Billy Reed: bond with family makes admiration for George Clooney even more special


George Clooney is perhaps my favorite actor. He chooses good roles and plays them well. But there is also the fact that I have a connection with his family.

In the fall of 1958, as I was starting my sophomore year at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, a local television station, WLEX-TV, decided to launch a Saturday morning television show modeled on American Bandstand. , the hugely popular Philadelphia-based network television show.

The host of the show was a handsome young man named Dick Clark. He played some of the popular songs of the time for teenagers who came to the studio to dance.

Billy Reed is a member of the United States Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Athlete Hall of Fame, and the University of Transylvania. He has been named Kentucky’s Sports Writer of the Year eight times and has won the Eclipse Award three times. Reed has written on a multitude of sporting events for over four decades and is perhaps one of the Kentucky Derby’s most knowledgeable writers. His book “Last of a BReed” is available on Amazon.

Between songs, he interviewed them about their schools, their friends and their tastes. Some of the regulars have become national celebrities to millions of viewers.

To be our local Dick Clark, the station hired Nick Clooney, who was best known as the younger brother of singer Rosemary Clooney.

His hits from the late 1940s and early 1950s included “Come On-a my House”, “Hey, There” and “Tenderly”. She also starred with Bing Crosby in the movie “White Christmas”.

Nick was 24 when he started working at Lexington. I won’t say I was a regular on his Saturday morning show, but we became friends mainly thanks to the curiosity of my young reporter.

On May 6, 1961, the month I graduated from high school, Nick and his wife Nina had a son they named George. He was born in Lexington.

I lost touch with Nick after high school, but followed his career through various media. He and Nina bought a large house in Augusta overlooking the Ohio River, and one day in the mid-1970s I arrived there to interview them for one of my general columns in The Courier-Journal.

At the time, George would be around 14, but I can’t remember if I saw him that day. He graduated from Augusta High in 1979 and attended both the University of Northern Kentucky and the University of Cincinnati, having no degrees.

He did a lot of menial work – selling women’s shoes, building, cutting tobacco – before making his screen debut in 1978 as an extra in the television miniseries Centennial, which was filmed in part at Augusta.

I lost track of him until he became a regular on the NBC ER medical drama from 1994 to 1999. Then came the movies, one hit after another, until he became one of the America’s most popular actors. Her co-stars included Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez and Michelle Pfeiffer.

George Clooney was the recipient of a 2021 Freedom Conductor Award from the National Underground Railroad and Freedom Center in Cincinnati. His wife, Amal, was also honored.

Everything George does is good, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. But I really liked, “Oh, brother, where are you? He was one of the Foggy Mountain Boys. The film has some main lines in it.

George is taller than his father, who has always been a stylish little guy, but I can see Nick in George’s face well. In college, George developed a case of Bell’s palsy, a medical condition that partially paralyzes the face. He was gone in nine months.

As George once told interviewer Larry King, “It’s probably a good thing it’s happening to me because it made me laugh at myself. And I think that’s an important part of being famous. The pranks should be directed at you.

In April 2006, George and Nick spent 10 days in Chad and Sudan to produce the special “A Journey to Dayfur”, reflecting the plight of the Dayfur refugees and calling for action.

Nick and Nina still live in Augusta. I don’t know if they would remember me, but maybe someone will show them this column and I’ll hear from them.

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