was right after he'd had his success with Frankie Laine and Mule Train. He was also responsible for the Patti Page recordings. His first words to me were, 'I like your recording of Grievin' for You. Nice sounds.'"
This was not only flattering, it was potential money in the bank. Mitch was rapidly becoming one of the important folks in recording. Shortly after Rosie's first meeting with him, he was signed by Columbia. He looked over the contract Rosie had had for some time with his new employers, and told her, 'We'd better have a new one drawn up, or I won't be able to get any work out of you."
Asked about this later, Rosie told me, "There would have been no trouble about the work; I was too anxious to please, but Mitch's attitude gave me faith in him even before we started working together."
The quality of this faith was quickly strained when Mitch had trouble persuading her to make a recording of Come-on-a My House. This song with the double-talk title was a highly spiced, semi-Armenian number which had been written by William Saroyan and his cousin, Ross Bagdasarian, to pass the time of day while they spelled each other at the wheel during a transcontinental auto ride.
About six months ago, Rosie's manager, Joe Schribman, had a telephone call from a stranger. The unknown at the other end of the wire told him that he had heard a woman on a television show say that she was the author of a song Rosemary Clooney had recorded, and the song had sold a million copies. The stranger had never heard of the song and wanted to check the statement. That was easy. The song was Rose of the Mountain. It had sold a million copies. It was on the other side of Come-on-a My House.
When I visited Mitch Miller in his New York office, he told me, "I was alerted by Rosie's voice in Grievin' for You right away. It had depth and heart. I thought it was great, and I told her so. Since I've been with Columbia, she's been working with me and she's loyal. Loyalty is what counts with me. She was full of fun and she loved life when we started together. The disk jockeys were all crazy about her. There may have been a special one here and there she liked best, but she's married now, so why bring that up?"
He paced the office space like a slightly lopsided lion as he talked. "You seen her films?" he asked. I nodded. "They stink," he announced. "Not a hit song in any of them. They don't know what to do with her out there. You know why they're no hit songs from her pictures? The disk jockeys cooled on her. When she was working back here she was always in the studio of some D.J. or other, giving him an interview or helping him plug. They knew what she was doing and where she was, so they mentioned her name and spun her disks. Next thing they know, she's in Vegas and she's got a Hollywood contract. Then she married this Jose Ferrer, and suddenly she's with the books. She's got culture and she's got him." He said darkly, "If she loses him, she's gonna ask, 'What did I do wrong? I read the books, didn't I?'
"Being married to Paramount and to Ferrer, she forgot her D.J. pals. She's not prancing into their studios and saying, 'Hi, Bo, what's to eat?' any more. They don't hear from her. They get no little tips from her they can use. When her studio brings her to New York she's big stuff. They invite a few D.J's, not all, to an elegant cocktail party, but nobody can do anything until Rosie comes. The lights gotta be right. The talk's gotta be right. The D.J's hated it, and they hated her. So they stopped playing her music.
"The next time I was in California she asked me, 'What happened?'" Miller went on, "I told her. Now it's different. The D.J's hear from her. She keeps in touch. Some of them are still sore because half of them were in love with her, but you're hearing Clooney records on the air again, and with this White Christmas picture coming up - that's gotta be good - she'll be right on top."
"Someone sent me a pile of her records," I told him. "Among them was one she made with Dietrich. I'd never heard of it. How did that one happen to be done?"
He yanked at his beard fiercely. "You live in the country or something? The Dietrich record was my idea. And it was a hit. I wanted to establish a comparison between a hillbilly-type dame and a sophisticated-type woman of the world." Out loud I wondered how I could describe her voice.
"She sings anything, high or low," he said. "Great talent. Female Bing Crosby. Does it in one take." Then he went back to his favorite theme. "But they are going to ruin her out there. Why don't they ask somebody who knows what she can sing and what she can do?"
Later, in Beverly Hills, I told Rosie about my interview with Miller. "Mitch doesn't actually disapprove of my marriage," she said. "He's very fair about it. He just thinks I should be dedicated to my work, and to Mitch."
