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Happy Birthday, George Clooney, Award-Winning Actor and Activist

May 06, 2010
by findingDulcinea Staff
Before 2000, most would have thought George Clooney a victim of his good looks. However, more challenging roles have revealed his true talents. Today, Hollywood honors Clooney's abilities as an actor, writer, producer and director. He has also established himself as a devoted advocate for Darfur.

George Clooney’s Early Days

George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Ky., to a family already familiar with the limelight: George's mother Nina was a former beauty queen, his father Nick was a Cincinnati newscaster and talk show host, his aunt was famed singer Rosemary Clooney, and his uncle was actor Jose Ferrer. As a child, he would often join his father on set, dressing up in various costumes for the show, according to Tiscali.

Clooney was a star on his high school baseball team, and even tried out for the Cincinnati Reds before attending Northern Kentucky University. George's actor cousin Miguel Ferrer got him a small role in a film, and with that, sealed Clooney's future. In 1982, Clooney left Kentucky for Hollywood with $300 to his name.

Clooney’s Notable Accomplishments

Clooney spent a year living in his friend's walk-in closet and working various jobs, including a stint as a door-to-door insurance salesman. Then he began picking up roles on various pilots and a string of sitcoms, including “Roseanne.” His big break came in 1994, when he scored the role of Dr. Doug Ross in a new television drama, “ER.”

In a 1996 interview with the New York Daily News, Clooney said he was much more successful than he ever dreamed, but admitted that his hectic work schedule made it difficult to maintain his personal life. On “ER,” Clooney made the ladies swoon over his rugged good looks and also earned two Emmy nominations for his performance.

Having proven himself on the small screen, the actor went looking for movie roles. He was involved in a number of films during the latter part of the 1990s and his first notable performance came in the 2000 Coen brothers film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

The lead role of Everett showcased Clooney's skills as an actor and won him his first Golden Globe. In 2001, a remake of the Sinatra classic “Ocean's Eleven” paired Clooney with a star-studded cast that included Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. A hit at the box office, the film spawned two sequels.

In 2006, Clooney was immensely successful. He was nominated for three Oscar awards: one for “Syriana” and two for “Good Night, and Good Luck,” a retelling of TV journalist Edward R. Murrow's battle with Senator Joseph McCarthy, which Clooney wrote, directed and acted in. Clooney won Best Supporting Actor for the political thriller, “Syriana,” which also earned him a Golden Globe.

The Rest of the Story

His roles in these two films and his public stand against various aspects of America's foreign policy have caused some to dub him one of Hollywood's most prominent “actor-vists,” explains a 2005 article from the British newspaper The Observer.

Clooney has become an outspoken advocate of Darfur, traveling to the troubled area in an attempt to draw both media and government attention. In March 2009, he traveled in Darfur with NBC journalist Ann Curry, and discussed his role as a United Nations Messenger of Peace. “I come back … for the same reason I think you come back. If there is any chance you can shine a light on it, and if you don't, it's irresponsible,” he told Curry.

Clooney teamed up with his father to tackle the Darfur issue, attempting to combine his dad's journalistic skills with his own fame to raise awareness of the crisis that has resulted in more than two million deaths. They produced a short film about their trip to the border of Chad and Sudan called “Journey to Darfur.”

In February, Clooney visited with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss bringing peace to the Darfur region. Clooney said troops and money were not what was needed. “It's about needing what we do best—what we have done best since the start of this country—which is good, robust diplomacy all across the world,” he told the press.

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