On this day in 1985, a little-known actor named George Clooney makes his first appearance as a handyman on the popular TV sitcom The Facts of Life. Clooney appeared in 17 episodes of the show, which aired from 1979 to 1988 and chronicled the lives of a group of young women who meet at a fictional boarding school. Years later, he moved on to Hollywood superstardom in the hit TV medical drama ER and such films as The Perfect Storm, Ocean’s Eleven and Michael Clayton.
Clooney, who was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, is the son of the journalist and TV host Nick Clooney and the nephew of the well-known singer Rosemary Clooney. His early acting credits, in addition to The Facts of Life, included small roles on the popular sitcom Roseanne and the drama Sisters. Clooney also appeared in single episodes of such shows as The Golden Girls and Murder, She Wrote. Clooney first shot to fame as Dr. Doug Ross on the medical drama ER, which debuted in 1994.
While appearing on ER, Clooney headlined such movies as Batman & Robin (1997), in which he played the caped crusader himself; Out of Sight (1998), which co-starred Jennifer Lopez and marked the first time Clooney worked with the director Steven Soderbergh, his future frequent collaborator; and Three Kings (1999). After leaving the long-running medical drama, he went on to starring roles in The Perfect Storm (2000), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and its two sequels, Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). Clooney made his directorial debut with 2002’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, about the game show host Chuck Barris, who claimed in his memoir that he also worked for the C.I.A.
Clooney won an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role in Syriana (2005), a complex thriller about the oil industry. He also received Best Director and Best Screenplay Oscar nominations for Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), about the 1950s journalist Edward R. Murrow and his conflict with the anti-Communist U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy. Clooney earned his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the title role of 2007’s legal thriller Michael Clayton.
Off-screen, the actor, who was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man of the Year” in 1997 and 2006, is known both for his confirmed bachelor status and his advocacy of various political and social causes, including the environment and the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.