four girls sang into womanhood
Don't be fooled. Four Girls
Four is really Four Women Four. Rosemary
Clooney, Rose Marie, Helen O'Connell and
Margaret Whiting have been around since
the 40s, which makes them, as Damon Runyon
used to say, more than somewhat.
But maturity does wonders for some talents.
Clooney and Whiting, for example, were always
fine singers but their voices in recent
years have taken on an authority and range
that was not always so evident.
"We have mellowed as women, we have
mellowed as singers," observes the
articulate Whiting. We know a lot more than
we did when we started."
Clooney hears a deeper shading in her
voice than in yesteryear. "I think
it's a richer type of thing. I still have
the notes on top but there's a bottom I
never had before. take "Tenderly."
I sing it today in the same key I sang it
in years ago but the top notes seem to have
a depth they never had before."
Four women four. They were and are all
stars in their own right -- O'Connell with
Jimmy Dorsey at first and later TV hostess
of "The Today Show" and the Miss
Universe Contest; Rose Marie a singer-comedienne
in pre-school days, then a five-year veteran
of the "Dick Van Dyke Show" and
a regular on "Hollywood Squares."
Clooney came out of Tony Pastor's band to
star in movies and TV. Whiting has successfully
walked over almost every show business path
Whiting seems a perpetual Pollyanna.
As Clooney says in a mixture of admiration
and mock exasperation: "She is up and
cheerful all the time. Just one time I'd
like her to say, 'I don't feel so hot this
morning.' I'd like her to be just a little
bit human like the rest of us."
Whiting appears to have no time for tears.
She is an ebullient, take-charge talker.
Just say "Hello Mag," and she's
good for an hour. Henny Youngman couldn't
shoehorn in a one-liner. She is full of
memories and commentary, much of which is
witty and persceptive. I have seen this
round dynamo work an audience professional
on stage and socially off. Though a woman
of considerable sophistication, she can
come on like Mrs. Dubuque and it works.
Naturally, she's the opening shot of the
"Her voice sweeps through an auditorium
of any size," swears Clooney. "Just
sweeps it clean. Margaret has a New York
musical comedy approach to everything. She
comes in like an oveture."
Clooney should know. The four spent nine
weeks on the road last year and will up
it to 30 this year. That's plenty of time
to get in someone else's hair but the four
spin merrily along like the musketeers with
an act that hums like a well-greased machine.
After Whiting has grabbed the audience,
her partners do their own singles, Rose
Marie serves up comedy with song. Clooney
and O'Connell are all song. It's a melange
of material -- Clooney's "Tenderly"
and "Come On A My House" and O'Connell's
"Tangerine" from the old days
mixed with songs of more recent vintage.
The four wrap it up with an ensemble finale.
They open at the Westbury Music Fair
tonight and sing through Sunday in their
first New York engagement. No, it won't
be the exact same stuff they've sund all
over the country.
"I guess we get bored with our material
pretty fast," Clooney says. "We
change it frequently to keep it fresh. Even
if it's only putting in one new song a show."
So here they are. Fresh -- from Baltimore.