George Clooney. Golden Globe winner. Destroyer of the Batman franchise. 1997 recipient of People Magazine's prestigious "Sexiest Man Alive" award. Repopularizer of the Caesar haircut.
Is there anything this man hasn't done? And all in less than ten years.
Yes indeed, it is hard to believe that it was only in 1994 that the nation first took Mr. Clooney to its bosom, finally allowing Alan Alda to retire from the post of America's Favorite Doctor.
But let us begin at the beginning. George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in the great state of Kentucky. His father, a newscaster named Nick Clooney, was the brother of pop songstress Rosemary Clooney. At the age of 16, Clooney tried out for the Cincinnati Reds but was passed over for other, more talented players. Undaunted, he went on to Northern Kentucky University, after which he moved to Los Angeles in 1982 to try to break into showbiz. In 1984, he got a part in a TV series called E/R that would utterly fail to catapult him to stardom. (This may be ironic--I'm never quite sure.)
Anyway, Clooney slogged through ten years of made-for-TV and B movies (appearing in one as "Lip Syncing Transvestite"), occasionally appearing on a hit sitcom, until his real break came along--the gripping hospital drama ER ! We may never know what made the difference--perhaps leaving out the slash--but for whatever reason, ER was a stunning success, joining Seinfeld and Friends as the mainstays of NBC's Thursday night prime-time juggernaut "Must See TV". In his role as Dr. Doug Ross, Clooney charmed his way into the hearts of women and/or men all over America, and the rest was history.
Or was it?
As all TV stars must, George began to yearn for the verdant pastures of feature films. He began with a bizarre vampire-or-something movie called From Dusk Till Dawn, a vaguely Tarantino-related (oh, all right, he wrote and starred in it) project that caused general bewilderment among critics but wasn't seen by enough people to really do much harm or good to his career. He then made a forgettable romantic comedy and an insipid action movie, putting him straight on track to A-List stardom.
And what could be more quintessentially A-List than the role of The New Batman? Though Val Kilmer was by far the best Batman, according to rumor he was far too difficult to work with and The Powers that Be were looking for a new Caped Crusader. Enter George Clooney. He was at the perfect point in his career--very well known from television, but not yet enough of a movie star that he would be prohibitively expensive. (Still, he was paid ten million dollars, more than three times his salary for The Peacemaker.) With the combination of Uma Thurman as the villainess/seductress and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the bad guy, it seemed like a sure bet, but the studio, shockingly, did not reckon with the sheer awfulness of the script, and not even the American Public was willing to shell out enough cash to quite cover the $110 million it cost to make. (The overseas grosses, however, did put it squarely into the realm of profitability).
At this point, conventional wisdom had Clooney in the David Caruso or Matt LeBlanc category of TV actors who tried and failed to become movie stars, but his explosive sexual chemistry with Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight and Mark Wahlberg in Three Kings soon put him back in the game.
In 2000, he won a Golden Globe award for his role in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and in 2001 appeared in Ocean's Eleven with such "shimmering, glowing stars in the cinema firmament" as Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, events which definitely mark him as Hollywood royalty of the moment. He has produced a few films, including Rock Star, and made his directorial debut with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind which came out in 2003. Though he is often compared to Cary Grant, it remains to be seen whether Clooney will have as memorable and legendary a career.
Sources: IMDb.com, Biography.com