MAYSVILLE, Ky. — Rosemary Clooney made a final journey to her hometown Friday for a funeral attended by family, friends and hundreds of fans.
The mellow-voiced singer and actress, who co-starred with Bing Crosby in "White Christmas" and staged a dramatic comeback after drugs and alcohol nearly destroyed her career, died June 29 at 74 after a long battle with lung cancer.
More than 700 people packed into St. Patrick's Church downtown, where Clooney was baptized, to say farewell to the city's sweetheart who never forgot her roots. Many waited for hours for a seat, and by 9 a.m.--an hour before the service--the line snaked outside for more than a block.
"Everything she did, you felt like you were a part of it," said Debbie Roberts of Maysville, who got the first spot in line about 6 a.m.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday July 10, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 10 inches; 382 words Type of Material: Correction
Clooney funeral--In a Section A story Saturday on Rosemary Clooney's funeral, the name of Clooney's daughter-in-law, singer Debby Boone, was misspelled.
"When you knew she was in town, it was exciting to walk into places and do that quick eyeball around to see if she was there. There was always that little bit of anticipation in your stomach no matter how many times you'd seen her."
Father William Hinds described Clooney as "disarmingly comical and frank."
"She was 'the girl singer,' beloved by the people," Hinds said. "We've lost a star, a light that shone brightly into all of our lives."
Her brother, veteran television newscaster Nick Clooney, gave a eulogy at the end of the hourlong Roman Catholic funeral Mass.
"Let me do something I never would have presumed to do a week ago--speak for Rosemary ... dangerous," he said. "She would like to thank all of you for making her life richer."
Actor George Clooney, Nick's son, sat with more than three dozen family members and was one of 10 pallbearers.
Also in the crowd were singer Debbie Boone, Clooney's daughter-in-law; actors Al Pacino and Beverly D'Angelo; and Maysville native and former Miss America Heather French Henry, the wife of Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Henry.
After the service, Clooney was buried at St. Patrick's Cemetery near her mother and grandmother.
Mourners said they often saw Clooney shopping for groceries or strolling the streets whenever she returned to the river town of 8,900 near the Kentucky-Ohio border.
She frequented Delite's, a restaurant known for its Coney Island hot dogs, and was a regular at Magee's Bakery and a downtown jewelry store.