Rosemary and Betty Clooney started as a sister singing team when they were eight and five. That was eighteen years ago for Rosie, who was born in Maysville, Kentucky, in 1928. The sisters remember singing, as small but earnest vote-getters, from a decorated truck when their Grandfather Clooney was running for mayor of that city.
Asked about their childhood, they are quick to tell you, "Our parents separated when we were very young. They both married again, and although they came to visit us often, we did our growing up with our grandparents."
Grandfather Clooney was elected mayor of Maysville, and to Rosie, Grandmother Clooney was always a 'truly Southern belle." She knew all the feminine things - perfume, music, how to paint a tray or a square of canvas with violets or roses, and to crochet. She could also grapple with a budget until it begged her for mercy. "Grandfather gave her a dollar a day on which to run the house, and she ran it. She was just born to please a man and she made us a wonderful home."
When Rosie was eleven, Grandmother Clooney died. After that Betty and Rosie went to Cincinnati to live with their Guilfoyle grandparents. What with the Guilfoyles and the Clooneys all packed into the same house, it was crowded, but they loved one another dearly, and Rosie still remembers it as good living.
She went to schools there; four different ones - Withrow, Hughes, Western Hills, and, after she and Betty had started to sing on radio, to Our Lady of Mercy Academy. Our Lady of Mercy Academy was near the radio station, and since they were dismissed at two-thirty, it was no trick to be at work at three.
They did their first professional work with Radio Station WLW, Cincinnati, where they sang with an orchestra featured on a program called the Midwetern Hayride. The orchestra was hillbilly; the experience was good training. "You can't mish-mush your words in those songs," Rosie said. "You've got to tell the story and be convincing, even in the yodels."
Mr. Opportunity brushed their lives about that time. "Brushed" is the word for it. Years later, I asked Mr. Opportunity about it in his dressing room. "Rosie is a great girl," Bob Hope said. "Fresh - like a breeze. Got that soap - and - water look. We've had a lot of fun working together. Yes, sir. Great girl, Rosie. She auditioned for me once."
Bob Hope is wrong about that audition. When the Clooneys heard that Bob Hope and his entourage were flying into town on a personal-appearance tour, the girls made up their minds to audition for him, come what may. Bob's brother, Jack, went ahead of him to cities where he was going to do a show and ran a contest among the local girls, winner to appear on Bob's program. It was no secret that she must not only be able to sing; she must be pretty.
Rosie was sixteen and Betty thirteen. With their stuck-out Clooney jaws and their faces that were interesting rather than candy-boxy, they'd concentrated on working with their voices, had aimed at no beauty contests. Also, since only one girl would be chosen, a sister team seemed out of the picture.
After long conferences, Betty suggested, "Why don't we split up and do a solo piece?" Rosie stalked Jack Hope in a hall in the radio building as he was entering an elevator, "Mr. Hope," she said, "my sister and I have always sung together, but for your contest we wondered if we could audition separately?" "He hadn't seen Betty," Rosie told me, "but he took one look at me and said, 'Honey, you'll get a lot further in a sister act than you will alone.' Then his elevator went down."
A year or two later they did audition. This time it was for an agent who arranged for them to sing for Charlie Trotter, Tony Pastor's road manager. Pastor, whose name is an old and honored one in show biz, had won honors himself as the leader and name plate of a popular band. Rosie and Betty had no piano for their Trotter audition - or any other musical accompaniment, for that matter - but that didn't stump them. There had never been a piano at home, either. They just stood up and sang.
Trotter liked them, and at fifteen and eighteen Betty and Rosie hit the road - with their Uncle George Guilfoyle for their chaperon. George had just finished his stint in the Army and was so nearly their own age that the girls didn't bother to call him "Uncle." It was an unorthodox setup, but Grandma Guilfoyle was not going to have her granddaughters sashaying around with a band unchaperoned, no matter if the chaperon was pretty young for the job and of the opposite sex.
They opened with Pastor at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City. "It was rough when we hit the road with Tony," Betty Clooney told me, when I saw her in New York, where she was appearing at the Wedgwood Room at The Waldorf. (Betty has also become a big name in radio and television.) "At that time," she went on, "name bands traveled over the country, making one-night stands, playing for college proms, subscription dances, concerts. A chartered bus was our home. When we finished a date and crawled into the bus for the next hop, Rosie put her head on my shoulder, or vice versa, and that was our beauty rest to the next stop."
