'Bless this house' Rosemary Clooney fans feel the love in museum

By John Kiesewetter, Enquirer staff writer - Sunday, October 2, 2005

AUGUSTA - Once again, Rosemary Clooney's soothing voice wafted from her Riverside Drive home overlooking the picturesque Ohio River.

About 300 people listened to a recording of her singing "Bless This House" before the ribbon-cutting of the Rosemary Clooney House Museum on Saturday morning.

Dante DiPaolo, who was married to Clooney when she died three years ago, and Clooney's best friend, Blanch Mae Chambers of Maysville, dabbed their eyes while hearing her sing: "Bless this house, we pray; Make it safe by night and day."

For 20 years, the two-story brick home built in 1835 was Clooney's safe haven away from Hollywood.

"I just loved this place. After all our hectic tours, we'd come back here. This was like heaven," said DiPaolo, an actor and dancer who met Clooney in 1952. They married in 1997 in Maysville.

At the request of Clooney's daughters, former Miss America Heather French Henry of Augusta and her husband, former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, bought the house a year ago for $200,000.

After about $100,000 in remodeling, the Henrys filled it with Clooney memorabilia, including the world's largest display of costumes, and items from "White Christmas," her beloved 1954 movie with Bob Hope, Danny Kaye and Norwood native Vera-Ellen.

Visitors for the first time Saturday were able to go upstairs and see the singer's brass bed, linens and wicker bedroom furnishings. Three downstairs rooms opened in June in this tiny river town (population 1,300) about an hour southeast of Covington.

"You get to see how Rosemary lived," said Steve Henry, who resides in Louisville with his wife and their two preschool daughters. When they visit his wife's hometown, the Henrys live in the Clooney house's guest bedroom.

Thanks to Steve Henry, guests see the actual dresses, gloves, blouses, robe and jacket worn by Clooney or her co-stars. His requests for memorabilia to CBS President Les Moonves - whose parent company Viacom also owns Paramount Pictures - prompted a preservation effort at the studio.

"If it hadn't been for Steve Henry, Paramount would never have stepped up its efforts for preservation," said Randall Thropp, Paramount Pictures costume supervisor, who attended the ceremony.

More than 700 pieces of clothing worn by Clooney, Crosby, Bob Hope, Barbara Stanwyck, Jack Benny, Vivien Leigh, Cary Grant, Jerry Lewis and others were rescued after the Clooney search began in January, Thropp says.

He's most proud of Hope's cream-colored tuxedo on display in the museum from the 1953 film "Here Comes The Girls," with Clooney and Tony Martin.

"Of all the movies Bob Hope made for Paramount, this is the only complete outfit that exists. I'm so glad they have it on display here, instead of it being in the hands of a collector," Thropp says.

Thropp also was amazed at the replica of the fur-trimmed red dress Clooney wore in the "White Christmas" finale that was sewn by Heather French Henry's mother. "I was blown away," Thropp said.

People came Saturday from as far as Knoxville, Tenn., and Lancaster, Ohio, to attend the ceremony and look at the dozens of movie and family photos (including some of famous nephew George Clooney); a TV script from her 1957 "Lux Show" variety series; her piano, records, magazine articles and movie posters. It also has photos of Clooney's Beverly Hills home demolished in August, and a Clooney family tree painted on a downstairs wall by Heather French Henry.

DiPaolo was pleased with what he saw Saturday. His late wife would be pleased, too, he said.

"I think she's full of joy right now," he said, "because this is a continuation of the home in the best possible way. It will go on indefinitely."

Memorabilia of LA Clooney House added to local museum

By WENDY MITCHELL Ledger - Sunday, October 2, 2005 7:19 PM EDT

AUGUSTA -- Plans are never complete at the Rosemary Clooney House Museum in Augusta.

On display Saturday at the Grand Opening of the museum on Riverside Drive, that once was the home of movie and music legend Rosemary Clooney, were plans and pieces of a future addition to the property.

In an effort to save a portion of the 1019 Roxbury Street home of Rosemary Clooney in California, a delegation from Kentucky travelled to Los Angeles on the eve of the demolition of the century old home.

Unable to stem the need for the valuable ground beneath the old house, the folks from the Rosemary Clooney House Museum in Augusta salvaged what they could.

"I called up Tim Cogley and asked what his plans were for the next few days," said Steve Henry during the ceremony." I needed to fly him to Los Angeles so he could drive a truck loaded with what we had scavenged from the demolition site. We got door bells and porch lights; bricks and some beams."

