4th Annual Rosemary Clooney Music Festival
September 28, 2002
(photos/details/articles will be added as they come in - check back often for updates - scroll down for additions)

Website Recap

Nick's Column 10/2

Nick's Column 10/4

*Nick's Column 10/7*


EXTRA Article/Video

Maysville's Newspaper

Lexington Newspaper

Augusta Carillon Ceremony - September 29, 2002

The Clooney family is presented with a replica of the CLOONEY HIGHWAY sign which will now designate a portion
 of Kentucky 10 between Maysville and Augusta. (l-r: George, Miguel, Dante and Nick)

Obviously, this year's festival had a different feel than previous festivals, but I think it was one that would have met with Rosemary's approval. There were moments of celebration, tribute, humor and appreciation. There was that same warm feeling of previous years, and I'm not talking about the weather.....though we do now refer to warm, glorious Saturdays in late September as having "Rosemary weather."

While Rosemary's presence, her voice, her stories, her song, and her collective hug she managed to give the whole town from the stage were sorely missed, the evening offered many special moments. The highlight being, her son Miguel and her husband Dante's participation, for they helped to bring Rosemary's heavenly presence a little closer to home. Her brother Nick, who is the constant of the festival, having served as MC for the previous three festivals, did an excellent job. The front tables were full of her family, including her little sister Gail, whom you may remember from Rosemary's TV show or singing duets with her sister when she was just a child, her sister-in-law Nina, her niece Ada, and countless cousins from near and far. Her nephew George, who had the strongest connection to the evening's main performers ("O Brother Where Art Thou's" "Down from the Mountain Tour"), shared the stage with his dad for a few moments.....commenting on the fact that he thought he'd had his picture taken with every person in the audience, and that they all might be relatives too. All of Rosemary's family is so gracious and hospitable and friendly with fans.

In between performances they showed three different video collages of Rosemary photos, performances and movie clips. The first was narrated by Nick and focused on her childhood in Maysville and her singing with her sister Betty and Tony Pastor's band. The second was narrated by Miguel and focused on her marriage to Jose, their spectacular careers, their growing family, and Rosemary's "break with reality," and her amazing comeback and belief in "happy endings." The last was narrated by dear Dante and focused on their decades old friendship, their second chance at love which he always believed was due to far more than chance, her second career and their wedding of which he remembers every moment. He said he would continue to spend the rest of his life with Rosemary "in the deepest part of my heart and soul."

After their narrations were complete, Nick, Miguel and Dante each spoke to the audience. Nick introduced Rosemary's oldest friend, Blanche Chambers, the person who knew Rosemary longer than anyone. She was given a standing ovation. Miguel talked with his Uncle Nick about his earliest memories of Maysville which included Rosemary Clooney St., Grandma Guilfoyle, and the steering wheel of Uncle Nick's corvette that he got his hand stuck in.

Dante made his way to center stage to a thunderous, standing ovation. It was obvious to everyone how difficult this evening had to be for him, and through their cheers and applause, the audience tried to communicate their love and support and appreciation to him. In "going on with the show," he'd exhibited the kind of courage he'd always said Rosemary embodied. He read from a prepared speech, for he'd feared without it, he might become too emotional. He first thanked his brother Nick and his sister Nina for their love and support. He thanked Maysville and spoke lovingly of "the greatest love of his life." He said Rosemary had wanted to see the Russell Theatre restored to its glory days. Then saying he'd gotten a message from Rosemary, he said she was telling him, "DANTE, NOW WRAP IT UP!"

Highlights of the evening included:


Gail enjoyed own career in show biz

by Nick Clooney, Cincinnati Post, October 7, 2002

"When I was at the Rosemary Clooney Festival (on September 28th) you introduced your `kid sister,' I believe you said Gail, to the audience. She's very attractive. Is she in the entertainment business? And didn't Rosemary always introduce you as `the baby' of the family?" —Arlene Goins, Richmond, Indiana.

It's true, Arlene; families can get confusing, can't they? Let me see if I can sort it out for everyone, because Ms. Goins is not the only one who asked.

For those who have not read about her before in this corner, Gail is 11 years younger than I. She had a successful career as a child actress and was the first in the family to appear in a non-musical prime-time television show. In 1957-58, Gail played one of Eve Arden's twin daughters on "The Eve Arden Show" on CBS-TV every Tuesday night at 8:30. This was Miss Arden's follow-up to her hit radio and television situation comedy "Our Miss Brooks." Gail was 12 years old.

The show was an early venture into the subject of single parenthood with Miss Arden playing a widow who supported her daughters as a writer. The lecture circuit kept her on the road a good deal, so she brought in her own mother to take care of the girls.