The sisters' salaries totaled two hundred and fifty a week, before taxes and agents' fees. Then, too, their chaperon, Uncle George, had to live. But they always sent some money home. Rosie and Betty knew that if they didn't help out, there wouldn't be any home for them to go back to, and it was important for them to have such a refuge.
Betty quit the road first. She was just plain exhausted and homesick. "I didn't blame her," Rosemary said. "After all, I'd finished high school, but she'd been out there in a fancy dress, singing in front of a band for three years, while other kids her age were having the normal kind of fun." Rosie stuck it out for two more weeks, then went home too. "To catch my breath."
When she caught her breath, Joe Schribman, who is also Tony Pastor's New York representative, asked her if she'd like to come to the big city and try a little recording on her own. Schribman had managed a "Let's see what she's got," contract for her with Columbia Records. She collected only fifty dollars a side for each pressing, but she was happy. Although she made practically nothing per record, there was always a chance that one of the records would Make her.
"Tony Pastor played for the first two recordings Rosie made, because she was so nervous and because he's such a good guy," Schribman said. "He didn't even ask for his name on the label. It just read, 'Rosemary Clooney with orchestra.'"
But since she had to eat and keep shelter over her head, Schribman had her doing many other things too. Evenings she sang on TV shows, radio programs and in nightclubs. "Saloons, Rosie called them," Schribman commented dryly. Five days a week she was heard on Arthur Godfrey's morning program. Each day Schribman outlined her chores. She never asked, "What happens next week?" or "What gives after that?" She found if she started a day and only knew what she had to do that day, she could finish it. "It's that long-range planning that wears people out," she said.
Among the first places she worked was a spot called the Click, in Philadelphia. Big Shootin' Moore, an Indian trombone player, and his Dixieland combo were behind her. There were five boys in Big Shootin' Moore's band and the stand itself was no larger than a five-by-five table. Rosie is long-legged, deep-bosomed and broad-shouldered, but she managed to squeeze onto the platform with them.
"By that time I was very big with the special musical arrangements," she said. "The first time I handed them out to the combo, they studied them curiously, put them down and asked me, 'How's it go?' They didn't need music. All I had to do was sing it for them, and they were off!"
Rosie had made a recording of a song called The Kid's a Dreamer, and it was popular in and around Philadelphia at that time. It had been written by Doug Arthur, a Philadelphia disk jockey, and he hadn't been shy about promoting it. "The recording business is strange," Rosie said. "You can be a 'name' in one city, and a hundred miles away they've never heard of you."
The hotbeds of record selling are Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis and Cincinnati. Disc jockeys in those places come close to making or breaking the sale of a record. To a singer, this is absorbingly interesting because when one of his recordings becomes popular in a certain town, he can work steadily in the hotels and nightclubs of that locality for a year or two.
My favorite recordings are the ones I've made of children's songs," Rosie told me. She is convinced that these songs get the only honest approach given by the recording industry. In most love songs, on the other hand, gimmicks are employed as well as a heavy sugaring of schmaltz. For her first hit record, for example, Rosie used a harpsichord and dialect. Another dodge which is effectively used is the multiple-voice trick with the vocalist wearing earphones and recording his own voice again and again on the same disk.
Rosie sings a song as nearly the way it was written as anyone who sings today, but for her children's records she uses an even more "sincere" approach.
"The arrangements can be cute," she said, "but your diction has to be perfect. Kids have to understand every single word, because you're telling them a story and they insist on hearing it. Never sing down to children. If you do, they recognize it and can't stand it. When I started making kid records, I was up against another thing I'd never heard of. Children won't buy most women's voices. 'Why not?' I asked. I was told, 'Because mothers are around the house every day, and discipline comes from mothers. Sing it like you're a man with a feminine voice. They like men.'"
Hecky Krasnow, who heads the Children's and Educational Department at Columbia Records, informed me, "Rosemary has recorded a total of thirty-seven sides for youngsters. Her top best-seller to date, in the children's field, has been Suzy Snowflake, which has sold over two hundred and fifty thousand. Almost everything she has recorded on the Children's label has sold extremely well, and many have become standards, selling month in and month out. Total sales of all her children's records are substantially over a million."
