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Girl Singer: An Autobiography Paperback – October 9, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (October 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767905555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767905558
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #863,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Girl Singer is that rarity, an entertainer's autobiography that sidesteps the usual cash-in maneuvers, instead earning the label of memoir. Rosemary Clooney, of course, is the 1950s pop sweetheart ("Come On-a My House," a song she detested) turned 1960s nervous-breakdown casualty and, finally, comeback kid with a well-loved interpretive style. She recalls a hectic childhood spent mostly under the wing of her grandmother, who was better equipped than her parents to raise Rosemary, sister Betty, and brother Nick. The memories are often seen through a filter of tough poetry, as in this vivid passage:

"One very cold winter day, when I was five and Betty just about two, we got dressed up in one of our aunts' long dresses. 'Now we have to go down to the river,' I told Betty, 'because we're going on a long trip, and we have to wait by the river till the boat comes.'

"Betty skidded down the slick grading into the river. The dark water closed above her head.

"I leaned over, grabbed her hand, and dragged her out. She wasn't crying, just coughing and sputtering. I got her home and into the bathtub and then dried off, all by myself--my mother had told me I would manage, I would be able to do whatever had to be done."

Near the height of her fame, Clooney herself became the mother of five, as well as the long-suffering wife of actor José Ferrer, who cheated on her early and often. Another romance, with arranger Nelson Riddle, was both her happiest and most turbulent; she remembers Riddle divorcing his first wife and then abruptly marrying his secretary. By 1968, Clooney was suffering prescription drug-induced delusions, imagining a month after his assassination that her friend Bobby Kennedy was still alive and ready to deliver a "lesson for me... to teach the American people." After several false starts, she broke her addiction and made a comeback that's seen her garner several Grammy nominations (and laugh about losing each time to pal Tony Bennett). Hard-won peace may be a cliché, but Girl Singer demonstrates it as the 71-year-old girl singer's truth. --Rickey Wright --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Clooney made her singing debut at age 13 on a Cincinnati radio station in 1941. By 1946, she and her younger sister Betty had both dropped out of high school to tour with the Tony Pastor Band. After three years on the road, she went solo and on the eve of her 21st birthday signed a contract with Columbia Records. Against her better judgment, she recorded "Come On-a My House" ("The lyrics ranged from incoherent to just plain silly. I thought the tune sounded more like a drunken chant than an historic folk art form") for Mitch Miller; it was such a success that she was able to parlay it into a movie contract with Paramount. Her marriage to actor-director Jose Ferrer produced five children (in as many years) and a high-profile, career-smashing nervous breakdown in 1968. But for Clooney, there was a happy ending: she was reunited with the love she had dumped 20 years before and her revived recording career brought her greater critical acclaim. Clooney told her story in 1977's This for Remembrance (with Raymond Strait), and while this retelling offers some new revelations (an affair with Nelson Riddle) and fresh assessments of contemporaries like Sinatra, Crosby and Billie Holiday, many sequences read almost exactly the same. Even with 20 years hindsight, most of the crucial events in her life remain hazy and questions unanswered: why she stayed with philandering Ferrer (let alone remarried him), what caused her breakdown and fueled her antagonistic relationship with her mother. Fans will probably enjoy this surface review of her career, but the woman remains an enigma. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Warm, funny and very well written.
june
More pictures (including one of the Great Dane, Cuddles,) would have been nice, but the set is a treat.
TundraVision
It lets you know exactly what her life was like.
Gocho

