So many costumes, so many stories. There are the most famous blue dresses two singing sisters ever donned, along with one of the blue-feathered fans Betty and Judy Haynes waved as they sang,
“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters,” the first time song-and-dance men Bob Wallace and Phil Davis laid eyes on them.
These pieces, along with Betty’s white rhinestone gloves, Judy’s leopard hat, and Bob’s military uniform—all worn in the 1954 holiday classic White Christmas—help convey the narrative of one of the world’s most famous and enduring singers and Augusta’s most beloved daughter, Rosemary Clooney.
The costumes are showcased at the Rosemary Clooney House, the Augusta home where the award-winning entertainer lived for more than 20 years. They are joined by her original bedroom furniture—donated by her brother, Nick Clooney, and his wife, Nina—and personal items, like a Fabergé egg she had given to her best friend, the late Blanche Mae Chambers.
Other prized items in the museum include costumes from Rosemary’s famous nephew, actor and director George Clooney, from Monuments Men, Leatherheads, and O, Brother, Where Art Thou?; actress Anna Maria Alberghetti, from The Stars are Singing, Rosemary’s first movie; and her dear friend Bob Hope, Here Come the Girls.
“People are fascinated to see the dungarees George Clooney wore in O, Brother and Bob Hope’s costumes, because he’s still so revered,” says Dr. Steve Henry. He and his wife, former Miss America Heather French Henry, created a nonprofit foundation to preserve Clooney’s house, which opened to the public in 2005. “The real highlights are the ‘Sisters’ dresses and the fan.”
The museum is constantly adding pieces, such as the recently acquired brown suit with fur collar and cuffs Rosemary wore as Betty Haynes in the train scene in White Christmas.
“People still love Rosemary’s music,” says Henry. “They know her as a great vocalist and also know White Christmas. Her voice is very distinctive and she still sells lots of recordings.”