Though he made his acting debut on television in 1978, Clooney gained fame and recognition by portraying Dr. Douglas "Doug" Ross on the long-running medical drama ER from 1994 to 1999. While working on ER, he started attracting a variety of leading roles in films including Batman & Robin (1997) and Out of Sight (1998), where he first teamed with long-term collaborator Steven Soderbergh. In 2001, Clooney's fame widened with the release of his biggest commercial success, Ocean's Eleven, the first of a profitable film trilogy, that is a remake of the movie from 1960 with the members of The Rat Pack with Frank Sinatra as Danny Ocean. He made his directorial debut a year later with the 2002 biographical thriller Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and has since directed Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) and Leatherheads (2008). He won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the Middle East thriller Syriana (2005).
Clooney's humanitarian work includes his advocacy of finding a resolution for the Darfur conflict, raising funds for the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2004 Tsunami and victims, and creating documentaries such as Sand and Sorrow to raise awareness about international crises.
Clooney was born in Georgetown, Kentucky. His mother, Nina Bruce (née Warren, 1939-), is a former beauty pageant queen; his father, Nick Clooney, is a former anchorman, as well as a game show and American Movie Classics host. Clooney is of part Irish descent on his father's side; his paternal great-great-grandparents, Nicholas Clooney (of County Kilkenny) and Bridget Byron, immigrated to the United States from Ireland. Clooney was raised a strict Roman Catholic. He has an older sister, Adelia (also known as Ada); his cousins include actors Miguel and Rafael Ferrer, who are the sons of his aunt, singer Rosemary Clooney, and actor José Ferrer. He is also related to another singer, Debby Boone, who married José Ferrer and Rosemary Clooney's son Gabriel. From an early age, Clooney would hang around his father's sets, often participating in shows, where he proved to be a crowd favorite.
Clooney began his education at the Blessed Sacrament School in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. Spending part of his childhood in Ohio, he attended St. Michael's School in Columbus, and St. Susanna School in Mason, Ohio. In middle school, Clooney developed Bell's palsy, a debilitating condition that partially paralyzes the face. The malady went away within a year. "That was the worst time of my life," he told the Daily Mirror in 2003. "You know how cruel kids can be. I was mocked and taunted, but the experience made me stronger."
His parents eventually moved to Augusta, Kentucky, where Clooney attended Augusta High School. He has stated that he earned all As and a B in school,and was an enthusiastic baseball and basketball player. He tried out to play professional baseball with the Cincinnati Reds in 1977, but was not offered a contract. He did not pass the first round of player cuts. He attended Northern Kentucky University from 1979 to 1981, majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and very briefly attended the University of Cincinnati, but did not graduate from either.He had such odd jobs as selling men's suits and cutting tobacco.