Eve's mother was played by none other than Frances Bavier, two years away from becoming immortal as Andy Griffith's beloved Aunt Bea. "In the time I worked with her, she really was Aunt Bea," Gail told me. "She was sweet and supportive of us. And what an actress! She could call up tears in 15 seconds."

How about Eve Arden? "Well, of course I thought she was the best. She saw me in a tiny part in the movie `The Great Man' and chose me as her daughter without so much as an audition. She took Karen Greene (her sister in the show) and me to her ranch, trying to bond us as a family. I loved her. You know the director of that show was John Rich, who went on to direct `All in the Family,' among other big shows.

"I did a few other movies and a lot of TV commercials, but, Nick, by the time I was 20 I really wasn't comfortable with the performance side. I liked to be behind the camera much more. I felt more at home there. I thought I could excel."

She did. For a time in the 1970s, Gail was a talent coordinator on my TV show at Channel 12 in Cincinnati. She became an assistant producer with Allen Sviridoff, Rosemary's manager, who was also a producer of major theater and cabaret shows and benefits. Gail worked with all the top names.

Gail's daughter, Mica, was a talented figure skater from her earliest days, eventually competing at the national and international level. Mica gave it up in favor of an education and, after graduating from Yale, she undertook a singing career and, with her friend Akina Adderley, was featured at this year's festival in Maysville.

Gail's husband, Chris Darley, is an Emmy Award-winning director, among whose credits is "Hollywood Squares."

Now, let's get to the slightly complicated question of relationship. When Rosemary called me the "baby," she was right. Rosemary, Betty and I are the product of the marriage of Andrew Clooney and Frances Guilfoyle, both of Maysville. Mom and Dad weren't able to make the marriage work and divorced in the late 1930s. Both Mom and Dad eventually had other families.

Dad had three more children, great kids. Only one, Joe, pursued a musical career and is a talented country singer and drummer.

Mom married a World War II Seabee, Bill Stone from Lexington, and Gail was the result of that marriage in 1945. She'll kill me for giving the date. When Gail worked in show business, it was under the name Gail Stone.

As with most families, it is difficult to know the players without a scorecard, but I always thought I was very lucky in having such a colorful and loving cast of characters for relatives.

I was walking my four-footed friend, Spags, last week and a man inquired about her pedigree. "We have a deal," I answered. "I won't ask about hers if she won't ask about mine."

Our relatives are all thoroughbreds.

So much music, so many thanks

By Nick Clooney, Cincinnati Post, October 4, 2002

Nearly a week has gone by now, but there are one or two footnotes to the Rosemary Clooney Music Festival worth sharing with you, I think.

Four hours before the evening festivities began on the outdoor stage at Third and Market in Maysville there was a musical salute to Rosemary at the Opera Theater on Second Street.

Members of our family were coming in from every point of the compass that afternoon, so my wife Nina had to be home to coordinate accommodations for everyone. For my part, I was deep into last-minute writing for the evening show and an "Extra" TV segment. None of us, however, wanted to miss the tribute. I was able to, at the last minute, make a mad dash from Augusta to Maysville and got to the lobby at 2 p.m. on the dot.

Organizers had reserved some seats for the family, in case we could make it. I spied cousin Tom Anderson near the door, so I grabbed his arm and we got to our seats as the introduction was under way.

The Opera Theater was packed. So was the stage, for that matter, because the opening performance was by the Limestone Chorale, 32 voices strong. I looked at those faces, some of them so familiar, and felt a twinge. I would have to be very careful. There was much for me to do that day and night and it wouldn't do for me to lose it.

Coralie Jones, the director, came out and began the program. The first song was "How Can I Keep from Singing." I took a couple of hard swallows as the appropriateness of that choice swept over us all. Of course, Rosemary could never keep from singing.

For that matter, neither could any of those up on stage. They were men and women who were young — and not so young. They gave up hours of their time to practice and perform because they couldn't keep from singing. Had circumstances been otherwise, Rosemary and Betty — and I — might have been among them. They were, for the record, quite wonderful.

Chuck Gillespie, a solid, competent baritone with Maysville connections, came down from Columbus to sing songs Rosemary had recorded — "Tenderly," "Hey There," "Count Your Blessings" — and a few others from Rosemary's era, including Nat Cole's great hit "Too Young." Mr. Gillespie was rewarded with a standing ovation.