As almost everyone who can read knows, Rosie is married to the actor-producer, Jose Ferrer. I had seen him on the screen as the long-nosed, heart-breaking Cyrano; the dwarfed Toulouse-Lautrec; the word-biting lawyer in the Caine Mutiny. But when he walked into his living room to meet me, he was none of these. Instead, he was just a quiet, pleasant guy who had been routed out of bed on a Sunday morning to be nice to someone he didn't know.
Together we had coffee and watched the National Championship tennis matches at Forest Hills on TV. Jose is fond of the game himself, but he told me, "Rosie won't play with me. She took a few lessons, then said, 'I can't seem to care about the immediate future of a tennis ball.' She won't dance, either, but that I can understand. She saw too many people making monkeys of themselves on dance floors when she sang with Tony Pastor's band. And she won't swim with me."
(Rosie told me later, "I told Joe I didn't swim very well. The truth is, I can't swim at all and I'm afraid he'll catch me in a lie!")
Answering some of my questions, Jose said, "My family comes from Puerto Rico. Ferrer is a Catalonian name, so widespread that it's the equivalent of your 'Smith.' I went to Princeton when I was sixteen and flunked out. I had never been away from home before. I drank and ran up bills. I did all the things a kid does, only I did them bigger. Starting all over again, I graduated with the class of '35."
Rosie and Jose met when he was making public appearances for the movie version of Cyrano in the fall of 1950. After that he ran into her at two or three benefits they did together. "I just kept running into her," he told me. "I wasn't free to marry then, but when we fell in love, we didn't dick around corners and hide. We were open and aboveboard about the way we felt about each other. It isn't that I'm more honest than anybody else. I've learned that lying is impracticable. Also, it's a waste of time and you look like an idiot when you're caught."
In far-away Forest Hills, Vic Seixas served an ace. This reminded Jose of something. He told me, "I was staggered when I saw Rosie in her first film. In fact, I was almost angry because I thought a girl who had never acted before had no business being that good the first time out. I honestly think she has outstanding interpretive talent. People who sing truly well and not manneristically have to be good actors, because singing is a form of acting. It was no surprise to me that Frank Sinatra was great in From Here to Eternity. It's acting without notes. And wait until you see Bing Crosby in Country Girl! This is not gallantry on my part, I am not a diplomat."
To date, Rosemary has mad three Hollywood films. Irving Asher, who produced her first one, told me that Rosie's greatest quality is her naturalness. "I always call her Miss Crosby," Asher said, "because her manner is like Bing's. She has an offhand way. If anyone ever teaches her to act, they'll do her a great disservice. I'd like to see her in a dramatic role," he went on. "Rosie has a wonderfully expressive face. But it ought to be let alone and not glamorized to try to make her look like everyone else. Just photograph it the way it is."
Rosie once worked a date in Reno, and Asher heard that the management said it never wanted her back again. This bothered him because he was making a picture with her, so he checked the story. "What do you mean, you don't want her back again?" he asked. "Nobody plays the gaming machines when she sings," he was told. "So naturally we don't want her back. We lose money."
In the last three or four years Rosie has worked with almost every big name in radio and television - Martin and Lewis, Red Skelton, Ed Sullivan (she emceed his Christmas show in 1952), Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
One of the high points of her life was her meeting with Bing. She had just come to work at Paramount. She knew that he was there, working on the Road to Bali, and she figured, "If I just wandered around, I might run into him; I might even watch him work."
She was walking with Milton Lewis when she saw Bing riding a bicycle their way. "Bing, this is Rosemary Clooney," Milton said. "Hi, glad to see you," Bing said. "Like the way you sing." Rosie told me, "I just stood there trying to get some air into my lungs. It was if I'd been introduced to an institution. "Understand you're going to be working on our radio show," Bing said. Rosie came through brightly, "Oh, yes; sometime in the twenties." It was the fall of '52. "I mean later in the month," she explained. Bing's eyebrows went up, but he kept on trying. "Who's doing the score for your picture?" he asked. "Evingston and Livings," Rosie babbled, mixing the names of the song writers Livingston and Evans until any similarity with reality was purely coincidental. "Well, nice to see you," Bing said, and rode away. "He looked back over his shoulder," Rosie told me, "and I could just hear him thinking, 'Creep!'"