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Barden on December 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In her closing night performance last October ('99) at the Regency Hotel in NY, Ms. Clooney offered that "Girl Singer" was written in a more disclosive voice than her earlier autobiography. She went on to admit that she could take that liberty since most of the folks she's writing about are no longer around to protest! The audience roared!
Reading the well-crafted "Girl Singer" does not, however, leave you with the feeling that you are an after-the-fact voyeur to her well publicized tribulations of the past. While her frankness about personal and professional relationships is stunning, it is done with a complete lack of bitterness and histrionics. You are left convinced that difficult times aside, Ms. Clooney life has always centered around love of her family and her music. Her honest self-criticism is admirable.
"Girl Singer" will leave you with the feeling that you just spend hours reading a diary you discovered by chance on a lonely bench in Central Park. You begin, not sure whether you should intrude so boldly upon someone's privacy but quickly find that you cannot put it down... all the time afraid it's owner might return looking for it and admonish you for being so nosy.
Go ahead... read it. She left it there for you.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen on March 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The most amazing thing about this book is its utterly non-judgmental tone---one feels that Ms. Clooney is truly at peace with the events and people in her past, and delighted to be in the present. Though it's obvious that her biological parents neglected her and her siblings (and her half-siblings as well), her life nevertheless unfolds as an engrossing story, peopled sometimes with family and friends who were perhaps not without their faults, but were utterly human. I must admit I did not always agree with her viewpoint; I would have preferred that she refrain from commenting on how her children felt about her apparently drug-related psychosis and its fallout,rather than stating that it didn't affect most of them very much. This, for me, was the one tear in the fabric of the book's complete credibility; it's not that I want to know about this, I just don't believe it could be true of any child. But the rest of it, particularly the childhood vignettes involving her, her sister Betty, and her brother Nicky, were compelling in their drama, tenderness, and especially their humor. I couldn't stop giggling at the pictures some of them presented. The whole book was a series of colorful mind-pictures, making the photographs almost unnecessary. And the details concerning the history of pop music in her time were woven in seamlessly, providing interesting tidbits without derailing the book's purpose.I've been a fan since childhood, but I think even non-fans would like this book for its candor, humor, and sense of the strength ( and challenges) a family can give.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By lkboice on January 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Rosemary Clooney was brave to write such a wonderful book. I appreciate her frankness and her ability to share her most intimate feelings, even though it's really none of our business. And she is so forthcoming in revealing her own errors in judgement. I cried, as I didn't want the book to end, just as I never want her to leave us. Her book is a treasure for which I learn how to live my own life. What an example of recovery and how to travel the road toward peace. Don't walk, but RUN and get this book!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By TundraVision on August 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
Rosemary Clooney's life wasn't all a picnic in the Park. Her autobiography is straightforward - like herself, it is not grandiose, but it is no shrinking violet, either. While reading this book, I also got "Songs from the Girl Singer: a musical autobiography " a 2 CD set. Like Girranimals, the similarly titled companion pieces have the same picture on the front so that the purchaser will know that they go together. Buy `em both, they won't disappoint!
Her life and music are all here - without gloss or pretension. And from her debut with sister Betty, with a local Cincinnati big band, to her meteoric rise to solo national celebrity for "Come On-a My House," a song she never really liked, to sing with Bing in "White Christmas," to the ascension of Rock & Roll (which, she said at the time "wiped out music as we know it,") to her resultant (?) breakdown and triumphant "comeback," to her introduction to a new TV viewing generation as the Coronet Paper Towel lady, to her appearance with nephew George Clooney on ER, Rosemary never learned to read music!
More pictures (including one of the Great Dane, Cuddles,) would have been nice, but the set is a treat. Get it! God Bless You, Rosemary. 5/23/28 - 6/30/2002
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book delights on many levels! It's a must-read for any Clooney fan, full of rich detail and honest reflections on her life, both personal and musical. But it also works as an illuminating history of the eras in which she lived, from big band to the golden age of Hollywood to the rise of rock and roll to the resurgence of swing. Most of all, the voice her audiences love comes through loud and clear.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I've always been crazy about Rosemary Clooney! I have all her albums and CD's---she deserves a long overdue Grammy or two! Her book written with Joan Barthel is wonderful--funny, engrossing and like her extraordinary singing--addictive! Highly recommended!
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