Though the concert was a salute to Rosemary, and to our sister Betty, too, it should be noted that on Saturday afternoon, the Clarke family made clear its own place in Maysville music. James Clarke is the Chorale's talented and vigorous piano accompanist, Kelly Clarke is a baritone soloist and Catherine Clarke, who came in especially for this tribute, is a soprano with a fine voice and excellent stage presence.

Ms. Clarke sang a medley of Gershwin songs, certainly appropriate to the occasion. Rosemary was always proud that her next-door neighbor in California for many years was Ira Gershwin and that her own house had once been rented by George Gershwin, so he and Ira could work on movie music. Rosemary would also have been pleased that Ms. Clarke chose a couple of lesser-known Gershwin show tunes with decidedly sassy lyrics.

The Limestone Chorale completed the salute with a charming parody of "Thanks for the Memory" with special lyrics by Mary Anderson and Marion Russell, tracing Rosemary's connections with Maysville. The closing song, "Every Time We Say Goodbye, I Die A Little" was entirely too appropriate. I'm afraid I hurried away without thanking everyone adequately. I hope I'm doing that now. The song had touched a secret place, and I wasn't ready for it.

Music can do that to you.

The next day, Sunday, the family gathered at Second and Main in Augusta where a good crowd was on hand to dedicate carillon songs to honor Rosemary's 20-year residence in Augusta. The Rotary Club spearheaded the salute and 89 Augusta families contributed to the preparation of Rosemary's songs on our carillon speaker in the school tower. After the ceremony, Rotarian Al Cigolotti started the music, leading off with "Come On A My House." We thanked everyone and went home. When we got to our front porch, the chimes began the song Rosemary always ended her show with, "It's Very Clear, Our Love Is Here To Stay." As if on signal, we all stopped in our tracks.

Music can do that to you.

Rosie's fans applaud her music, spirit

By Nick Clooney, Cincinnati Post, October 2, 2002

"I'm Pat Jenkins. I read your column on the Internet. I've written you a couple of letters."

It was the evening of my sister Rosemary's music festival in Maysville. The woman who spoke to me was attractive but unfamiliar. I tried to remember who she was and what she might have written about. There was a slight flicker as one "Jenkins" popped into my aging memory bank.

"I'm sorry," I said, "the only Jenkins I remember writes from the state of Washington. The town, I believe, is Kent."

"That's right. I'm Pat Jenkins from Kent, Washington."

"What are you doing in Kentucky?"

"Well, you said this first concert after Rosemary's death was `crucial.' I thought I'd better come and support it."

I looked at her for a long moment. She had come nearly 3,000 miles because she didn't think the music festival in this little far-away town should be allowed to die.

It was that kind of night. At last count, people had come from 21 states and Canada. It was our largest crowd yet and they were greeted with Rosemary weather, a perfect fall night.

At rehearsal Saturday afternoon, I looked out at those white tablecloths, sparkling in the sun stretching all the way up Third Street. There was the familiar twinge. Would they show up?

They would.

They came to see and hear the Down From the Mountain Tour with Alison Krauss, the Whites and the Peasall Sisters. They came to see George Clooney and Miguel Ferrer. They came to see Rosemary's husband, Dante DiPaolo, and hometown girl Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000. They came to see and hear the wonderful Blue Wisp Big Band. Perhaps some even came to see Nina and me.

They got a surprise and a bonus when our niece, Mica Darley, and her friend Akina Adderley — the great-niece of Cannonball Adderley — belted out a song to get us started.

But the real reason they came, I think, was to let the world know they were not going to forget Rosemary Clooney, any more than she had ever forgotten them.

Our family closed ranks on a matchless Saturday in September, and our family included everyone in that audience; every person who bought those expensive dinner tickets, every server, every performer, every fan who bought a lawn chair and sat it down on Third or Market, every resident who leaned out of her window, all are family.

Every familiar face — Jim Scott, Steve Henry, Jim Bunning and many more — and every anonymous face, too, all were Clooney cousins that night.

Presiding over everything was the refurbished Russell Theater marquee, shining as bright as the night it opened more than 70 years ago. The Russell restoration was the original reason for the concert and most of the work done had not been visible: new foundation, new supports, new roof. The marquee, on the other hand, is very visible, indeed, and Barbour Russell IV, direct descendant of the man who built the movie palace, was on hand to see it.

When Lt. Governor Henry, Maysville Mayor David Cartmell and the judge-executives of Mason and Bracken counties, Buddy Gallenstein and Pie Jett, brought proclamations declaring Ky. Highway 10 from Pendleton County in the west to Lewis County in the east, "in honor of Nick Clooney and his family" to be designated "Clooney Highway," I was, for once, at a loss for words.