The Henrys are hoping to incorporate the Mediterranean style of the Roxbury house into an addition to the museum property.

"We are looking at how to tie the two together with terra cotta tiles," said Henry.

Cogley, a friend of Clooney's husband Dante DiPaolo and the Henrys, made some schedule changes and obliged. In an earlier trip to retrieve donations from Paramount studios Cogley and his wife Lauree also helped bring the rehearsal piano Clooney and the cast of White Christmas used to its new home at the museum.

During the opening ceremony DiPaolo, himself a star in "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers," became a little emotional as he told the crowd, "Rosemary would have loved to see you all here."

While promotion for the museum is in full swing there is always something to do to attract visitors that are the life blood of the project.

"We have had an exceptional response, over 4,000 visitors already," said Henry.

The backgrounds of the visitors were almost as noteworthy as Clooney herself.

"We get a lot of retired dancers; one of them was in White Christmas with Rosemary. She said she was planning to come back and bring more dancers with her," said Henry.

Donations have played a big part in making phase one of the project, aimed at preserving the home and motion picture memorabilia of Clooney, a reality.

"If it had not been for Steve and Heather Henry pushing Paramount for the museum donations many costumes and memorabilia belonging to many stars may have been lost," said Paramount executive Randall Thropp. "Because of this wonderful tribute to Rosemary Clooney the memories of other performers are now being more carefully preserved."

Thropp has continued to send items as he finds them said Henry, who teased Thropp for addressing the last package "From our dumpster to your museum."

Donations continued to arrive at the museum, even during the ceremony.

Elsie Beckett, of Berry, Kentucky, while on a trip to Arizona, had found a copy of an earlier Clooney book and gave it to Heather French Henry for the museum.

"I have never seen such generosity on behalf of a project such as this and I want them to know, and they know who they are, that we all appreciate what has been done to bring this to life," said Henry.

A recording of Clooney singing "Bless This House" wrapped up the opening ceremony.

As visitors patiently waited for their turn to view the collection Rick Dees, accompanied by his wife Julie, and Nick and Nina Clooney, visited and joked with the crowd.

Dees was impressed by the museum and the demonstrated friendliness of people in Augusta. One of the sites Dees said he would remember was the one of the Henry children where they had fallen asleep on the floor at the foot of Rosemary Clooney's bed during the public tour. Busy with the schedule in Augusta and Maysville on Saturday the Dees' walked along Riverside Drive wondering if they should stay the weekend or leave after the concert.

"It's going to be a hard decision," said Dees.

Heather French Henry echoed a similar sentiment when she recalled why Rosemary had come back to Augusta, as Henry has done.

"We could breath here, during the hecktiveness of our schedules," said Henry.

A visitor from Louisville came for the same reason many said they loved Clooney.

"She was just a good old girl with a beautiful voice," said Geraldine Jewell. "A Kentucky girl." 

Funds donated to start Rosemary Clooney School of Performing Arts

By DANETTA BARKER  - Maysville's Ledger-Independent, Sunday, October 2, 2005 7:23 PM EDT

As if the beautiful weather, the spectacular dancers and the soothing voice of Rita Coolidge were not enough to make the Kentucky Utilities Presents the Seventh Annual Rosemary Clooney Concert a heady experience, an announcement from the show's coordinator gave Maysville another boost.

Lundy's Special Events owner and promoter of the concert, Jerry Lundergan, told the crowd that he plans to donate $25,000 to establish the Rosemary Clooney School of Performing Arts. Lundergan, a Maysville native, said he wants the school built in Maysville where Rosemary Clooney herself took the first steps to becoming an international star.

Lundergan said he and his wife, Charlotte, thought the school would be a good place to help young people from Mason and surrounding counties as well as Ohio to learn the basics of performing.

"Rosemary always wanted the young people of this community to have the same opportunities she had," Lundergan said. "We hope to bring the best teachers to train the young people of Maysville, right here in Maysville."

Rosemary Clooney's niece, Mica Darley, teaches in the performing arts program at the University of Cincinnati and is very interested in teaching in a school bearing her aunt's name.

Rosemary's sister, Gail Darley, along with Rosemary's husband, Dante DiPaolo, took the announcement with surprise and excitement. Darley said the school is something that would have pleased her sister, who died in 2002.

"This is great," Darley said. "Rosemary always wanted anything to help the younger generation."

DiPaolo said the same of the woman he married in Maysville just a few short years before her death. Despite their brief marriage, theirs was a love that lasted for most of their adult life.

