When George Clooney left Northern Kentucky University to make his way in Hollywood some 30 years ago, his dad, broadcaster Nick Clooney, was concerned. He wanted George, youngest of two, to have a profession to fall back on. Nick need not have worried. Though George was the nephew of singer Rosemary Clooney (and lived with her family when he first arrived in Los Angeles), he made his own way — working in many a failed TV pilot or series before racking up the successes that would lead to movie stardom. Clooney celebrated his 50th birthday on May 6. Here's a look at his evolving career.
Facts of Life (1985)
Clooney is young and cute in the NBC sitcom about a bunch of girls and their housemother. George plays a contractor, also named George, who is around a lot. He was a regular and a recurring character for two seasons. His most admired quality at the time may have been his hair.
Clooney was cast in ABC's Roseanne as Roseanne Barr's factory boss, Booker. It was a comedy but there was much drama on the set between Barr and her co-creator-producer. Clooney was happy to be gone by the second season.
By the time he was a player on the NBC drama Sisters, Clooney had become head-turning handsome. He played a detective who meets Sela Ward's character — and gets involved — when he's investigating an assault on her daughter. Alas, his character is killed off, just in time for him to join the cast of an ensemble hospital drama NBC would take a chance on, ER.
ER was not Clooney's show. Anthony Edwards was first on the actors' call sheet every day, the de facto leader of the troops. Clooney, whose ability to make women swoon was becoming increasingly apparent, was a loyal soldier and good friend to his cast mates, particularly Edwards, Noah Wyle and his on-again, off-again TV love, Julianna Marguilies.
As pediatrician Doug Ross, Clooney was a tender-hearted womanizer who continually got himself in trouble with hospital authorities as he tried to do right by his little patients. Who wouldn't love a man like that? By the end of his five-year contract with ER, Clooney was making movies but he never considered trying to get out early.