George Clooney Studied Broadcast Journalism in College, but Dropped out Because He Hated Constant Comparisons to His Father

For decades, George Clooney has gathered an extensive list of acting credits, and it would be difficult for fans to imagine other people playing some of his roles. Before he made it onto television, however, he went to a college for a different field of study entirely. That’s because George Clooney initially wanted to have a career in broadcast journalism — but he dropped out because of constant comparisons to his father.

George Clooney studied broadcast journalism in college before dropping out

George Clooney
George Clooney | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Turner

After attending high school in Augusta, Ky., George Clooney enrolled in Northern Kentucky University, where he majored in broadcast journalism during his time at the university, according to Biography.com.

The inspiration for his college major likely came from his father, Nick Clooney, a well-known journalist and anchorman. During dinners, Clooney’s family would discuss current events. As a child, he followed his dad around the newsroom, and he got into social activism. His father admired news anchors like Edward R. Murrow, so Clooney likely got inspired by hearing about those men.

In 1981, Clooney dropped out of school and had to figure out what he would do next. One reason was that he had doubts that he would make a decent journalist on TV. He also did not like people comparing him to his father, as many people recognized the name, and the comparisons got tiring. Still, Clooney would stick around the Cincinnati area for a while.

George Clooney once tried out for the Cincinnati Reds

Many celebrities have different ambitions before they become known for their acting talents. Prior to Clooney turning into a household name as an actor, he tried to be a sports athlete first. In high school, he played varsity baseball, and he had aspirations of joining a professional team.

Since Clooney grew up near Cincinnati, he loved the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. At the age of 16, he managed to get the opportunity to try out for the Cincinnati Reds. Even though he and his friends thought he had a chance, he did not score a contract with the team.

In an interview, Clooney acknowledged that he lacked the skills needed to be a professional player. It would seem that his destiny did not involve baseball. College was Clooney’s next choice. Of course, it would not pan out as he had hoped.

For some time, Clooney did a couple of jobs to get by — working as a shoe salesman and even picking tobacco on a farm — until he decided on another career path.

Here’s how George Clooney broke into acting

Clooney got the acting bug when his cousin and uncle came to Kentucky to make a film. They invited him on the set as an extra. The experience caused him to become interested in acting. In fact, Clooney’s cousin suggested that he move to California to be an actor.

While Clooney wanted film roles, he slowly landed small parts in TV shows. His first major role was Ace in a sitcom called E/R. He later scored another recurring character in the series The Facts of Life from 1985 to 1987. While the fledgling actor looked for auditions, he pretended to be his own agent.

Clooney would hype himself up to casting directors, and he succeeded. Eventually, he would find his big break in the hospital drama ER. For 15 seasons, Clooney played Dr. Doug Ross and rose to international stardom.

Later, Clooney would transition to film. Among the movies he’s known for include: Spy Kids, Ocean’s Eleven, Gravity, The Monuments Men, Leatherheads, Out of Sight, Michael Clayton, The Descendants, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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