"The first time I saw her in ‘Here Come the Girls,'" DiPaolo said. "I thought there is a sporty lady."

Rosemary was so determined and so very snappy in those days in the early 1950s, Di Paolo said.

"She was out to win the world," he said. "We all loved her; Dean Martin loved her."

DiPaolo was given the job of teaching the Girl Singer how to dance. During one of the lessons, she asked him to dinner.

"We were very flirty," DiPaolo laughed. "We had a world famous water fight that began by flicking spoons of water at each other. We were very infatuated."

The romance didn't have a chance to blossom. DiPaolo took a job in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," passing up a chance to be in "White Christmas," the film that made Rosemary Clooney an international star. They were separated for more than a year. DiPaolo said the time gave Rosemary Clooney a chance to reunite with her former husband, Jose Ferrer. It would be more than a decade before DiPaolo was reunited with his love.

Darley said DiPaolo spent the last 30 years with her sister. He became a dear member of the Clooney family and grandfather to Rosemary Clooney's grandchildren.

"He is a dear, dear man and we love him," Darley said.

From one who could have benefited from a performing art school in the area, Heather French Henry said the school was overdue. Henry transferred from Augusta Independent School to study violin in the Mason County school system.

"C.J. Hunter III taught me to play the violin," Henry said. "He was wonderful. I learned to play the flute, the trumpet and the xylophone."

A performing arts school would encourage those who might be interested to choose a focus in the performing arts, according to Henry.

As the rush of Lundergan's announcement subsided, the host for the evening, Rick Dees, took the stage to honor former host, Nick Clooney. He said he had watched Nick Clooney on television with his mother, who described Nick Clooney as gorgeous.

Dees poked a little fun at Maysville and Kentucky, but said the city was one of his three favorite towns in the world. Dees, who hosts America's Top 40 radio show to count down the greatest hits of the week, owns a farm near Danville where he spends much of his time with wife, Julie.

"Maysville has four distinctive features, the river, the people, four distinctive seasons and the spirit that is unbridled," Dees said.

With an exact replica of his Hollywood studio in Danville, with the flip of a switch, Dees can record his radio show in Kentucky.

"It is so much easier to go down the Bluegrass Parkway than to drive down Highway 101 (in California)," Dees said.

A long time fan of Rosemary Clooney, Dees said he wishes her voice, coming from her not a recording, could be heard again over the airwaves again.

"I wish I could be able to say, ‘Here is Rosemary Clooney with the number one hit,'" Dees said.

Before Coolidge took the stage, performers from the University of Kentucky flapped and tapped their way to the stage to give an astounding tribute to the movie and play "Chicago." The student performed some of the most popular songs from the production including, "All That Jazz."

Coolidge took the stage amid some sound system difficulties, but breezed through the adjustments with a joke before continuing her performance.

"Rick Dees didn't have any sound problems," Coolidge joked.

Coolidge began her career touring with a group of musicians, including Eric Clapton. She said every night the young girls would watch him play and the looks on their faces pleaded with him to come to them and take them with him.

"It has never happened in the history of show business," Coolidge said.

The rest of her performance went smoothly and received loud applause when she broke into her hit "Higher and Higher." She ended the concert with a Cherokee version of "Amazing Grace."

Contact Danetta Barker at Danetta.Barker@lee.net or call 606-564-9091, ext. 272.

 Maysville preparing to celebrate Rosemary Clooney

Associated Press

Blanche Chambers holds the memories of her childhood friend Rosemary Clooney in a special place.

It's not a fancy glass case with pictures and effects of Rosemary in her home. Instead, its a large plain brown envelope.

The fancy displays will be out this weekend, as Maysville celebrates Clooney, with the opening of the Rosemary Clooney House Museum and related festival. The museum opening coincides with several events around Maysville focused on the career, music, movies and memories of Clooney, who left Maysville at 17 and became a singing sensation who knew Sinatra, Crosby and Hope well.

The museum open the second floor of Clooney's home in Augusta, with her bedroom the way she had it, featuring her bed, linens and several personal effects, former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry told the Maysville Ledger-Independent.

"It has been put back together pretty much the way Rosemary left it," said Henry, who with his wife, former Miss America Heather French Henry, renovated the home.

The Henrys bought the house, first built in 1835, at the behest of the Clooney family with the idea of turning it into a museum. Henry said it's been a labor of love.

"We've just lost our minds," Henry said. "A lot of people might want to come see that."