A few days later, she found herself face to face with him again. This time her hands clenched into fists, her jaw stuck out and she said, without any preliminaries, "I want to explain what happened the other day. I'm not a numskull. I was terribly thrilled meeting you, that's - all! I hope you understand and I hope I see you around sometime!" Then she turned and stamped off. Since then, their friendship has been a warm one.
"When I sing with Bing," Rosie said, "I sing one hundred per cent better because I sing up to him. I never have to look at a piece of music to know what he's going to do - or how he'll phrase. It's a strangely close communion. Believe me, it's an experience you can't explain!" I believed her.
One of Rosie's best friends in Hollywood is a dainty, big-eyed girl named Bea Allen. "Bea has been my dance coach since the beginning," Rosie said. "She stays beside the camera when I'm working, and if I do something a shade wrong, a shadow crosses her face. Often when I see that shadow, I deliberately make a mistake, so the director will say, 'Cut' and I can start all over again. Bea's a perfectionist. She's conscious of my hands and whether I'm making an awkward angle with my foot, and we are apt to have big arguments as to whether I've footed it through a scene to my best advantage. I can't take it that seriously. If you're a perfectionist, your life is sheer hell. I feel the same way about my career and I'm happier because of it. Being that way makes me more relaxed than the people who fight for their rights all the time."
"I can fight too." (League of Clooney Protectors, please note.) "I like most people and get along with almost everybody, but I don't like to be taken for a chump and have my intelligence belittled. Once I had a feud with a young man who decided to upstage me in every scene. He kept moving around until he had my back to the camera. What does he take me for? I thought. Does he think I'm so stupid I don't know what he's doing? His next trick was to put his hand on my shoulder and pull me off balance. Both of those tricks went out with East Lynne. When I told Joe about it, he said, 'The next time he gets you off balance, make it big. Fall down flat.'"
"I settled it my own way. 'Listen, you no-talent jerk,' I said to him, 'if this is the only way you can make a name for yourself, I suggest you have them make all the shots close-ups of you. Obviously this will be your only bid for fame, and if you need it that bad, kid, you'd better make it.'"
"I hate to sound off like that," Rosie said. "If I'm upset about something someone has said or done, I try to say nothing until I've cooled down. I walk the dogs and tell them my troubles, or take a shower, and the air in the shower stall is blue for a while. I stay there until I get it out of my system; then I'm fine. It may be an effort not to tell people off, but it's even a bigger effort to be a jerk. Think of all the trouble you have to go to to develop a lousy personality!"
Like anyone in the public eye, Rosie has had her share of adverse criticism. One morning not long ago, she was having breakfast with Joe. Seated across the table from each other, they were reading the papers. Jose had one of the Hollywood trade dailies in which Rosie knew there was a review of White Christmas. "What does it say?" she asked.
He shook his head and gave it to her. When she read it, the words hurt her eyes: "While Miss Clooney is an attractive girl, she doesn't have the photographic glamour to carry a love story."
"If I'd been alone," Rosie told me, "I'd have thought, O.K., so I'm not glamorous enough. Maybe I'd better pay more attention to what Marlene tells me. Maybe I ought to do something with my hair. But sitting across from my husband, I wanted to think I was the most glamorous, the most beautiful woman in the world, and there I was, a little pregnant and feeling thick and clumsy, so that crack in the trade daily rocked me. I was sick with shame."
"Joe looked at me and said, 'I wish somebody would tell me how you got into this condition if you're not glamorous enough to provoke some sort of love affair!' We both laughed uproariously and I was all right.
"I made a mistake when I came out here to Hollywood," she mused. "Interviewers asked, 'Do you think you're pretty or attractive?' I'd squirm and say, 'Nope, not very.' The truth is, I didn't really think I was that bad. After all, I could have got a few testimonials, but I went overboard in the other direction, and everybody began to believe it! I'm using other tactics now. If anyone says, 'You're a doll!' by golly, I agree with them!"