Dante DiPaolo was born on February 18, 1926. "His family came from Consano, a tiny town in the Abruzzi region of central Italy in the Apennines. His father had emigrated to Colorado, where he worked in a coal mine for six dollars a day, living with his wife and children and assorted family members in a little house in the mining camp. There were so many in their little house, Dante shared a bed with four of his uncles. Like Rosemary, Dante was especially fond of his grandmother. She hung her wash outside, even in the snow and she baked bread in the brick oven outside. Dante said, "When I die, if I see a line of clean washing blowing on a clothesline in the snow and smell bread baking, I'll know I'm in the right place."
Dante began tap dancing as a toddler. His mother found a dance class in a town twelve miles away and "sewed him a pair of black velvet bell-bottoms with white pearl buttons, because she thought that was the way dancers had to dress, even for practice. His white satin blouse had puffed sleeves, so when he did the buck and wing, he seemed to be very high-flying." By the age of nine he'd won so many amateur contests that his mother took him to Hollywood on a Greyhound bus. They stayed with a friend who was a typesetter for the Los Angeles Times. The friend "introduced them to his circle, including a man who took Dante to strip joints downtown; with his sailor suit on, Dante would dance and use his hat to pick up the money people tossed." He met Bing Crosby when he was thirteen and had a dancing part in Crosby's film The Starmaker. "By that time, he already had a scrapbook of clippings." They called him "The Whirlwind of Colorado."
Dante's father eventually quit the coal mines and joined his family in California. He worked at Warner's and then at Paramount where he became the foreman for the set-moving department. Dante was always very close with his parents, and is still very devoted to his mother.
Dante was first noticed by Rosemary Clooney when they were playing on opposite teams in a Paramount softball game. He was an outfielder, she was captain of her team. He was dark-haired, long-legged and the dancer who was assigned to give her lessons on her next picture Here Come the Girls. In his role as teacher to Rosemary, Dante found a straw hat and a blazer, and they began practice sessions in a rehearsal studio. Their rehearsal pianist was Ian Bernard. The three of them, along with Bea Allen would go out together. Sometimes they'd go to Lucy's across the street from the Paramount lot. It was a restaurant that had curtained booths where, gradually Dante and Rosemary fell in love. It was during this time that Dante decided to call Rosemary "Rosella," and she called him her "Whirlwind." Their relationship was very lighthearted and fun.
While Rosemary was set to work on her next picture Red Garters, Dante was on location in Sun Valley, Idaho, shoting Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, where he played Matt, the leader of the town boys. While Dante was on location, Rosemary's relationship with Jose Ferrer grew. Though she loved both Dante and Jose, for reasons best explained in Rosemary's autobiography Girl Singer, she married Jose. When Dante learned that Rosemary had married Jose, he was shattered.
Dante spent a number of years dancing as part of various shows at the big hotels on the Vegas Strip. He married a Tropicana showgirl and they moved to Europe. While living in Rome, he landed a part in a movie. Over the next four years, he made twelve pictures, one of them completely in Italian. After seven years of marriage, Dante and his wife divorced. He returned to Los Angeles to live with his parents and continue his film career, which included playing Charlie in Sweet Charity. During his career he could boast of having worked with some of the world's finest artists and entertainers, including Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Ann Miller, Shirley Maclaine and John Barrymore just to name a few.
He and Rosemary reconnected in 1973. Their relationship was as fun and lighthearted as it had been twenty years earlier. After a few months, he moved in with her on Roxbury Drive and became her "spiffy new road manager." Ocassionally he'd get into the act and sing and dance a little. He was constantly with her, helping her, loving her, being supportive of her, and always able to make her laugh.
On November 7, 1997, Dante and Rosemary were married at St. Patrick's Church in Maysville, Kentucky.
During their 28 years together they traveled all over the world. They watched her children marry and their family grow to include ten grandchildren.
They spent a good deal of "retreat" time at their home on the river in Augusta, Kentucky near Rosemary's brother Nick and his wife Nina. Dante cooked Rosemary his famous spaghetti in hotels all across America. He stayed by her bedside when she had encephalitis and again when she was diagnosed with lung cancer...hardly ever leaving her side. He was, as Rosemary described him, just what she always needed.
He continued with the traditional annual trip that he, Rosemary, Nick and Nina took each year in honor of Betty Clooney. This spring, Dante with his "brother and sister" Nick and Nina, traveled with their son to Northern Italy.
Dante is fortunate in that he has fans who adore him from his many screen appearances and he also continues to be the object of much adoration and love from Rosemary fans the world over.