The planned celebration is also bringing back memories for Chambers. She will not discuss anything about their lives that Rosemary hasn't already mentioned in interviews or books.

Chambers loved Rosemary until her death because "she was always the same girl."

Chambers, who is black, and Clooney, who was white, played together in the 1930s and 1940s, running the streets, singing, people watching going for ice cream - all while probably violating the social norms of the time.

The friendship transcended race, Chambers said, and pointed to Clooney's return to town in 1953 for the premiere of her first film, The Stars Are Singing.

Town officials wanted a parade and Clooney wanted Chambers in the convertible with her. Some city dignitaries said no. Clooney responded, "Then no parade."

Chambers rode up front. When Rosemary asked her what she should do, since the people were waving and yelling at her from the sidewalks, Chambers answered back, "Wave and yell back."

When Chambers and Clooney attended the Kentucky State Fair in 1959, Chambers hatched a plan to avoid any confrontations. She persuaded Clooney to explain that Chambers was her maid.

"She didn't want to do it, but she did," Chambers said.

Every place Rosemary went, said Chambers, "she made sure I went with her."

There were thousands of postcards and many phone calls over the years.

"But we didn't have to talk all the time to stay friends," Chambers said.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Come On-a My House
Visitors can tour Rosemary Clooney's home in Augusta

By James Bickers Special to The Courier-Journal

You can take the girl out of Kentucky, but you can't take Kentucky out of the girl. Heck, you often can't even do the former for very long.

That's especially true when you're talking about Rosemary Clooney, who went from her home in Maysville to the bright lights of Hollywood. Despite all of the success she achieved -- the career in film and television, the novelty songs she loathed, all the other songs she loved -- her heart never left the Bluegrass State.

She came back home often. She got married in St. Patrick's Catholic Church in downtown Maysville. She came back in 1999 to lend her talents to the first Rosemary Clooney Music Festival, and she came back home each year thereafter to perform. And she came home to stay in 2002 after losing a six-month battle with lung cancer.

The place that she literally called home -- along with her brother Nick, his wife, Nina, and their kids, Ada and George -- now belongs to former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry and his wife, Heather French Henry. They've been working on it with loving care, trying to get it to look and feel as it did when Clooney lived there.

Tomorrow is the grand opening of the Rosemary Clooney House Museum, which features, among other things, a "White Christmas Room." Here, you'll find that familiar red dress she wore in the film, the piano used in the movie and Bing Crosby's uniform. Other family memorabilia -- including, yes, stuff about George -- can be found throughout the house. There's also a "Miss America Room" that commemorates Heather French Henry's status as Miss Kentucky and Miss America 2000.

The official ribbon-cutting will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow, but the festivities get started at 8 tonight with a street party featuring live music, dancing and food.

Clooney home now a shrine to her stardom

Byron Crawford - courier-journal -  Friday, September 30, 2005

The song that launched Rosemary Clooney's recording and motion-picture career, "Come-on-a-my-house" (1951), has set the mood for tomorrow's grand opening of her Augusta, Ky., home as a museum.

"It's sort of the integral theme of the house and a way of paying tribute to her," said Heather French Henry, the former Miss America from Kentucky, who was born in Augusta and grew up in nearby Maysville.

She and her husband, Dr. Steve Henry of Louisville, the former lieutenant governor, bought the Clooney home several months ago and will maintain it as a part-time residence and a permanent museum dedicated to Clooney's achievements.

The Henrys had initially planned to open only the downstairs of the home to a collection of Rosemary Clooney memorabilia. But as word of their effort spread through Northern Kentucky, New York and Hollywood, family, friends and fans of Clooney, who died in 2002, began donating items for the home. Part of the second story has now been opened to accommodate the collection.

"Les Moonves, the president of CBS and Viacom … gave us permission to get anything that Paramount Studios had, and we've developed some really good relationships with some people there," Steve Henry said.

Among the many items now in the collection are Bing Crosby's military jacket, Clooney's red robe, rhinestone gloves and blue peacock fan from the movie classic "White Christmas," and scores of other artifacts, including several pieces donated by Bob Hope's daughter, Linda, from her father's film appearances with Clooney.

Clooney's brother, television personality and journalist Nick Clooney, and sister-in-law Nina, both of Augusta, and Nick and Nina's son, actor George Clooney, and many other family members and friends have supplied other collectibles.

"It just kept coming," Steve Henry said. "Her husband, Dante Di Paolo, gave us her rehearsal piano that was used in all of her Paramount Studio movies, and Dante is coming in Saturday."

