Saturday, November 8, 1997
Town stands up at Clooney wedding
800 guests toast newlyweds with White Castles

BY JIM KNIPPENBERG
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MAYSVILLE, Ky. - No one in the area needed to ask ''Which wedding?'' Friday. There was only one: that of Rosemary Clooney and her longtime partner Dante DiPaolo.

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Rosemary Clooney leaves the church with her new husband, Dante DiPaolo.
(Gary Landers photo)
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As wedding guest Jean Everett said: ''Rosemary's more important today than Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton.''

More than 800 people including Ms. Clooney's five children and many of her grandchildren, friends and well-wishers crammed into St. Patrick's Church at 11 a.m. Friday. They watched the city's most famous export exchange vows with the man she met on the set of the 1953 film Here Come the Girls.

About 200 guests (and no, in answer to the question, nephew George Clooney was a no show) then headed 20 miles west to Augusta, Ky., for a riverside reception under a sprawling white tent.

There, show business royalty mingled with hometown friends, lunching on country ham, Montgomery Inn ribs and White Castle hamburgers, often called sliders by their devotees.

White Castles?

''Well, because we all love them,'' a smiling Ms. Clooney said, seated next to a silver tray holding six burgers, a bottle of Champagne and a dozen long-stem white roses. ''It's just the way we are.''

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The crowd cheered as Bob Hope entered the church with his wife, Dolores, and his personal assistant, J. Dennis Paulin.
(Gary Landers photo)
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It was a major day for gawking. When Bob and Dolores Hope walked into church (about 15 minutes late because of plane problems, causing a delay in the ceremony) they received a standing ovation.

''OK, Rosemary, top that,'' said brother Nick Clooney.

Later, the Hopes stayed to eat ribs and mingle with reception guests until late afternoon. Singer - pianist Michael Feinstein, talking to a knot of admirers, said he wouldn't have missed the day for anything.

Ms. Clooney's daughter-in-law Debbie Boone smiled widely for pictures with anyone who asked.

Superstar fashion designer Bob Mackie gave the food a curious look but still dug in.

Longtime Clooney music director John Oddo and, wife, Eileen, stuck close to the tent's heater, leaving only to get seconds on White Castles. ''You can't get these in New York anymore,'' Ms. Oddo said.

Former New York governor Hugh Carey just smiled when another New Yorker said the same thing.

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Debbie Boone, Ms. Clooney's daughter-in-law, eats a White Castle.
(Gary Landers photo)
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Through it all, hosts Nick and Nina Clooney, both getting hoarse as the party wore on, greeted guests, bused tables, ran for more Champagne, found garbage bags and did everything necessary to keep the party going.

This was a crowd of contrasts: Women in Keds with canvas purses chatted it up with women in Ferragamos with Chanel bags slung over their shoulders. Men in Armani suits and Versace shirts shared ribs and laughs with men in sport coats.

Both Ms. Clooney, 69, and Mr. DiPaolo, 72, dressed conservatively. She wore a deep green velvet dress that hung to mid-calf. He was in a dark suit, white shirt and tie.

The ceremony was a 60-minute Catholic Mass. The couple entered together from behind the altar. They exchanged vows in faltering voices this close to tears in the same church where Ms. Clooney was baptized, attended first grade and first sang in public.

The only other time Ms. Clooney shed tears was when a children's choir came to the altar and sang Mozart's ''Agnus Dei.''

''It's my gift to you, Rosemary,'' said the Rev. William Hinds, the priest who celebrated the Mass. ''I know it takes a lot of nerve to sing in front of Rosemary Clooney, but we have plenty of nerve here.''

Ms. Clooney dabbed her eyes through most of the song, as did many on the guest list.

Besides the entertainers, Ms. Clooney invited 200 friends and the entire town of Augusta (pop. 1,336) to the church, which by 10:30 a.m. was surrounded by celeb watchers.

Ms. Clooney invited a good deal of Cincinnati as well: Bob and Wray Jean Braun; former Channel 5 entertainer Colleen Sharp Murray and husband, Mike; big band singer Mary Ellen Tanner; drummer John Von Ohlen; keyboardist Lee Stolar, who played for the reception; TV exec Don Dahlman and wife, Babs; WCPO-TV sports anchor Denny Janson; Procter & Gamble vice president Bob Wehling.

The newlyweds will spend a few days in Augusta, where Ms. Clooney owns a home and where she'll sing today (3 p.m.) at the dedication of a park she and her family donated to the city.