It is an honor we treasure and, as a gift, it could not be more appropriate. The Clooneys, it seems, are always on the road, but the road always leads back home.

The mayor then made the announcement we had all been hoping for. "The Rosemary Clooney Music Festival will continue. See you next year."

There were a couple of other events surrounding the festival I'd like to tell you about. That will have to wait until Friday.

Rosemary's town

Music festival becomes Clooney memorial

By Andy Mead, HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER - Posted September 29, 2002

MAYSVILLE - The fourth annual Rosemary Clooney Music Festival that ended last night with a street full of people enjoying music under the stars was the first that didn't feature an appearance by Rosemary Clooney.

But the show went on.

The singer, actress and Maysville native died from lung cancer complications June 29 in her Beverly Hills home.

The festival was the first time many of her family and friends had come together since her funeral, which took place in Maysville. The gathering was especially bittersweet because it was to have been her return to performing in public after being treated for cancer.

Nick Clooney, who took to the stage to introduce a film tribute to his sister's life, said there was never a question of canceling the festival. He also took credit for the evening's perfect setting.

"My only responsibility tonight was the weather," Nick Clooney said. "This will be known henceforth and forevermore as Rosemary weather."

Other family members, including her nephew, actor George Clooney; her son, actor Miguel Ferrer; and her widower, Dante DiPaolo, also attended.

"You know how everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day? Well, everybody in Maysville is a Clooney today," Mayor David Cartmell said.

Even last night's featured performers had a Clooney connection. Several acts from the Down From the Mountain tour, including Alison Krauss, the Peasall Sisters and the Whites, were there as a nod to Rosemary Clooney's country and bluegrass roots.

The tour is an offshoot of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which starred George Clooney.

Rosemary Clooney's image was everywhere yesterday, along with marquees and signs that said "Thanks Rosie, for the Memories," and "She Always Came Home."

The festival lasts two days and has several musical performances. But Saturday night is always the highlight.

A block of Third Street in front of the Russell Theatre was blocked off with movable picket fences, and the street was filled with round tables with white tablecloths.

Profits go to restoring the Russell, which was built in 1930 and has been closed since 1983. People inside the picket fence paid $75 or $150 each for dinner and the show.

Many people stood outside the fences and listened for free.

Those fans included Gilbert and Joan Greber, who drive down from Mount Orab, Ohio, each year for the festival. They usually buy a souvenir; this year it was a saucer and cup in the same pattern used in Clooney's 1997 wedding to DiPaolo, which took place in Maysville.

"We come for Rosemary and for the music," said Gilbert Greber, 69. "I remember her from the '50s."

Rosemary Clooney became a sensation with her 1951 recording of Come on-a My House. Her first movie, The Stars Are Singing, had its world premiere at the Russell Theatre in 1953. She went through some rough times, but made a comeback in the mid-1990s.

She never forgot Maysville.

Mayor Cartmell said she visited often and would sometimes show up at parties at his house and sing.

When Maysville decided to have an annual festival, naming it for Rosemary Clooney "just seemed like the logical thing to do," said Duff Griffen, a festival organizer.

"We asked her if she would perform at the first one," Griffen said. "She said that as long as the proceeds went to restoring the Russell, she would come to as many as she could."

Come on-a home


Hometown Remembers Rosemary Clooney

Rosemary Clooney's Hometown of Maysville, Ky., Remembers Singer and Actress With Festival

MAYSVILLE, Ky. Sept. 29 — She may be gone, but Rosemary Clooney hasn't been forgotten by her hometown, which celebrated the fourth annual music festival named in her honor.

The singer and actress died June 29 at age 74 from lung cancer complications in Beverly Hills.

The festival ended Saturday night on a bittersweet note. Clooney had been scheduled to perform in what would have been her first appearance since being treated for cancer.

Her brother Nick Clooney, who took the stage to introduce a film tribute, said there was never any question of canceling the festival.

Other family members who attended included actor George Clooney, her nephew; actor Miguel Ferrer, her son; and Dante DiPaolo, her husband.

"You know how everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day? Well, everybody in Maysville is a Clooney today," Mayor David Cartmell said.

Performance pays tribute to local legend

By LISA DUNBAR - Staff Writer, Maysville's Ledger Independent
Monday, September 30, 2002

The stars shined in the streets of Maysville Saturday night at the fourth annual Rosemary Clooney Music Festival.

And they all shined in tribute to Maysville's brightest star Rosemary Clooney.

Saturday night's show, planned by O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack producer T-Bone Burnett, mixed the talents of some of Bluegrass music's hottest stars with music by the girl singer and traditional Bluegrass.