Other memorabilia

Rosemary's upstairs bedroom is almost exactly as she left it -- and will now be opened for tours. The guest bedroom will be filled with exhibits of Heather French Henry's Miss America gowns and with other famous Augusta memorabilia, such as artifacts from the scenes of "Huck Finn" and "Centennial" that were filmed in Augusta.

A $5 admission charge will help maintain the museum.

The Henrys also hope to eventually incorporate into an addition to the rear of the home many pieces salvaged from Rosemary Clooney's Beverly Hills home that was recently demolished by a new owner.

The Grand Opening of the Rosemary Clooney House Inc. is scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at 106 E. Riverside Drive in Augusta, a prelude to the annual Rosemary Clooney Music Festival tomorrow evening in Maysville.

"Then on Sunday, the B&B Riverboat, the Belle of Cincinnati, will be bringing about 200 folks from Cincinnati for a lunch and dinner cruise and it's going to dock right in front of the Rosemary Clooney House," said Heather French Henry. "It's going to be a huge weekend."

The Rosemary Clooney House is open on weekends from 1 to 5 p.m. and by appointment for groups on weekdays. Phone (606) 756-2603.

Byron Crawford's column appears on the Metro page Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can reach him at (502) 582-4791 or e-mail him at bcrawford@courier-journal.com. You can also read his columns at www.courier-journal.com.

Rosemary Clooney, center, posed with her friend Blanche Chambers in this undated photograph belonging to Chambers (not included). Clooney’s father, Andy Clooney, sat behind them. Chambers grew up with Clooney in Maysville and remained close to the singer throughout her life.

Two races, one lifelong friendship



When they were little, they used to run up and down Third Street's sidewalks, swing past the Russell Theater and round the corner onto Market Street. At the turn, a breeze would come up from the Ohio River, just a block away. There, they'd sometimes give their version of a Broadway show, with Blanchie Mae tapping and Rosie singing and people watching. If enough people saw fit to contribute to a good cause, the twosome gathered enough cash to hoof it down to the Delight and buy two 15-cent coneys. Or, if it was summer, they'd go to the Traxel or the Elite and get ice cream.

"Rosemary loved vanilla. I liked chocolate," says Blanche Chambers of her friend Rosemary Clooney. "I could sit on the stool with her, nobody made anything of it.''

Least of all Rosemary or Blanchie Mae. Of course, a lot of America in the late 1930s and early '40s might have thought it wrong that the two girls saw so much of each other -- one being white and the other being black -- but people in Maysville did not notice, or if they did, they did not bring it up.

Blanche Chambers is 80 now. Rosemary Clooney died three years ago and is still remembered by millions as one of the finest female vocalists of her time. But once upon a time, in this town, they had each other, two ornery younger sisters, a world to think about and a lot to talk about though "there wasn't a whole lot we knew about," says Chambers, who still lives in Maysville.

The fame the dramatic pair must have talked about found Rosemary. And at every turn in their lives, Rosemary asked Blanchie Mae, as she called her, to come join her. Sometimes she even begged.

"I knew it was not a life for me."

So Blanche Chambers stayed firmly planted in Maysville "to serve the Lord," she said. And from that perch and posture, she would watch, with glorious selflessness, the rise, the ruin and the resurrection of her best friend, Rosemary Clooney.

You could call it a love story and not be wrong.

'Wave and yell back'

When they were children and the movie house segregated the audience, Rosemary simply went upstairs and sat with Blanche in the "colored section."

When Rosemary came back to town in early 1953 for the Russell Theater premiere of her first film, The Stars Are Singing, there was to be a parade. Rosemary wanted Blanche in the convertible with her. Some city dignitaries said no, and Rosemary said, "Then no parade." Blanche rode up front. When Rosemary asked her what she should do, since the people were waving and yelling at her from the sidewalks, Blanche answered back, "Wave and yell back."

When Blanche -- "Rosie and my mother were the only people on God's green earth who called me Blanchie Mae," she said -- attended the Kentucky State Fair with Rosemary in 1959, some frowned on that closeness. So Blanche convinced Rosemary to explain that Blanche was her maid.

"She didn't want to do it, but she did," Blanche said.

Every place Rosemary went, says Blanche, "she made sure I went with her." So there were thousands of postcards and quite a few phone calls over the years. "But we didn't have to talk all the time to stay friends."

'Always the same girl'

Blanche is protective of the friendship even now. She has no showy glass case with remembrances of Rosemary in her home; she has a large plain brown envelope for that. She will not discuss anything about their lives that Rosemary hasn't already mentioned in interviews or books.

