Across southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and other parts of the Cincinnati media market, actor George Clooney’s father was a celebrity long before his now-famous son. In the 1960s and ’70s, Nick Clooney hosted variety shows out of Cincinnati — in the days when the city was a hotbed of local programming that was syndicated live to Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis and other locales — before becoming a top-rated local news anchor and a fine journalist.
Consequently, local residents watched George grow up and take a special pride in his success. George has always shared his father’s ability to project a sense of warmth and sincerity through the screen, along with a fair dose of “aw, shucks” Midwestern humility. The famous Clooney family — which also includes George’s aunt, the late singer Rosemary Clooney — felt like neighbors even to area residents who never personally met them.
So it’s been puzzling to watch George’s immersion into liberal politics over the years. Most people here have always written that off as the usual thing that happens when people go to Hollywood. But it could be that George grew up with left-of-center philosophies; his dad eventually ran as a Democrat for Congress in northern Kentucky about a decade ago (and was soundly defeated). Either way, George Clooney’s liberal activism jarringly contrasts with the region that produced him.