Alison Krauss headlined the show along with fellow Down from the Mountain tour artists Ron Block, The Whites and The Peasall Sisters.

Although Bluegrass may seem a long way from much of Rosemary's best known songs, her roots were in Kentucky, and she did record some Country music songs. That's what producers were thinking of when Down from the Mountain artists were chosen for the festival, said Nick Clooney.

George Clooney starred in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but denied that he and Miguel Ferrer were the ones responsible for bringing Down from the Mountain artists to the festival. It was Nick Clooney who should take all the credit, he said.

"It wasn't me and Miguel who put this together. It was this old man here ... because of his love of Rosemary and his love of this town."

Nick and George exchanged quips on stage regarding George's ability to sing. George finally admitted that T-Bone Burnett should thank him for not singing in the film.

"The album is considerably more successful than the film," said George Clooney. "I had Enron, a piece of the film and the governor - I bet on him."

Later he quipped, "Did I mention, I'm running for governor."

"Steve Henry just fainted," said Nick Clooney.

Henry and Mayor David Cartmell later announced Kentucky 10 from Lewis County to Pendleton County has been designated as the Clooney Highway.

Henry said some time ago George and Miguel asked Heather French Henry how you get a street named after you since she had so many.

"I was afraid George was going to run for governor to get a road named after him. ... By the way, George, if you do run for governor, can I be your Lieutenant Governor. I can wait another eight years," said Henry.

Henry held up a green and white road sign reading ''Clooney Highway.''

"The sign will be bigger, George. It will be as big as Heather's," said Henry.

Before singing two songs from Rosemary's repertoire, Heather French Henry spoke briefly of how Rosemary called her the day after she was crowned Miss America and told her: "You are stepping on a merry-go-round going 60,000 miles per hour, and there's no way you can stop it."

Rosemary offered her support to the new Miss America and they talked many times, said French Henry.

The show mixed three short biographical videos with performances which included some of Rosemary's songs. After a short video narrated by Nick Clooney covering Rosemary's childhood in Maysville and early years in Cincinnati, The Peasall Sisters, Leah, 9, Hannah, 11, and Sarah, 13, performed "Straighten Up and Fly Right," one of the earliest songs performed by Rosemary and sister Betty when they began their career in Cincinnati.

Rosemary's eldest son Miguel Ferrer narrated a video covering his mother's early film career, marriage to his father Jose Ferrer, trouble with prescription drugs and her battle back.

Ferrer and Nick Clooney traded memories of Maysville and spoke of Rosemary's connection with the town and area residents.

"This town was so important," said Ferrer. "She always felt a connection with Maysville."

That sense of connection extended beyond Rosemary to her family as well.

"I feel more welcome here than I do in my own home town," said Dante DiPaolo, Rosemary's husband, who narrated the last video detailing Rosemary's comeback and their life together.

DiPaolo spoke emotionally of his long friendship with Rosemary, their reunion and their marriage at St. Patrick Church.

"People said that it was chance that brought us together again. I always thought it was a lot more than chance," said DiPaolo. "I will spend the rest of my life with Rosemary in the deepest part of my heart and soul."

Krauss, Block and The Whites performed a number of traditional Bluegrass songs, some of which had folks clapping along and at least one couple dancing between the tables.

Despite performing a different kind of music from Rosemary Clooney, Sharon White said she had always been a big fan of the girl singer who she called one of the greats.

Nick Clooney also announced on behalf of the mayor and Jerry Lundergan that "the festival will be back next year and the year after that and the year after that right here at Third and Market."

The festival ended with The Peasall Sisters leading the crowd in "God Bless America."

"See you next year," shouted Nick Clooney.

Clooney Family Reunion


EXTRA TV Monday, September 30, 2002

This weekend it was George and the rest of the Clooney clan returning to their routes in the bluegrass state for an emotional family reunion honoring the late Rosemary Clooney.

Legendary newsman and George’s father, Nick Clooney showed us around the fourth annual festival and more importantly the first since Rosemary's death in late June. George said, "It's interesting because we were right down the street for the funeral a couple months ago. So it's a little bittersweet being here."

While friends and family came to honor the legendary crooner and her music, it was the sounds from the Grammy-award winning soundtrack of George’s movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" that stole the show. George joked, "The album is considerably more successful than the film thank you."

George's cousin and Rosemary's son, "Crossing Jordan" star Miguel Ferrer, spoke about his mother and his fond memories of the family. He said, "All 11 grandkids coming here every summer, it was just as good as it got."

And it's the power of family that made sure even after losing a legend like Rosemary, her music and memory would live on.