She will not let anyone into that place in her heart where the two of them still live. She loved Rosemary until her death because "she was always the same girl," Blanche said.

Rosemary was the little blonde girl who answered the door on Market Street when 10-year-old Blanche knocked, delivering a gift from the proprietor of the New Central Hotel. Blanche's mom, Lizzie, was a maid at the New Central, which was just across the street from the house where Rosemary lived most of the time. The girls never attended the same schools or went to the same church, but all the other hours they were together. On Sundays, Rosie's grandfather would take the girls on the trolley and go down to the train station so they could watch the people and trains come and go.

It was that grandfather who had taken Rosemary aside early on and explained that Blanche's mother had never been allowed to have much education and that that was wrong.

Rosemary left Maysville at 17 and became a singing sensation who knew Sinatra, Crosby and Hope well. She lived an exciting life and one, by her own admission, of trying to please others until she could no longer do it. In 1968, after being married to an unfaithful Jose Ferrer and after watching Robert F. Kennedy be assassinated inches from her, she succumbed to prescription drug addiction and was placed in a mental institution.

Even from there -- and afterward when Rosemary sang again to international acclaim -- she would reach out for Blanche.

Blanche says she was probably the only person Rosie didn't have to please.

No wonder Rosie loved her so fiercely.


Two other famous Kentuckians buy it, restore it


Posted on Fri, Sep. 30, 2005

They have the small ivory and brown piano that sat in Rosemary Clooney's movie-lot bungalow and on which somebody like, say, Bing Crosby laid his fingers and played a little White Christmas.

They have lobby cards for the Bob Hope-Rosemary Clooney film Here Come the Girls, a movie so bad Hope's wife wouldn't see it.

They have the tired white cotton lace dress Clooney's nephew's date wore to the Augusta High School junior prom, complete with obligatory smiling photo of the nephew and his date in the dress. Which is interesting because George Clooney looks so much better at age 44.

Still, all that stuff is in only one of several rooms to be opened to the public Saturday in Rosemary Clooney's last Kentucky home, an imposing, bright yellow pre-Civil War house on the banks of the Ohio River.

It's all been made possible by the considerable, and, as they describe it, obsessive efforts of former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry and his wife, Heather French Henry.

The Henrys' decision to buy the house in the first place was a result of their affection for Rosemary, and Heather's lifelong friendship with the family of Rosemary's brother Nick, who, like her, is from Augusta. When the then-condemned house was going on sale, Rosemary's children called the Henrys first. They bought it. A week later, the hearth fell into the basement.

The house was built in 1835. When several other houses on the block were burned by the Confederates, the yellow house was saved because, Heather says, "the story is a little girl played Dixie for them on the porch."

Now the house with the commanding view of the river has become a welcome obligation for the Henry family. No, Steve says, "it's an obsession."

Hunting down the fan

Take, for example, the matter of the fans used in White Christmas.

What the Henrys were really looking for were objects worn by Clooney or her co-stars in any number of Paramount films. So Steve called around to various friends in Hollywood to find the one who could help him. He mentioned the name Les Moonves to somebody and was told, "That'll get you somewhere."

Moonves, in addition to being president of CBS, is chief executive officer of the Viacom media conglomerate, which owns Paramount Pictures, which was for a time the studio Clooney worked for. Word went out and Randall Thropp from the studio's wardrobe department began to look everywhere for anything that may have come close to Rosemary Clooney.

White Christmas yielded a small bonanza.

Thropp found a mock-up of a coat worn by Clooney in the scene at the train station. He found the red robe Clooney wore when she first kissed Bing Crosby on screen. He found a military coat worn by Crosby in the film (it was discovered wadded up with a blouse worn by Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind). He found a deep green velvet dress -- the tag reads "Bust 36, Waist 23, Hips full" -- that Clooney wore to a cast party in the movie. It was perfect -- except the neckline had been modified with white lace, which Steve Henry painstakingly ripped out by hand.

Thropp found the white rhinestone gloves Clooney wore when she sang Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me. He found a cream-colored dress worn by co-star Vera Ellen. It was tagged for resale to a Los Angeles vintage clothing shop. A week later, the item would have been gone. Nothing from co-star Danny Kaye, however, was found.

Then came the day Thropp called and said he'd found a big blue feathered fan. The Henrys popped the White Christmas video in the player and began describing it. Yes, Thropp said, it had eight, maybe nine spokes. Bad news, though, it looked beaten up, he said.

