Most people know him for his suave good looks and blockbusting Hollywood career, but he had his struggles to get where he is today and now uses his fame for good.
George Clooney: outspoken political activist and tireless humanitarian worker
George Clooney is an American actor, director, producer, screenwriter, and businessman. He has received three Golden Globe Awards for his work as an actor and two Academy Awards, one for acting in Syriana and the other for co-producing Argo, and countless other awards and plaudits during his Hollywood career. He has also been voted People Magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ in 1997 and 2006. But what really inspires and drives Clooney more than anything is political activism and humanitarian work.
George Clooney, the early years
George Timothy Clooney was born May 6, 1961 in Lexington, Kentucky, and was perhaps destined for the spotlight. His Mom, Nina Bruce, was a beauty queen and city councilwoman, and his father Nick Clooney is a former anchorman and television host. Cabaret singer and actress Rosemary Clooney was his aunt and his cousins include the actors Miguel, Rafael and Gabriel Ferrer.
So Clooney was exposed to the entertainment industry at a young age and made his first TV appearance aged 5, playing sketch characters on local talk shows hosted by his Dad.
However, when he was in middle school the man now famous for his good looks suddenly developed Bell’s palsy, a condition that partially paralysed his face. Thankfully the malady went away within a year and in an interview with Larry King, he described one positive outcome of the condition, “It’s probably a great thing that it happened to me because it forced me to engage in a series of making fun of myself. And I think that’s an important part of being famous. The practical jokes have to be aimed at you.”.
Now known for his roles in the ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ films and his Oscar-winning performance in ‘Syriana,’ the Oscar-nominated director and screenwriter of ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’ and Oscar-winning producer of ‘Argo‘ once made money selling women’s shoes, insurance door-to-door, stocking shelves, working construction, and cutting tobacco before he got his big break.
Clooney the campaigner
Clooney is an outspoken liberal and supporter of gay rights and was an early opponent of the Iraq War. Following the September 11 attacks he organised a fundraiser that featured dozens of Hollywood stars and raised almost $130 million for the United Way. Four years later, he donated $1 million of his own cash to the United Way Hurricane Katrina Response Fund.
Clooney famously founded Not On Our Watch with his Ocean’s 11 co-stars Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, and Brad Pitt, and producer Jerry Weintraub. The organisation’s main aim is to halt the genocide and human rights atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan.
He has been known to give generous donations to homeless people and is a supporter of Bono’s poverty-fighting ONE Campaign, and George donated $25,000 to writers during the 2007 writers strike.
In 2008 he was named United Nations Messenger of Peace, to help raise public awareness, and support for the UN’s peacekeeping efforts around the world. Then in 2009, he was included in Time’s annual Time 100 as one of the "Most Influential People in the World".
His other humanitarian activities include raising funds for the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Armenian Genocide recognition, 2004 tsunami, 9/11 victims, and creating documentaries such as Sand and Sorrow to raise awareness about international crises.
Clooney’s career has been a balancing act between maintaining his privacy and his Hollywood status. He is married to British-Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin who last June gave birth to twins.
Following the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February this year, Clooney and Amal, announced they were donating $500,000 to the March for Our Lives protest planned for the following month.
George remembers advice given by his aunt Rosemary, who experienced an astounding level of fame early in her career: “Don’t smoke three packs a day. Do a little exercising along the way. And don’t believe everybody when they tell you how great you are when you’re 21. And don’t believe everybody when they tell you how lousy you are when you’re 27."
Charities & foundations supported By George Clooney
George Clooney has supported the following charities listed on the Look To The Stars website (click on any entry for more details of that cause). Look To The Stars is the website dedicated to the world of celebrity giving.