Why George Clooney Was Once Called a ‘Pilot Killer’
Clooney himself estimates that he’s been involved in 16 or 17 pilots, eight of them never making it to the small screen. He jokingly admits that he was bad luck when it came to TV pilots.
Still, according to Vocal, he nabbed a few recurring parts before landing his breakout role as Dr. Doug Ross on NBC’s medical drama, ER, in 1994. After ER, no one ever called him a pilot killer again.
The Clooney mystique
George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, but was raised in the river town of Augusta, about 36 miles from Cincinnati and his beloved baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. His father is former American Movie Classics host and acclaimed journalist, Nick Clooney. His aunt was singer Rosemary Clooney, who was married to actor Jose Ferrer.
The Clooney mystique set its eye on George early on. From the time he could follow his activist dad around the newsroom, he set his sights on social activism and acting, despite his father’s pleading to reconsider.
His father’s pleading didn’t work. Uncle Jose and cousin Miguel Ferrer hired George as an extra when they came to Lexington to film a movie. The movie never made it to the screen, but it didn’t matter, he was hooked.
Clooney quit college at Northern Kentucky University after roughly a year and worked to earn enough money for his move to California in 1982. It wasn’t long before he found himself crashing on his aunt Rosemary’s couch as he began to hone his acting chops in Hollywood.
He even lived in a friend’s closet for a time, according to his bio on IMDb.
From ‘E/R’ to ‘ER’ and beyond
Clooney’s early career wasn’t much to write home about. In 1984, he earned his first recurring role as Ace in the sitcom E/R, a role that he loved. According to Clooney, it was quickly canceled since it was moved around five times in its premiere season.
It wasn’t long before he had bit parts on shows like Hunter and the Golden Girls and recurring roles on The Facts of Life and Roseanne. Clooney quips that he was the “best unknown actor in Hollywood” and he liked it that way. Relative anonymity didn’t last long before he was cast as detective James Falconer on the hit TV series Sisters in 1993.
After marrying one of the sisters, Teddy, in the show, he was quickly killed off. His demise opened him up to star in a new ER as part of an ensemble cast. It was the role that catapulted him into the stratosphere of stardom and, as they say, the rest is history.
George Clooney makes his mark
To say that Doug Ross was Clooney’s breakout role would be an understatement. He received two Primetime Emmy award nominations during his six years on the show and made People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive covers in 1997 and 2009.
During his time on ER, now A-lister Clooney found time to make six high-profile films, including Batman and Robin in 1997 and The Thin Red Line in 1998.
But it wasn’t until he left ER in 1999 (he later returned for ER‘s final episode in 2009) that he went on to become an award-winning producer, director and writer for films like Syriana (2005) and Good Night, and Good Luck (2005).
The former Hollywood’s Most Eligible Bachelor married lawyer and activist Amal Alamuddin in 2014 and became the father of fraternal twins in June 2017.