That was great, said the Henrys, as Kaye and Crosby duel with the fans in the film.

It's really faded, Thropp said.

"Does it have rhinestones?" The Henrys held their breath.

"Why, yes, it does."

Today, the battered and faded blue fan is framed in a UV-protective case above the fireplace in the White Christmas room of the house, a place where the movie runs on a continuous loop so visitors, too, can spot the garments in their prime.

Soon after the fan was found -- and Paramount realized it had nothing whatsoever left from its 1994 film Forrest Gump -- a new policy went out at the studio. Due to the Rosemary Clooney Museum's efforts to find her memorabilia, it read, henceforth everything in the wardrobe department would be catalogued and archived properly.

Everything Clooney

Back in the house in Augusta, the odd amalgamation of all things Clooney is growing. A man is sending his collection of Clooney's 45s next week. A set of George Clooney's ER scrubs is coming. There's a sweet drawing of two birds and a worm made by a grandchild, "For Grammy, Form Gabi."

Steve Henry says the house is good for business in Augusta. With riverboats making a stop a few blocks away, it's an accessible $5 tourist attraction.

The first floor has been open since June. So far, 4,000 visitors have come through. The opening Saturday is for the remainder of the house, which includes a room upstairs for Heather French Henry's memorabilia from her year as Miss America 2000.

Stacked against the back of the house are salvaged materials from Clooney's home in Beverly Hills, Calif. Shutters, doors, ironwork, anything Steve could carry away from the house before it was demolished. Those items will be worked into the planned addition to the existing Augusta house, to give guests a flavor of Clooney's other home life.

It has all been a labor of love.

"Not really," corrected Henry, laughing. "We've just lost our minds. A lot of people might want to come see that."

kentucky.com - Posted on Fri, Sep. 30, 2005


Rosemary Clooney, 1928-2002

Considered among the finest jazz-based vocalists in American music, Maysville native Clooney had 13 top-40 hits in the early 1950s. In the mid-50s, she had her own variety television show. She married actor Jose Ferrer and had five children.

Clooney's best-known songs include Come On-A My House, From This Moment On, Hey There, Mambo Italiano, Tenderly, This Ole House and You Make Me Feel So Young. Her best-known films are White Christmas, Red Garters, Here Come The Girls, and The Stars Are Singing.

Rosemary Clooney-related events

Rosemary Clooney House grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony: 11 a.m. Saturday, 106 East Riverside Drive, Augusta.

In attendance: Former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry and Miss America 2000 Heather French Henry; Dante DiPaolo, Rosemary's widower; Nick and Nina Clooney, Rosemary's brother and sister-in-law; Chris and Gail Clooney Darley, Rosemary's sister and brother-in-law; Joan Barthel, co-author of Rosemary's autobiography, Girl Singer; DJ Rick Dees; Randall Thropp of Paramount Pictures; Augusta Mayor John Laycock; and Maysville Mayor David Cartmell.

Weekend hours of operation: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

Grand opening book signing by Joan Barthel: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, go to www.rosemary clooney.com/ house or call (614) 325-0879.

Rosemary Clooney Concert featuring Rita Coolidge: At the corner of Third and Market in Maysville, beginning at 5:30 p.m., various acts performing before the 90-minute Coolidge concert. Tickets range from $90 to $250 a person. Call Duff Giffen at (606) 564-9419 or Lundy's at 1-800-785-8639.

Clooney museum feels even more like home
Grand opening showcases growing memorabilia collection

By John Kiesewetter - Enquirer staff writer

Finally all the pieces are in place at the Rosemary Clooney House Museum.

Clooney's bed, wicker chair, nightstand, TV and even her phone are in her Augusta bedroom overlooking the Ohio River.

"It will be 95 percent the same as when she lived there," says Steve Henry, the former Kentucky lieutenant governor who owns the museum with his wife, Augusta native and former Miss America Heather French Henry.

Although open since June, the museum will be dedicated officially at 11 a.m. Saturday. Attending will be Clooney's husband, Dante DiPaolo; sister Gail and brother Nick; biographer Joan Barthel; and DJ Rick Dees. Clooney died in 2002.

The Henrys scheduled the opening to coincide with the annual Rosemary Clooney Concert in Maysville. Rita Coolidge headlines at 8 p.m. Saturday.

In four months, about 4,000 have toured the house where Clooney lived, on and off, since the 1980s. The Henrys bought the 1835 home last year.

