In the first half of the 1950s Rosemary Clooney vied for popularity with such other leading female recording artists as Doris Day, Patti Page, Jo Stafford, Kay Starr and Peggy Lee. Rosemary had been born in Kentucky in May of 1928. By the time she was fifteen her parents had separated and she and her mother opted to live in California.
Although Rosemary had been recording on the Columbia label since 1946, her career as a solo artist did not really materialise until “Come On-A My House” spent eight weeks atop the American charts, in 1951. Similarly successful hits followed. These included “Half As Much”(1952), “Botch-A-Me (Ba-Ba-Baciami Piccina)”(1952), “Hey There”(1954), “This Ole House”(1954) — revived by the Welsh rocker, Shakin’ Stevens, in 1981 — and “Mambo Italiano”.
“Mambo Italiano”, written by the prolific Bob Merrill, has been covered by numerous artists over the years. One of the later versions is by Lady Gaga. Madonna performs “Come On A-My House” to her ‘master’ whilst they are marooned on an island in ‘Swept Away’, a film produced in 2002. A modernised version of the song also accompanies the ‘Girls Of The Playboy Mansion’ television series.
Rosemary also tasted success with “Too Old To Cut The Mustard”, a duet recorded, in 1952, with Marlene Dietrich. In 1954, she appeared in the film, “White Christmas”, with Bing Crosby,who had had the smash single of the same name twelve years earlier.
Rosemary, while she continued to record and perform, became increasingly dependant upon pills. Nevertheless, it was to be lung cancer that eventually claimed her life, in June of 2002, at the age of seventy-four.
The names of Rosemary Clooney’s other hits can be located in the suggested playlists. While you are there, you may care to peruse the list of my favourite recordings. I will be adding more to it from time to time.