One room is devoted to the largest display of memorabilia from "White Christmas," the beloved 1954 film starring Clooney, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Norwood native Vera-Ellen.

"When we started this in March, I thought we'd just have an item or two from her movies. This has exceeded by far what I thought it would be," Steve Henry says.

And the collection continues to grow. Actor George Clooney, Rosemary's nephew, donated his "ER" scrubs. Recently the Henrys purchased a cocktail dress worn in "White Christmas" and acquired film canisters from Clooney's "Red Garters" (1954).

A Clooney family tree was painted on a wall by Heather French Henry. Photos of the singer's Beverly Hills home - demolished last month - also have been added.

When the Henrys build an addition as their living quarters, some material will be from salvage from Clooney's California home.

"We brought back a truckload of things - bricks, beams, everything from the wrought iron fence down to the doorbell," Steve Henry says.

E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com

Public open house hosted by Ben Breslin (Rosemary's cousin), 219 E. Second St., Maysville, 8-11 p.m. Friday.

Museum grand opening, 106 E. Riverside Drive,

Augusta, 11 a.m. Saturday. Biographer Joan Barthel will sign copies of "Girl Singer" 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday. $5.

Rita Coolidge concert on Market Street, Maysville. Tickets $90-$250. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Saturday; dinner at 6:30 p.m. Reserve by 5 p.m. today by calling Abby Dobson, (800) 785-8639.

Clooney relatives and friends will talk about the singer during a 12-hour round-trip cruise to Augusta Sunday. Departs Covington Landing at 8 a.m. Includes museum tour. Fares (adults $79.95, children $50) include breakfast and dinner. Taxes and fees extra. Reservations: (859) 261-8500; www.bbriverboats.com.

Rosemary Clooney House Museum opening Saturday

By WENDY MITCHELL Staff Writer  - Monday, September 26, 2005 8:41 PM EDT


AUGUSTA -- It's Rosie time in Kentucky, Sept. 30 - Oct 2.

The long-awaited grand opening of the Rosemary Clooney House Museum is finally a reality for her family and visionaries Steve and Heather French Henry.

Several area events this weekend are centered around the music, movies and memories of Clooney, who called Augusta home.

On Friday, 8-11 p.m., the annual "Come On-A My House" open house will be held at the home of Rosemary's cousin, Ben Breslin at 219 East Second Street in Maysville.

Donations have been made to the benefit including those from Concord Records, Patsy's NYC Restaurant, the Jimmy Stewart Museum, the Lucy-Desi Museum, the Netherland Plaza Hilton, Caproni's Restaurant and the Autry National Center.

"A famous, anonymous donor will be matching the total amount raised from this benefit," said Steve Henry.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Rosemary Clooney House Museum, 106 East Riverside Drive, Augusta.

Festivities will be held in Maysville and Augusta over the weekend, but concentrate on the grand opening, Saturday morning.

At 11 a.m., Saturday, the grand opening and ribbon cutting will be held at the Rosemary Clooney House Museum in Augusta.

Members of Rosemary Clooney's family, including her husband, Dante DiPaolo, brother and sister-in-law, Nick and Nina Clooney and sister and brother-in-law, Gail and Chris Darley are scheduled to attend the ceremony, plus celebrities like Rick Dees, entertainment industry executive Randall Thropp of Paramount Pictures and state and local politicians.

Joan Barthel, author of Girl Singer will also be there and has included a book signing reception at the museum. Museum hours will be open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition to the White Christmas room, the first floor of the museum contains Bob Mackie designs for several of Rosemary's concert/performance gowns, original director scripts and a preview of the building materials secured from the recent demolition of Rosemary's Beverly Hills home that will be incorporated into an addition planned for 2006.

On the second floor of the home, which will be opened to the public, Rosemary's bedroom with her actual bed, linens, furniture and some personal affects will be on display.

"It has been put back together pretty much the way Rosemary left it," said Henry.

Across the hall, guests will be able to visit the Miss America room which will display Heather's gowns, crowns and memorabilia from her days as Miss Kentucky and Miss America 2000.

As an added attraction for visitors, the Belle of Cincinnati riverboat will be docking in front of the museum at the Augusta Riverwalk at about 1 p.m., Sunday. The cruise boards in Cincinnati at 7 a.m. and returns to Cincinnati about 7 p.m.

The museum will be open on weekends and by appointment.

For information on the event call 614-325-0879 or go to TRCH@rosemaryclooney.com.

Contact Wendy Mitchell at wendy.mitchell@lee.net or call 564-9091, ext. 370.